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The way forward for Wisconsin

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Phil Neuenfeldt
September 3, 2011

Labor Day is a time to recognize and celebrate the hard-working men and women who make our country great.


While we honor working men and women everywhere, we pay tribute to the union movement. The labor movement not only brought us the weekend, child labor protections and safe work environments, but unions provide a necessary check on unbridled corporate greed and CEO power.


A check on corporate power is greatly needed as the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation consolidates our country’s wealth. Income inequality in America is growing at an alarming rate for all of us, but even more so for African-American and Hispanic households.


It’s clear that our politicians are putting corporate profits above people. Wisconsin recently passed a budget that not only calls for devastating cuts to education and health care but raises taxes on the working poor while giving millions in tax giveaways to corporations.


This is not the way forward.


To move forward, we need to invest in us, Wisconsinites, as workers with education, training and infrastructure. We need to restore not only shared sacrifice but also shared prosperity. Let’s close the unpatriotic tax loopholes for corporations and the super-rich so everyone is paying their fair share to fix the deficit.


To recover from economic distress, our state needs not only more jobs but good jobs with living wages, workplace rights and the meaningful freedom to organize into labor unions.


We need to continue to take to the streets. Forty-eight years ago last week, a quarter of a million people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.


This year, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites took to the streets for the very same issues they did then—family-supporting jobs, economic justice, a dignified work environment, the right to collectively bargain with your employer and a fair economy that works for all citizens.


When we saw voter suppression laws, undemocratic redistricting maps, attacks on unions and an unpatriotic budget, the people of Wisconsin came together in an unprecedented show of solidarity to say “enough.”


We took to the streets, to the courts and to the ballot boxes to protect our middle class way of life. While we may not have won every battle, we sent a strong message to Madison and to Washington, proving that attacks on democracy will not go unanswered.


Today we celebrate all that we have accomplished and look ahead to the fight for fairness and economic equality.


This Labor Day, we continue the movement that has been reenergized and reawakened and commit to fight for the rights of all workers, locally and globally.


This fight is for you.


Phil Neuenfeldt is president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, 6333 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee; phone (414) 771-0700, email pneuenfeldt@wisaflcio.org.

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