A battle for the heart and soul of the country and for how we want it to be is currently being waged in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, and it has brought discussion about American labor to the forefront of national debate for the first time in a long time. Under the guise of balancing the budget, the rights of public employees in those states are under attack. While union-busting and ending collective bargaining rights is the true motive for all of this, proponents of these actions have been using other excuses as justification. They have claimed that public employees are overpaid freeloaders and paid more than private employees (and thus taxpayers shouldn't have to be providing so much money for them), as well as blaming them for the financial difficulties of states. At the same time, these opponents of organized labor continue to support deficit increasing upper income tax cuts.
In reality, public sector employees are generally paid less than their private sector counterparts (although they have better benefits because they have more and stronger unions). Pensions are not the main cause of the economic recession like some are claiming. While some public pension funds are in financial trouble and contribute to the budget problems of some states, many, including those in Wisconsin, are still very healthy. The financial troubles of states are a result the financial meltdown which resulted from the greed of Wall Street. And public employees comprise many of the taxpayers these labor opponents claim to be listening to. Unions are also the only big money contributors to the Democratic Party and keep the party competitive in elections, since corporations and other wealthy organizations heavily back the Republican Party. These attacks on public employees affect my family personally, since my mother is a retired public employee, and thus part of a community that is essentially being blamed for the mess that Wall Street caused. Standing up for the public sector is essential for preventing the rolling back of decades of progress and preventing the end of American labor and its influence on politics as we know it.