Labor unions experienced a victory on Tuesday with the overturn of anti-union laws in Ohio. Among the sea of peaceful picketers were firefighters, policemen and teachers working to preserve their voice in their line of work. “Occupy” members and law enforcement united their efforts regarding Issue 2, a change of pace to the recent Occupy Wall Street events that have had each group on opposite sides of the picket line.
According to the Huffington Post, “Ohio voters rejected Issue 2, a ballot referendum on Senate Bill 5, a measure that restricts collective bargaining rights for more than 360,000 public employees, among other provisions. Opposition to the legislation inspired large protests from residents around the state this year.”
Collective bargaining is a compromise between employers and their workers to come to an agreed upon set of standards in the work place. Such standards include that of working conditions, hours, wages and benefits. Rather than being a hierarchal system of management, it is a negotiation and compromise.
The “other provisions” that would have been restricted under Issue 2 include workplace conditions. Under Issue 2, teachers would have been subjected to rigorous evaluations and face termination if any of their classes did sub-par on standardized testing, regardless of the teachers’ past experiences.
Issue 2 would also put restrictions on safety personnel, such as lowering the amount of firefighters on duty and cutting back on protective gear provided to police officers and service workers. This would threaten the safety and well-being of any community.
Police, firefighters and teachers, as well as others who work to serve the community, cannot be undercompensated for the rigorous work they do. Police officers and firefighters shape the safety of our community while teachers shape our nation’s future. Even considering the idea of reducing medical care while increasing union fees shows a lack of respect and appreciation for the services they provide at already low wages.
Unions are important to preserve because they protect the rights of the workers. They allow employees to have a say in work place conduct while offering a sense of security and fair share in earned stipends. This becomes even more important as economic security declines because workers do not suffer pay or benefit cuts – regardless of if productivity increases. Workers are important to growing business entities. By not preserving their rights, we threaten the idea of a stabilized economy by reducing business.
According to the American Progress Action Fund, “If American workers were rewarded for 100 percent of their increases in labor productivity between 1980 and 2008 — as they were during the middle part of the 20th century – average wages would be $28.53 per hour — 42.7 percent higher than the average real wage in 2008.”
This represents what these individuals have bought into and are working for in a system that is being undercut. The ability for people to unionize is important to protecting individual and national welfare, as well as economic stability. Unionizing is a form of assembly and limiting the rights and abilities of unions, especially to the proposed degree in Ohio, puts restrictions on our Constitutional rights.