The only Senate hearing on “corporate greed” and “wage theft” legislation is underway. Conservative Republican legislators (and Democratic legislators) continue to evoke the powerful conservative metaphor of “right to work.” To Senator Wirch’s (Democrat – Kenosha) credit, in early hearing questioning of Senator Fitzgerald (Republican – SB 44 Author), he asked Fitzgerald about it being “wage theft legislation.” Fitzgerald paused and did not respond. Literally refused.
There is always hope – to change the conversation and present a completely different vision for people to identify with and believe. It is something we MUST ACCOMPLISH if we are to avoid living out the Albert Einstein definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. The current defensive template playing out on Corporate Greed and Wage Theft Legislation (SB 44) is identical to Act 10. It’s not too late…here’s what progressives need to begin communicating to their State Senators and Representatives on both side of the aisle. Critical points are highlighted.
This is fundamentally about two critical truths, which must be effectively communicated to people. First, there is the basic truth about the relationship and roles of corporation and worker. Second is the basic truth about The Public.
1. A private corporation is a form of governance created and existing for one reason – the pursuit of profit. Beyond that, there is no moral mission that it serves. To that end, the corporation hires workers to create profit for the corporation. The workers of Wisconsin are the profit creators. Take away the workers, and you take away the ability of the corporation to generate a product of service from which they profit. It’s that simple – “Workers are profit creators.”
A union, therefore, is the democratically elected representation of those workers who have a MORAL right to receive a living wage portion of those profits – which they create. The union protects and empowers the profit creators as their voice, making certain that they receive that living wage portion of the profit which they have created. Without the union, the profit creators will be subject to corporate greed, never receiving their fair portion of the profits they have worked to create. This truth ought to be the basis for a general strike in Wisconsin!
Any legislation which takes away the right of the profit creators to receive a living wage portion of profit, opens the door to corporate greed and servitude, and contributes to Wage Theft.
2. The Public (government), unlike corporations, exists with a moral mission to protect and empower the people it serves. Legislation which does the polar opposite of that mission represents a betrayal of trust on the part of legislators who support such a measure. Why? As shown in point 1 above, such legislation opens the door to corporate greed and wage theft, and impedes the right of the profit creators to receive their fair portion of profit.
Most importantly, it is critical to communicate an honest vision of what is happening in Wisconsin. Extreme conservative ideologists are pushing on Wisconsinites a corporate form of governance. In direct contrast to Public governance, Corporate Greed and Wage Theft legislation represents one step closer to a corporate form of governance where the sole mission is profit.
The Public is all of us, acting together to protect and empower each other, expand freedom and opportunity for everyone, and calls on us to take responsibility for each other. Unions are consistent with that model, democratically elected and representative to protect and empower private sector profit creators. Every worker who creates profit for their employer is helped by a union. Conservatives would have you believe that The Public (which is all of us) is evil, immoral, and that it must be destroyed. This belief guides every one of their policies – including Corporate Greed and Wage Theft legislation.
Since when is it immoral for people to come together, take responsibility for each other, and help expand freedom and opportunity for all? If you value and want that for your family, why not everyone else? And why do you want to destroy the institutions (The Public and Unions) that empower and protect people from corporate greed and servitude?
These are the questions to ask of Republicans. This is the vision to change the conversation and the status quo.