It’s a funny thing, this struggle for worker’s rights in Wisconsin.
Labor isn’t something I consciously think about. It is perhaps because I have gotten my income through consulting and self-employment more than through general employment. However, even though I am not currently a member of a union, the struggle for worker’s rights has struck me more deeply than I could have ever imagined. I am energized, I am excited, I am engaged, I am encouraged.
#WIunion isn’t just about unions, though.
#WIunion is about people.
It’s about teachers and electricians and boilermakers and firefighters, yes.
But it’s also the husbands and wives and children of these people. These people who are people first, and not their professions. These people who have families that rely on the consistent wages and healthcare and vacation time that collective bargaining provides in their professions.
It’s also people who are elderly and live on a fixed income, needed assistance to purchase medication. It’s about folks with mental and emotional disorders who rely on state aid to provide mental health professionals and medication to allow them to live productive, meaningful lives.
It’s about people like me, who earn less than $8000 a year and couldn’t have health insurance without BadgerCare. People like me who are slated to earn less this year than last year. People who have drive and ambition and intelligence, and are just trying to get out in the world and put their talents to good use.
I spend full days at the courthouse, live-tweeting public hearings, because I am directly affected by #WIunion in ways that aren’t talked about. Until now, I haven’t really talked about why I am so committed and dedicated to this fight. It’s not because I have state health insurance (which I nearly lost, and may still lose). It’s not because I’m a member of a union (I’m not because I afford the dues). It’s not because I have dozens of friends and loved ones who are already re-arranging their lives and their futures because of pay cuts, loss of benefits and coverages, lack of vacation time to spend with their families, and furlough days that cut into lives in unexpected and complicated ways.
It’s because this is about people. And I care deeply about people.
And even though I am affected in a fairly minor, I am compelled to be part of this in my own small way. Sharing the words and statements directly from the courtroom is my way of contributing to the fight for #WIunion rights. It’s a small contribution, not a lot of power or force behind it. It’s not dramatic, like the man on a hunger strike (he’s on day 26).
But I feel like it’s something. I appreciate hearing from each of you who send messages of gratitude and support. I am grateful for your re-tweets and sharing information on Facebook and beyond. I am hopeful that the things you read from the courtroom and those I share from others inspire conversation and collaboration.
That is what I get from participating in #WIunion. How about you?
PS: I have been asked by folks how they can contribute to my work live-tweeting the court hearings (including helping cover lunch and other costs. I have created a PayPal account that will accept PayPal and credit card donations. This is not a request for donations, simply creating an opportunity for folks to contribute, if you feel so called. If so, know that your donation is appreciated beyond words.