Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Woes: This "Bill" is driving us crazy!

Wisconsin has been my home for more than 20 years. My plan was to go back home -Puerto Rico - after five years. But then, I got married. So here I am. I love Wisconsin, and as an adoptive daughter of this State, it saddens me what is going on in here today. But I have an opinion about it. Maybe not the most popular right now, but here I go.

Those who know me know that I tend to lean more to the "left" side of politics while trying to stay in the "middle-of-the-road": I am pro-choice and pro-women's rights. I am all for gay marriage and rights of same sex couples and so-called "non-traditional" families. I think RAPE is rape, no matter that some individuals would like to redefine it. I think the war sucks, but I still admire and respect profoundly our men and women in uniform; I know this is sort of cliche-y but I will say it because I feel it: because of our soldier's sacrifices, I enjoy the freedoms I do. I think government should stay out of what I eat, but also should stay out of how I control the number of offspring I will give birth to. And I do believe in the right to bear arms.

That is just who I am. I believe I have the right to speak my first language - Spanish - without anyone yelling at me to "speak English!" But I also believe that anyone who comes here with big dreams should learn English if they want to make it, just like I did. I believe that only American citizens should be allowed to enjoy Federal assistance, but I also know this country is made up of inmigrants, and all inmigrants should be given a fair chance to become citizens if they so desire, not treated like criminals or an infected animal.

And, I do believe in the work and goals of unions in America, in the right to protest, to collectively bargain for better benefits. Yes, I do. And, opposite to what many believe, this demonized bill is not what everyone is making it to be. As a matter of fact, I wonder if everyone who is protesting it has even read it. For highlights, you can follow this link:


Now, let's make this clear: I sympathize with those who truly are hard workers and will have to take a hit to their finances. With that said, I will tell you this: Working for the private sector, I know that many of the benefits State workers enjoy have been much better than mine until recent times.

I also know that many teachers do work hard and go above and beyond what is required of them, even when the Union tries to dictate the amount of hours they can work. Then, again, you have those who only work the bare minimum, and even dare to resent the ones who give more because it makes them look bad.

But this is the deal: yesterday, the Madison school district had to close because of all the teachers calling in sick. Translation: taking time off to go to Madison and protest. Their right? Sure! But I am glad I was not the parent that had to call her employer to say, "I will not be in today or I will be late because my kids don't have school and I have to make alternate arrangements for them." The teachers from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, went and protested loud and hard AFTER school. Good for them! They should protest if that is what they want. But many teachers are against the "Bill" because "it is in the best interest of the children". Really? In the best interest of the children to go protest instead of being in the classroom teaching them? Yes, I've heard it all: they can miss school on a snow day, so this will not hurt them. Reality check: A snow day is not something anyone can control, and on a snow day, I still would rather have my kid learning something. I also heard that, by watching their teachers take a stand in what they believe, they learn good lessons. NOT! Again, other teachers did not call in "sick" to go protest. Yeah, that is great work ethic. Pfft. Some teachers took students to the protest as a "field trip". Whaaaat?!?

My tax dollars already pay for WAY more things than I care about, and I don't have much of a say on it. One thing they pay: education for my children. And I want it to be EXCELLENT. The Unions, while a great thing, as everything in life, have a dark side: they negotiate, advocate and bargain for the not-so-excellent teachers (or workers in general) as well. What is the "Bill" trying to do? Per the link I posted, it "makes various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages." It is not taking the bargaining away, just redefining the rules, among other things.

I think enough is enough. This is not about throwing a tantrum because "it is not fair". It is about making things equal for all. Simple: if you are working hard, you earn. If you are not, you don't. Even with the modifications, the State workers - teachers included - will still have a benefits package that is better than most benefit packages in the private sector. And no one is taking away anyone's right to protest and bargain. And, why not? If possible, I too would like the lawmakers to take a bit more time to review this. But I will not be the one chanting "Kill the Bill".

Like my mother always says, let's not forget: your rights end where mine begin.

PS: Please let's have our facts together before spreading rumors. Although I did not vote for Governor Walker, he still is the Governor, and just was elected by some of the same people who wants him recalled now. What about giving him a chance? In my case, well, I am stuck with him for a couple more years, so may as well make the best of it. Many of the rumors circulating are not even true. He did not give away incentives to the rich or deployed the National Guard on protestors. No dictatorship here...although the revolution fever seems to be spreading here as well. That is a good thing. So let's hope that only the best comes out of it.

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