Today I rode the bus downtown on my way to support state workers. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing almost every Monday morning for the past 3 years working as a contractor doing tech support for a Wisconsin state agency. This morning, however, I wasn’t getting paid for it and I was carrying a protest sign. I still haven’t been able to figure out a pithy way of stating my position on just a sign, though, so here's how I see this in the most basic terms.
As a contractor, I don’t get any state contributions to a pension or my health insurance and I’m not part of a union, but I just can’t follow the reasoning some have suggested that because I don’t have these things I should want them taken away from the people I work with and for (or anyone for that matter). I know it’s simply not true that state employees “haven’t had to sacrifice” because they had the same furlough day today that I did, which by the way is also proof that the unions are aware of the realities of the economy and willing to negotiate if Walker would let them. I know that state employees are, in fact, taxpayers just like other workers (which seems like it should be obvious to everyone). I know that my team-mates and the people for whom I provide tech support work just as hard as the private sector employees I’ve worked alongside in my previous jobs. I know that this is not about the money, but about workers’ rights. At the moment it’s the collective bargaining rights of these particular unions that are under attack, but if those fall I’m sure Governor Walker has plenty of ways to show how little he values my rights, too.
It’s not right, it’s not their “fair share” and it’s not something I can just watch happen without raising my voice.