That (Service Employees International Union – United Healtcare Workers West, Local 250) was my daddy’s union before he retired. And the reason why I bristled when I saw this counter-protest sign. The misspelling of thuggery elicited an eye roll. Anyway, the sign was from a protest in Olympia, Washington, one of many places around the country that drew thousands in support of Wisconsin union workers.
I was listening to my local news talk radio station while waiting in the drive-thru line. My Saturday night ritual includes an In-N-Out Double-Double Burger and French Fries. The topic was the anti-Union protests. A caller went off on firefighters who get to go to a firehouse and watch TV, retiring early, and get 100% salary pensions. A couple callers ahead said, “It was just 10 years ago on 9/11, firefighters were the heroes. Now they’re entitled parasites?” I thought, “Exactly.”
Going to a firehouse to watch TV? When that alarm goes off, they put their lives on the line. They may be called to help with other states’ fires. Nevada firefighters went to fight the Southern California wildfires a few years ago. I remember hearing of firefighters on 24-hour shifts and sleeping on sidewalks. Some died. They deserve those benefits and more.
In Wisconsin, the firefighters are spared in the bill, but many are out there with the protesters. They realize that being spared wasn’t fair and that there is nothing guaranteeing their collective bargaining rights would not be on the chopping block later.
From New York to LA, people are showing their solidarity. I loved the messages on the signs:
- United We Bargain, Divided We Beg
- We are All Wisconsin
- The Time to Stand Up for the American Worker Now
- Save the American Dream
- This is What Solidarity Looks Like
I don’t know what will happen in Wisconsin. This uprising hasn’t been an exercise in futility, though. Indiana GOP state lawmakers dropped the Right to Work bill. As Walker digs his heels in, so are the union workers. It’s a showdown. From the article: Bradley Whitford, who starred in television’s “The West Wing,” told his hometown crowd, “This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice!”
Good. Every ounce of stubbornness will be needed in this fight.