The protesters are opposed to a legislation that will deny them labor rights by stripping them of their collective bargaining rights through workers union.
The worker’s rights in Wisconsin are protected by the Federal legislation of 1936 that caters for County and Municipal workers while the nonfederal workers in Wisconsin are protected by the 1959 similar legislation. This legislation has been useful in championing for the rights of workers and bargaining for better payments for the nonfederal employees.
The introduction of an anti-union proposal, which curtails the collective bargaining for state, county, and local workers with exception of the police, firefighters and state patrol, has led to mass protests. The bill introduced a week earlier by Governor Scott Walker, passed through the Legislative budget committee amid opposition from the Democrats committee members and now the bill is destined for voting in the Assembly and the Senate.
The labor history of Wisconsin is set to undergo major changes as Walker and the GOP has majority numbers in both the Assembly and the Senate. The Democrats, due to their inferior numbers have been powerless to stop the bill with Sen. Bob Jauch D-Poplar raising an alarm over the impact the bill will have on democratic process.
The proposed bill limits the workers union’s collective bargaining rights and makes workers to contribute to the pension scheme and health insurance cover. President Barrack Obama feels that eliminating the worker’s union bargaining role is not a good move but acknowledges that budget cuts are necessary.
The bill will lead to a rise in employee’s contributions to the pension scheme and healthcare insurance cover. The unions still represent workers but their role is limited and cannot seek pay increment above the Consumer Price Index terms. The legislation prevents the unions from deducting the employees any monthly contributions and has a provision that the unions should conduct elections annually in a bid to improve their performance.
The bill has majority support, as most of the senators are Republicans both in the Senate and in the Assembly. The bill sailed easily through the Legislative committee, as majority of the members are Republicans.
Walker supports the legislation as the best effort to solve the current economic crisis to help in the running of state operations including prisons.
The legislation protects the workers against any layoffs and retrenchments by organizations but does not allow the unions to negotiate on behalf of the workers concerning their plight. In an attempt to solicit for the worker’s union support for the bill, Walker indicated that he would advocate for massive loss of employment of state workers.
The Legislative committee Wednesday recommended a number of changes to the proposed bill. It has for a provision on how public workers should extend their grievances. The legislation offers for the establishment of a body with an oversight role to oversee the privatization of public power plants.
However, the proposed legislation faces public opposition characterized by many protests against it. Many protesters opposed to the bill filled the Wisconsin state Capitol prior to its passage into law. Huge crowds of protesters, mostly teachers and school-going children, assembled outside the Senate Chamber on to demonstrate against the passage of the bill.
Schools remained closed as students and teachers joined the protesters. The protesters also included university students who kept a nightlong vigil ahead of the bill’s passage day.