The unions have a strong history with the LGBT communities. They were one of our first allies that understood the connection between LGBT rights and worker's rights. If LGBTs were discriminated against in the work place, anyone could be discriminated against. Unions got that right away.
Not only do they stand with us symbolically, unions back up their support with money and people power when it is necessary. In Washington state, the unions provided both financial assistance and volunteer resources when we were fighting to protect our domestic partnership rights. Nationally, the unions stand with us for our push for an inclusive ENDA.
Unions are a significant resource for progressive candidates. This is why they are under attack right now in Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, and states throughout the country. Simply, Republicans are trying to de-fund the progressive movement by denying Wisconsin's workers the right to bargain collectively. If they can bust the unions in Wisconsin, they are going to go after them everywhere they can.
The Task Force said in a statement, "It is inexcusable that some politicians are using the people as pawns in their quest for power and control. The assault on working people is a disgrace, and we are heartened that so many are standing firm and saying 'no' to this abuse of power. We join them in solidarity."
Conservatives understand the significance of Wisconsin for unions. The first union in that state was formed in 1847 by Milwaulkee's bricklayers. In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to pass a collective bargaining law for their public employees. That's why the Koch Brothers invested $43,000 to get Governor Walker elected. If they can bust unions in Wisconsin, they could win everywhere, and achieve their ultimate goal of ousting President Obama.
From Mother Jones:
Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment--even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved--the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.
The far right wing philosophy of the Koch Brothers is extremely dangerous to our community. Their brand of politics will set us back decades and must be stopped at all costs. We must stand strong with our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and throughout the country.
"Of course we need to stand with organized labor -- loudly and proudly," Tobias Barrington Wolff, Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania said, "They are our allies, a bulwark of the Democratic Party, and a force for economic justice."
Ryan Biava is an out Phd Student in Political Science. He wrote to me from day 5 of the protests from the TA union Headquarters in the Capitol.
The Governor's attempt to all but outlaw public-sector unions was perhaps not as well thought-out as it could have been for a state that gave birth to the Progressive Movement and modern public unionism. The new Republican majority in Wisconsin may have gotten carried away in the moment and forgotten a political truth: these sorts of deeply ingrained political cultural elements tend to be remarkably persistent over generations, so even if Wisconsinites are uncertain about the general role of unions in today's economy, they are still likely to be uncomfortable with a full-scale assault on the rights of workers to bargain collectively--something that I think helps explain the swift and severe response by supporters of organized labor.
Ryan is correct, but we should not underestimate the stamina of the right wing. If anything, the LGBT community has seen an unending assault on our rights. If they can target us, they can target the unions and will continue to. Our only choice is to band together.
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats said:
National Stonewall Democrats stands strong with our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin today. The right of employees to organize and unionize has been the largest driver of pay equity, fair labor practices and increased worker protections, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. Any law that would infringe upon that right is ill-advised and flies in the face of our fundamental right to freedom of assembly and association.
The time to tell the truth to your friends is now. When unions are under assault, the people will suffer. We must all stand in solidarity against those who wish to take away our right to organize democratically. Our freedom depends on it.
(Photo via Intern Jake)