Protests today against the “right to work” laws being passed in Wisconsin, have made me realize how oblivious and privileged I am.
From what I understand, legislation pushing through the “right to work” act makes it so private companies can’t require their workers to be a part of a union. It seems reasonable, but with less workers being a part of a union there are less people paying dues. Unions will still be responsible for the non-union workers who haven’t done anything to reciprocate the benefits. It’s taking power away from the unions, effectively taking power away from the workers.
I did not know any of this before this morning, when I found out about the rally, and still didn’t completely understand it as I walked up State Street to see what was going on.
Before the speakers started I wound my way through a crowd dominated by big guys in hard hats and neon yellow reflection vests feeling very out of place. I’m an unemployed, female, college student. Why am I here, why do I care?
A child of teachers, my values and beliefs have been guided by my pro-union, liberal parents. All my life I’ve received messages signaling that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. I’ve been taught that education is important for a healthy society and that everyone deserves equal rights. They’ve influenced me in what I obviously think is the right direction, and now I feel the responsibility to be an informed voter and citizen. I now see the bigger picture. The things happening in Wisconsin are not directly effecting me now, but they will, which is why it’s important to pay attention and listen to what the people are saying.
The speakers at the rally today had a slightly different tone from than the ones at rallies that I’ve been to in the past. They spoke of banding together and uniting against legislation that is more or less inevitable. During rallies to recall Walker in 2011, the atmosphere was bubbly and hopeful. Today it was more subdued. People are angry.
Seeing this grouping of workers who were making a stand against laws that will effect so many people was inspiring. I’m glad that I was there.
What bothered me is how unaware people are about it; including myself. When I stepped back on campus, everything was business as usual. I’m sure the majority of students had no idea what was going on blocks away from their own University. We’re all going to enter the workforce eventually and will be effected by the events that necessitated today’s rally.
I am so very fortunate to have the opportunity to be going to a world class university in a town where events like this one take place. So much happens in Madison on a day to day basis that is of little to no concern to most students. I think it’s sad, and from here on out will try to be one less oblivious, privileged twenty-something.