WASHINGTON – Chairman Emanuel Cleaver II, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and the Congressional Black Caucus sent the following letter to Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin in support of workers’ rights. The letter to Governor Walker is attached and text included below. Chairman Cleaver also released the following statement in support:
“Anytime the rights of public workers are being compromised it is our duty to stand with them. For 40 years, the Congressional Black Caucus has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, color or creed have the opportunity to fully pursue and achieve the American dream. Taking away public employees rights to collectively bargain seems like an assault on the pursuit of that dream.
The CBC is committed to responsibly reducing the deficit, but not with indiscriminate cuts that target hard-working American families. The sacrifices that we make as a nation must be distributed equally amongst the population – not on the backs of the public servants.”
– Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II
Letter to Governor Walker
The Honorable Scott Walker
Office of the Governor
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
Dear Governor Walker:
The Congressional Black Caucus stands in solidarity with Wisconsin’s public workers in opposition to your legislation that cuts their employee benefits and strips unions of their collective bargaining rights. Your proposal is blatantly un-American by severely limiting workers’ say on hiring, firing, assignments, and overall worker protections. This union-busting legislation should also not be considered as it jeopardizes the viability of the people during these tough economic times.
While we respect your efforts to protect the state budget, your proposed anti-union legislation is both misguided and shortsighted. Wisconsin was the first state to give public sector workers the right to organize and unions continue to play an indispensable role in ensuring the health, safety, and security of the American workers and children. Unions have been critical in the effort to end child labor, establish a fair work day, create financial security, provide unemployment insurance, and establish just wages. It is their inalienable right to defend and protect themselves through collective bargaining. Your legislative proposal will hurt workers in the state, lead to stalled economic growth, and higher unemployment rates.
Wisconsin’s working people share your dedication to balancing the budget and have demonstrated their commitment to fiscal responsibility by yielding to demands presented by your administration. Much of their acquiescence was even against their own self-interests and the needs of their families. This includes:
-Paying half the retirement system’s cost—5.8% of pay
-Paying 12.5% of health care cost, doubling and tripling their current contribution levels
Clearly, they have made sacrifices to realign state budgets. However, these sacrifices must be distributed equally amongst the population as a whole—not solely on the backs of the state’s public servants. Union workers are not aiming to drain Wisconsin’s coffers for their own benefit; however, they are merely asking for a voice in your administration concerning the needs of their families and communities.
Your constituents and Americans all across the country have made it clear that unionization is a cherished right worth protecting. Unions have not only empowered this nation, but helped create and maintain the American middle class.
Responsibility to protect this most basic right must outweigh any commitment to state budget constraints. We urge you to work with your public servants and give them what they rightfully deserve—a seat at the table.
– Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II