The Chronicle in its editorial Feb. 22 ("Our first last-stand") has made the claim that the unions are bankrupting Wisconsin. Wrong! The unions have agreed to every demand for reducing salaries and benefits the governor requested, even though he gave millions in tax breaks to the wealthy.
What the governor and The Chronicle want is to take away the singular power that union workers have -- collective bargaining. Where are they getting their signals from? They are getting it from a rich right-wing organization Americans for Prosperity, which reports it has some $40 million, mainly from the billionaire Koch brothers, a notorious union-busting family that owns Georgia-Pacific, makers of paper products. This same organization, operating in multiple states, has targeted environmental regulations and the new health-care laws.
Let's get it straight: Unions, through collective bargaining, raise the level of lifestyle for its working families and, by competition, for nonunion families as well. Unions, such as those in Augusta, sponsor training and safety for workers in electrical, plumbing and carpentry so consumers get a job well done while making homes, and the workplace is safer.
Union collective bargaining prevents contractors from using cheap labor from other countries, thereby denying jobs for Augustans. At the root, is the right to use collective bargaining to offset the power of corporate greed, to bargain from strength and not from weakness, which individuals bargaining alone would face.
You can be sure that Gov. Walker's bravado is not his own, but shadows the voices of Charles and David Koch, who bankrolled him to the governorship. Instead of listening to the Koch brothers, The Chronicle should interview our union leaders in Augusta. They may be pleasantly surprised by what they hear.
(The writer is chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party.)