Hot Topic: Wisconsin

Good morning everyone (or I may just be talking to myself, but I want to get this out there anyway)…

By now everyone knows about the Hot Topic of the Wisconsin legislation to remove SOME collective bargaining from state employees. Personally, I am in agreement with some of the proposed (and passed) changes. At the moment state employees, who are in some cases required to join a Union, pay a smaller portion of their benefits then their employers (the state) pays. In a way, WI taxpayers are paying the heavy portion of the state employee’s “benefits.

I have no problem with state employees working with Unions over pay negotiations and over work conditions beyond the safety standards already set by OSHA regulations. But health insurance, and pensions are not a guaranteed right for an employee. They are what is called incentives. Benefits provided to help keep the job attractive to the worker.

Per the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23):

(1)Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Nowhere does it say that benefits, such as insurance/pensions are the right of an individual, and therefore should not be covered by unions. I am a believer in responsibility, and in this case, the state is providing benefits, but the workers have a responsibility to pay their share towards those benefits, and not expect the state/taxpayers (including themselves) to make up the slack.

This is something that I think most of the protesters are ignoring. They are just blurting out “you’re stealing our rights,” yet, the rights stated in the document above, are still in place. In addition, nothing is stopping the workers from working together, not necessarily as an organization, but as a group of concerned employees, to make requests and propose changes to these other options.

Here’s another look, from the dictionary, as to the definition of “collective bargaining”:

It means a collection of individuals, allowing for a greater voice for those workers.

“collective bargaining
— n
negotiation between one or more trade unions and one or more employers or an employers’ organization on the incomes and working conditions of the employees
– World English Dictionary”

“collective bargaining 
the process by which wages, hours, rules, and working conditions are negotiated and agreed upon by a union with an employer for all the employees collectively whom it represents.”

Again, nowhere in that definition does it state that workers can collectively bargain over insurance/pensions, it only covers wages, hours and working conditions.

This is my primary argument. It is felt that these are “rights being stripped from workers” yet, nowhere are these rights stated or determined, let alone backed up. I agree, that benefits can be provided, but in that case, the employee should pay equally what the employer pays, just like the rest of the world.

Now, last week, the WI reps pushed through a bill that was stripped of fiscal proposals, and pushed it through without a 24hour window. I don’t necessarily agree with the method, however, even if the WI senators decided to come back, they still would have lost to a majority vote.

With the current bill state employees will be getting the same limited Collective Bargaining rights of Federal employees, as well as the same rights as Private employees.  Is that not fair enough?


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