Milwaukee County Executive candidate Chris Abele has sent Gov. Scott Walker an open letter sharing his concerns about Walker’s attempt to weaken public employee unions as a part of the budget “repair” bill proposed by Walker.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Governor Walker:
Over the years, you and I have been able to work together on a range of issues and collaborate to move Milwaukee County forward. That’s why I’m writing to share my concern about the budget repair bill, and the deep divisions it is causing across Wisconsin.
Wisconsinites understand that all levels of government need to make tough choices to meet our very serious fiscal challenges. Working men and women know that wage and benefit concessions may be necessary as part of the broader solution to budget problems.
But the proposals in the budget repair bill go beyond tough choices and concessions. This legislation will end some 50 years of collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers and put at risk basic labor protections like the right to organize, and essential safeguards against unfair treatment and unsafe working conditions.
In addition, the legislative process surrounding this bill has been divisive rather than inclusive. Workers and their representative organizations have not been included in conversations or dialogue, and people don’t understand why they have been completely shut out of the discussion. This absence of any negotiations about a far-reaching, controversial bill is the cause of the passionate outpouring of opposition.
While the State of Wisconsin no doubt faces significant fiscal challenges, I believe we go further when we go together, and we can accomplish more when we sit down at the same table. Working men and women can play a productive role in finding solutions to the problems that face us all — if they are allowed to be part of the conversation. But eliminating basic labor rights and protections instead of sitting down at the negotiating table to reach common ground and shared goals stands against Wisconsin values that transcend political party or philosophy.
You have an opportunity to bring people together to make the tough choices needed to get Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order. The best resolution is one that includes the participation of all parties, and doesn’t leave one side embittered or excluded. I encourage you to change this bill and maintain the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.
Candidate for Milwaukee County Executive