Emboldened by Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public unions, private Wisconsin employers are attempting to bust the unions in their labor contract negotiations.
In Manitowoc, the machinists union is on strike not over wages, but because of “union busting” language the Manitowoc Crane company wants included in the contract.
An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people attended Machinists local 516 strike rally on December 10 in Manitowoc, WI. The machinists are on strike after a new contract was overwhelmingly voted down (183-2) that included language to eliminate collective bargaining rights for the union.
Several union leaders and members of the community attended the rally to show support of the nearly 200 machinists on strike. Leaders of several unions attended, including American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees (AFSCME), Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), Ironworkers, United Steelworkers (USW), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Professional Firefighters (PFF), and the WIsconsin state president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Many are making a connection between the voted down contract to the Budget Repair Bill, Gov. Scott Walker introduced to eliminate collective bargaining for state employees. The budget repair bill was responsible for a month long protest at the Wisconsin state capitol building with 160,000 attending at the height of the protests.
Union members accuse Scott Walker of pitting public and private sector unions against each other. However, they have made it clear that they will work together to protect collective bargaining rights for all workers.