A Comment on Madison / by Simmon Li

The issue at play in Madison, WI is collective bargaining rights. Here in Toronto, we're about ready to declare the TTC an essential service. Basically, removing the right to strike, but retaining collective bargaining rights. It's funny that such a move is not endorsed by the TTC, because it will lead to arbitration. It's as if we can't even sit down and be realistic about what things cost anymore (on both sides of the table). We need some sort of neutral third part to hand us pie, like we're kids that can't figure out how to share some ice cream. It's endemic of a larger issue in all of politics that I want to touch on. First though, I'm on the fence regarding organized labour. I think organized labour has done important things for the middle-class, and it certainly has been instrumental during the gilded age in making sure that works are treated fairly. On the flip side, I think it's such a shame that, on some level, unions have gotten comfortable and lost sight of what they ought to be doing (at least, if the waste stories are to be believed). The cynical view of Madison is very easy to take, as only some union's collective bargaining rights are at stake. Also, the fact that the governor is unwilling to compromise on the money issue at all is telling of what his endgame is about. Seems to me that it is a blatant move to undermine organized labour's power. The overwhelming attitude that I am concerned about though, is the dichotomy of the two sides. "Labour vs Corporations" "Private vs Public", why do we define the terms of the debate in such a hostile way? With such a deterministic way of thinking, it's no wonder that we can't get our marbles together and solve the problems that confront us. I do concede that we need to be more fiscally responsible about the way we run government, how we do retirement, health care, and all of that. But at the same time, it just seems counter-productive to clear-cut these programs and its funding without any consideration of what it is that we're actually doing. The dichotomy between the two sides is increasingly driving away the possibility of moderate, workable solutions. In Madison, the Governor says he simply wants to talk, but I'm inclined to believe that talk is not what he's after.