“When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 18 Republican state senators rammed through a bill in the dead of night that strips public workers of their right to collective bargaining, they sent a clear message,” said union President Cliff Guffey. “I hope it serves as a wake-up call for APWU members and all working people.
“They are determined to destroy the right of nurses, teachers and librarians to have a voice at work,” the union president said, “and they have dealt a major blow to democracy. The action of the governor and state senators was an abuse of power and an affront to all working Americans,” he said.
Late on Wednesday, March 9, the governor and Republican state senators passed a bill that attacks middle-class families in Wisconsin by stripping public workers of their right to a voice at work, with a vote of 18-1; no Democratic senators were present.
The bill effectively destroys collective bargaining for state workers, Guffey said. “The bill’s passage jeopardizes the fundamental American values of freedom, fairness, and the right to negotiate for a better life.”
It also poses a threat to other public workers — including APWU members. As the union continues talks with the Postal Service in an attempt to reach agreement on a new contract, Guffey said other states will follow Wisconsin’s lead — “and our right to negotiate may not be far behind,” he warned.
“These anti-labor actions are not unique to one state or sector of the working class,” Guffey said.
While the Wisconsin Senate requires a quorum to vote on any issues that involve spending, Republican lawmakers extracted proposals from Walker’s bill that targeted workers’ right to bargain. A special conference committee — which included only one Democratic House member — approved the revised bill late Wednesday night with no advance notice.
“This is a slap in the face to the middle class, and a major attack on the rights we won over years of struggle,” Guffey said. “Wisconsin lawmakers abused their power, and have denied hard-working people their basic rights in the workplace.
“It is now apparent that legislators never intended to fix a phony budget crisis. They planned to destroy collective bargaining from day one,” the union president said.
Despite this setback, Guffey urges APWU members to continue to show solidarity with embattled workers in Wisconsin and other states where similar actions are being introduced.
“It is more important than ever that we show solidarity,” Guffey said. “We must protect unions — they are our best defense against the assault on working Americans.”