Saturday, February 26, 2011

I have a serious question

If the right of collective bargaining for public employees is so critical to our principles of human dignity and the democratic process that it justifies an emergency email from the Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director asking us to sign a petition from Interfaith Worker Justice and to participate in a strategy call with labor leaders; if it's a basic human right enshrined not only in our principles, but in the United Nations Universal Human Rights Declaration and in the first amendment to the Constitution, then why are we holding our General Assembly in North Carolina, one of only five states in the nation to outlaw collective bargaining by public employees? Why did we hold the 2005 GA in Texas, one of the other five? If "Standing On The Side Of Love" means fighting for the right of public sector employees to use collective bargaining, then why are we rewarding states that outlaw it?

We're famous for our rigid stands on human rights. We boycotted Arizona just because they didn't make MLK's birthday a holiday. We spent last summer furiously blogging about Arizona again, holding special conference call meetings to vote on cancelling our GA there because of 1070. We're also famous for the way we vet venues- every last detail must be accessible, recyclable, fair traded, capped and traded, sustainable, renewable, local, and prevailing waged- how did we let a basic human right slip through the cracks?

Don't tell me that this is a new situation; it's not. In 2005, Indiana revoked collective bargaining for the public sector- indeed, Indiana was the inspiration for Wisconsin's actions, as we managed to turn red ink to black despite the horrible recession. (although Gov Walker seems not to notice that in Indiana we also had some tax increases) There was no outpouring of outrage by UU ministers and bloggers then- had anyone cared, we might have had emergency "Move the GA from anti-union Texas" meetings that year, and we certainly wouldn't have selected another anti-union state for this GA had there been an uproar. But there wasn't. So why do we suddenly care about public sector unions now when we never did before? What's changed between the selection of an anti-union state for our GA and now?

Could it be that we choose our issues by wetting our finger and holding it in the air? There is a lot more press and public uproar over Wisconsin than there was over Indiana; it's a lot more fun signing petitions that someone might actually read, and having conference calls with real activists instead of the same voices you heard at GA. Could it be that this time the DNC is involved? They were in no position to exploit the situation in Indiana in 2005, but they're having a field day in Milwaukee. I've noticed over the years that our actions and concerns track the DNC's pretty closely- remember our rather fluid positions on the filibuster? Could it be that we've taken so much flak for being elitist that we're suddenly desperate to prove solidarity with the middle class?

Don't like these theories? What's your explanation?


Chalicechick said...

I have outrage fatigue. I'm just glad it is back on the east coast and that lots of my friends are going.


Tracie the Red said...

I'd like to know which US state is considered perfect according to UU standards. Please advise. Ya got 50 to choose from, plus the territories of Puerto Rico & the Virgin Islands at least.