Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Friday 15 June 2012

Not Only in Wisconsin....

Sadly,' this is not only in Wisconsin' as a colleague pointed out when I re-posted this on facebook.

I recall last year when Scott Walker was governor and tried to destroy unions, strip bargaining rights and eventually was recalled after a major march of public workers to the legislature.  Sounds oddly familiar doesn't it?

It seems a trend lately that governments do not wish to fund puclic sectors and prioritize tax money to other areas, claiming 'net zero' for anything else they do not deem important. It is an obvious move to privatize public sectors to make more money and to have more control over the monies.
I still do not understand how the rich can get richer and the rest of us suffer. Change needs to happen. We have allowed little by little the erosion of our rights, and now government threatens to take them all away in one massive scoop.

Here in B.C. we are in a "cooling off period" which has allowed the government to introduce more bills and laws while forcing us to sit back and "just cool off"
This summer, bargaining will re-open and while we are in mediation currently with the (not so qualified or experienced) Mr. Jago, one wonders what September will look like for our students?

So no, not only in Wisconsin can these things happen... and that worries me. I love my job, I am passionate about education, but the looming unpredictability of public education scares me and I believe in speaking out and taking action to ensure our students are protected and don't lose out in the future because of major losses today.

We do not need to become partners in backwards reform movements, we need to be principled critics to attacks on union rights and public services. Rather than stating, for example, that yes, perhaps union members should pay some of their health insurance benefits but not too much, we should be arguing that these benefits are part of an overall compensation package that was negotiated and to claw back is equivalent to a pay cut. We need to point out that pensions are simply deferred salary that has been earned, and to claw back pension benefits is to steal that deferred income. We need to remind the public that seniority rights are to protect against discrimination, nepotism and favoritism.

We also need a principled public defense of public services in the public interest. "Reform" has become a euphemism for privatization and it is important to call a spade a spade. Every so-called reform of public services being pushed right now really aims to reduce public spending, curtain service delivery and quality, and to increase the private delivery and control of public services. Think charter schools, for example.

The lesson from Wisconsin is that we need to reform our organizations to ensure that we speak out for what is truly in the public interest, not simply try to lesson the damage. The slogans should not be "These cuts are too deep" but rather "Tax the rich".
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