Unions: Caught In The Crosshairs Of The Recession
More than 25,000 people flocked to the capital of Wisconsin on Thursday to protest the impending bill that would significantly lessen the power of unions.
The legislation would increase the amount teachers have to pay towards their benefits, from healthcare to retirement plans, by nearly double. While many seek to see the power of unions diminished, at what cost should those represented suffer?
Wisconsin has sparked a countrywide mission to dismantle the power source that unions hold. Many feel that unions have demanded excessive amounts of benefits for their members, and in many cases this is true.
However, when looking at which unions the state governments are looking to attack, the teachers, arguably the molders of the future of our country, are in the center of the crosshairs.
It is widely acknowledged that teachers are one of the most important jobs and yet they are largely underpaid for their responsibilities.
It is understandable to try to reduce the collective bargaining ability of unions, but when attached to increasing the deduction in wages for teachers, the issue is bound to find large amounts of resistance and heated criticism.
The education system as a whole is one of great contention that needs to be restructured. President Barack Obama spent a large amount of his State of the Union addressing this issue. Now however, education is being addressed not to be fixed, but to become a fix as a result of increasing state budget deficits.
In the case of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is supporting a bill that would save $30 million by June and $300 million over the next two years to try and close a budget deficit of $3.6 billion. While this is a decent portion of the deficit, is losing qualified teachers, and reducing their expendable income worthwhile?
It seems this has become a popular trend as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also expressed interest in cutting 6,000 teaching positions in the next fiscal year. Union workers should be concerned, as this has become a huge story that has captured a lot of attention. With 35 states expected to run budget shortfalls for 2012, it can be expected that unions will be at the front of the line to lose ground in bargaining for increased benefits.
Some believe it is about time as unions have hindered the capitalist nature of this country and have prevented the United States from being competitive on a international level. This is true to a degree because to shoot one movie or build a single building corporations have to work with numerous unions all vying for increased wages and better benefits. This has increased the cost of production but has also been a way for blue-collared workers to attain the ‘American Dream.’
The issue is not one isolated problem but a trend that roots back to the laziness of Americans in that we do the jobs that are desirable. It is why there is a large issue with illegal immigrants in America. They do the jobs Americans don’t. Unions are there to promote the jobs that many would not bother with if not for the collectively-bargained benefits and pay that make those jobs more enticing.
This brings to issue whether dismantling the status of the unions now will adversely affect the success the job sector in America?
The answer will come in time as we wait to see the outcomes of this legislation try to derail union influence in public sector jobs.