No. 1 most disgusting silence on right-to-work-for-less bill: public-safety unions exempt from Act 10 | WisCommunity

No. 1 most disgusting silence on right-to-work-for-less bill: public-safety unions exempt from Act 10

This week the players' unions for Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League all issued statements opposing the Republican Party's blitzkrieg move to turn Wisconsin into a so-called "right to work" state that would gut private-sector union power.

The players' unions pointed out how this move would weaken worker protections, wages and a voice for employees in the workplaces. And they noted that a number of their members grew up in Wisconsin or went to college here or play in the state.

Their vocal opposition to "right to work" is commendable, and adds to the comments of other private- and public-sector unions here and outside the state in denouncing the Wisconsin GOP's naked political power grab.

But what about that "disgusting silence" we mentioned above? Well, I've heard not a peep from the police or firefighter unions representing public employees in this state -- the sole category of public unions that Scott Walker and legislative Republicans exempted from their 2011 law that basically killed collective bargaining for other public employees.

It's true that some police and firefighter unions in and outside Wisconsin issued messages of support for their beleaguered colleagues in the state's public workforce four years ago when mass protests were wracking this state. Some public safety union members and officiais even protested in person.

But that was then. Now, that narrow group of Republican-favored public safety unions are quickly being surrounded by victims of that same political party, and the silence of those public safety unions is deafening. They got theirs, apparently.

The thing is, they've only got it for now. As every day passes, those police and firefighter unions have decreasing reason to imagine they won't eventually be made to join the other public unions whose members have been demonized and neutered by Team Walker. 

Indeed, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters last week that Republicans have considered taking the same step against public safety unions later on. 

To paraphrase a powerful old statement:

First they came for the teachers and I said nothing. Then they came for the scientists, and I said nothing. And then they came for the clerks and accountants and lawyers and most everyone else who works for government in Wisconsin, and I said nothing. And finally they came for me and my co-workers, but then there was no one left to say anything in our defense.

[Here, for the sake of you who have never read it, is the original poem from German theologian Martin Niemöller, helpfully annotated by blogger PvtJarHead at DailyKos:]

When the Nazis came for the ,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the ,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the ,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

And by the way, before some reader gets all upset, you don't have to regard modern American Republicans as actual Nazis to see the parallels. This is about authoritarianism in general, and how or how not to combat its evils. Sitting on your hands is simply not going to work. It just encourages them and tells everyone around you it's cool to be apathetic or concerned but inactive.


February 25, 2015 - 11:06pm