August 26, 2014
By Senator Lena C. Taylor
This Monday is the national celebration of Labor Day, a day on which we pay tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers and the immeasurable contributions their labor has brought to our country. Labor Day presents a time to show appreciation of the strides accomplished by organized laborers and the American labor movement, such as reasonable hours, safer working conditions, and retirement benefits. As we take part in the festivities that surround this holiday, we must too reflect on the current state of labor in Wisconsin and how far we still have to come to show Wisconsin laborers how much we appreciate their contributions.
In 2011, Governor Walker implemented Wisconsin Act 10, also known as “The Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill.” Through this bill, Walker deprived Wisconsin workers of their right to collectively bargain and to have a say in their wages; thereby damaging the compensation, retirement, health insurance and sick leave that were previously available to public sector employees. This bill, which was the driving force behind the 2011 protests in Madison, struck a huge blow to worker’s rights in Wisconsin. As a result, too many Wisconsin families are working harder than ever, yet falling farther behind, because finding family-supporting jobs in our communities is getting tougher. Hardworking Wisconsinites are the economic engine for successful local businesses and vibrant communities, and ensuring they are paid fair wages benefits everyone.
This Monday, we will be able to celebrate many achievements of organized labor in Wisconsin. Workers throughout history have been able to offer more productive labor to their employers and better lives for their families thanks to their right to collectively bargain. While I could not be more proud of the achievements Wisconsinites have brought to our state over the past three years, it pains me to imagine the social and economic benefits we are missing out on because of our Governor’s efforts in 2011. Act 10 destroyed collective bargaining rights of so many hard working Wisconsinites.
In spite of the backwards steps that Wisconsin has taken under the direction of Scott Walker, we will not give up fighting for the rights of workers. I encourage all of you to continue expressing your objections to this type of legislation throughout the year, and to join me on Monday in paying homage to Wisconsin public sector employees. Our state would not be able to function without the hard work and dedication that they bring to their jobs every day. Efforts by our state workers and government officials allow us to continuously make progress as a state. I am confident that together, we can not only reverse recent backwards legislation but will also be able to pass laws, such as increases in the minimum wage and bring back the right to collectively bargain, that compensate workers for the benefits they bring to Wisconsin.
So, while celebrating Labor Day this year, please take time to thank the public sector workers and the contributions they make to our state, and to celebrate the achievement of organized labor everywhere.