Competition from China and other low-wage rivals, coupled with fallout from the 2007-‘09 financial crisis, has put American wages under such unprecedented strain that they have shifted into reverse — not merely stagnating, but falling.
And Wisconsin workers have been hit especially hard:
Among the states most affected is Wisconsin.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-sector wages in Wisconsin fell 2.2% in the 12 months ended September 2012, ranking the state 44th out of 50. The rate was double the drop in the national average.
The CDC recommends that those who experience flu-like symptoms “should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.” However, for a huge number of American workers, that option doesn’t exist due to a lack of paid sick days. 40 percent of private sector workers and a whopping 80 percent of low-income workers do not have a single paid sick day. One in five workers reports losing their job or being threatened with dismissal for wanting to take time off while sick.
This problem is especially acute in the food industry, with its high potential for spreading disease. 79 percent of food workers say they have no paid sick time.
79% of food workers say they have no paid sick time. 79%!
Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers are on strike in Shorewood, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee) because VJS, the general contractor for a major development project, refuses to hire certified crane operators. Instead, VJS hired uncertified workers to operate the crane using a remote so they can “multi-task” and do other projects on the construction site.
I brought coffee to the union members this afternoon and they were incredibly grateful. It’s 30 degrees and miserable outside today, and it’s a rough time of year to be on strike. Milwaukee folks, if you have a chance to swing by and drop off coffee or just offer a word of encouragement, I’m sure the union members would be grateful.
If you’re not in Milwaukee but would like to offer support, perhaps consider calling in a pizza order? Ian’s Pizza (414-727-9200) will deliver to the picket line (4060 N. Oakland Avenue). Especially after the holiday weekend and as we enter a new year, it would be nice to show those on strike some support.
One of the enduring myths of legislation designed to bring ‘right-to-work’ laws to the states is the notion that these laws actually have something to do with the right to work.
They decidedly do not.
-Rick Ungar of Forbes Magazine, Right-to-Work Laws Explained, Debunked, and Demystified
The article above is a great primer in so-called right-to-work laws.
The protestors filled three floors of the rotunda inside the Capitol building. They also made their presence known in and around the Romney Building. They could be heard chanting “Hey he, ho ho, right-to-work has got to go” as they banged on railings inside the Capitol. Michigan State Police arrested at least three of the protestors and pepper sprayed a handful of others.
Photo from AFT Michigan
8 Great Reasons to Be Proud of Wisconsin this Labor Day
- 1847: The year before Wisconsin was even a state, bricklayers formed a labor union in Milwaukee.
- 1886: 7 Wisconsinites died fighting for the 8-hour workday.
- 1911: Wisconsin passed the first statewide workers compensation law in the country.
- 1932: Wisconsin passed the first unemployment compensation law in the country.
- 1934: University of Wisconsin Professor (and Wisconsin native!) Edwin Witte, often called the “father of the Social Security Act,” developed the original plan for Social Security.
- 1936: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was founded in Madison.
- 1959: Wisconsin passed the first Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act in the country. The law was strengthened in 1961 and 1963.
- 2011: Wisconsinites fought back against Scott Walker’s regressive labor law.
Remembering the Kohler Strike
On this day in 1934, two people were killed, 40 others were injured, and the National Guard occupied Kohler, Wisconsin. Kohler Company workers were on strike to demand better hours, higher wages, and recognition of the American Federation of Labor as their collective bargaining agent. The National Guard turned to tear gas, rifles, and shotguns to break up the strike, resulting in the deaths and injuries.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society:
Owner Walter Kohler blamed Communists and outside agitators for the violence, while union leaders blamed Kohler exclusively. Not settled until 1941, the strike marked the beginning of what was to become a prolonged struggle between the Kohler Company and organized labor in Wisconsin; a second Kohler strike lasted from 1954 to 1965.
Check out the original 1934 coverage in the Sheboygan Press here.
We’ve got tons of government workers in my district - tons. We gotta hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th - or whenever the (election) date is.
--Republican Senator Dan Kapanke, in a secretly recorded conversation, hoping that government workers in his district “are sleeping” during the recall election. It would seem hard to continue claiming you’re not pushing an agenda to discourage voting after making a statement like this.