Saints Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church in America
2505 South 30th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53215
February 19, 2011
Dear Gov. Walker,
We are writing you to express our strong dissatisfaction with provisions of the current budget repair bill that would limit or eliminate the right of public workers to engage in collective bargaining. We oppose these provisions. We have strong objections to the fact that such provisions would be put forward for a vote by the State Senate with no adequate time for sustained and open public discussion.
Many Orthodox Christians who immigrated to this country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries worked in factories, mines, and other industries. They experienced dreadful working conditions and sustained opposition to their efforts to engage in collective bargaining to improve those working conditions. They struggled with great difficulty to gain the civil and legal rights of workers to unite and collectively bargain with employers. Those hard-won rights reflect a deeper moral right of people freely to associate with others to obtain and maintain a decent standard of living. As you well know, Wisconsin was the first state to grant public workers the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining with the state.
We appreciate the very difficult economic conditions that affect state and local governments in Wisconsin. We understand that very difficult decisions need to be made that will very likely affect the working conditions of public employees. But:
We categorically reject any efforts by you and other members of the state government to make these decisions without negotiating with public workers through the unions which represent them.
We categorically reject any efforts to rescind or limit Wisconsin’s long tradition of affording the right to collective bargaining to public workers in the state.
We categorically reject any effort to pass the current budget repair bill without the sort of sustained public discussion that should accompany a bill of this magnitude.
Accordingly, we respectfully request that you support efforts to remove all provisions of the current budget repair bill that would remove or diminish the rights of public workers to gather, organize, and collectively bargain with the State of Wisconsin and other governmental units in the state regarding their working conditions and benefits.
Fr. John D. Jones Fr. Thomas Mueller Fr. Protodeacon George Potym
Associate Priest Rector