From this guest post at Feministe by April Lukes-Streich on the worker protests in Madison, Wisconsin:
frankly, with reports coming out every week about how corporate profits and productivity are up and private sector hiring remains stagnant, I’m sick and tired of hearing about how much more money public sector employees make compared to their private sector counterparts…and how union employees’ striking over better working conditions and health care [is] greedy and lazy. It’s time we flip the dialog, and instead of getting angry that public sector employees are actually being treated decently, let’s ask private sector employers why they refuse to show their employees the same respect.
We need collective bargaining because employers and employees have competing goals. And we need to remind politicians that while they may get more money from corporations, they get their votes from people.
We have to keep being loud, and present. Don’t forget that our various State capitol building are our houses. And the streets surrounding it are our streets. And our elected officials are our employees, because it’s our job to hire and fire them.
Categories: ethics & philosophy, social justice
As part of a wee bit of research I was doing back on Labour Day (which in WA was the 7th of March), I discovered a few interesting factoids about our country. For a start, we’re the first country to have ever had a Labor government at all (1899, Anderson (or Andrew) Dawson, Queensland, 1899) as well as the first country ever to have a majority Labor government a national level (not too long after we federated – 1910, in fact). It was under the leadership of Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, and it was under this government that we first got things like old age and disability pensions, maternity allowance and worker’s compensation.
So these things, which are now so much a part of the Australian polity they’re regarded almost as background noise (and largely regarded as political suicide to consider sacrificing) are only just a century old. All of these things were the product of the union movement, collective activism on the part of workers in a variety of industries, and political activism by workers (which was how the ALP began in the first place). At the time, it was regarded as something shocking, because prior to this, politics had been very much the preserve of the rich, and the role of the workers in political matters was to do as they were told.