Published 01 Mar, 2011
In Gov. Scott Walker’s mean-spirited and controversial attempt to bust public workers unions in Wisconsin, he would also put state and local transit systems at risk—destroying thousands of jobs and stranding riders.
Walker is pushing legislation that would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, which would result in the state losing nearly $47 million in federal transportation money. The harsh ramifications for transit from Walker’s plan expose the ideological and political motivation for this draconian restriction on workers’ rights, which hurt the economy and leave riders high and dry.
Under federal law, states can lose funding if they remove collective bargaining rights that were in place when the federal money was initially granted. So, if unionized transit workers in Wisconsin were no longer able to collectively bargain, an essential source of funding would be cut off. Other states, like Ohio, Indiana and Florida, which are considering similar restrictions on bargaining rights, could be putting their transit systems in jeopardy as well.
Democrats in the Wisconsin State Assembly have proposed an amendment preserving collective bargaining specifically for transit workers, but Walker and his Republican allies in the legislature don’t appear interested in compromising.
This threat to public transportation comes at a time when transit systems are already strapped for cash and cutting service and jobs. Anti-worker politicians like Walker are showing their true colors and disregard for creating jobs and improving the lives of people in their state. With continued high unemployment, the nation needs to generate and preserve jobs, not attack the middle-class and cater to the demands of corporations trying to weaken the voice of workers.