Last week I wrote about how much success the unions throughout Region 6 have had in community organizing and local elections in the last few years. We are doing a lot more of it and getting much better at it.
In making this point I wrote that there is sometimes no chance that we can change the course the Legislature and Scott Walker have set when they have their minds made up. The reprehensible way they went about passing their recent Work For Less bill is a case in point.
I emphasized in the piece that we also need to stay vigilant at the state level. The Legislature is not always hopeless, and even when it is people still need to hear from us.
Many colleagues and Region 6 members have questioned me about this last point. Why write and call our legislators, the governor’s office, and our local newspapers if the cause is hopeless? What good does it do for us to raise our voices and articulate our point of view if it will not change the outcome?
The answer is that it does a lot of good. At the March 7 Region 6 board of directors meeting, Assembly Representative Sondy Pope told us that all legislators track the feedback they receive from constituents, including the feedback they disagree with. If open records requests are made, they are legally required to report the number of messages and calls they received on all sides of an issue.
More importantly, our words make a difference in the long-term even if we do not prevail in the short-term. We help people develop informed opinions even when their legislators are doing the opposite. Most people in Wisconsin want to hear from the people who work in their schools because they understand that we know what students need. Our words carry weight.
Meanwhile, there is reason to hope that the current Legislature will substantially alter Walker’s budget before it is passed. His proposed budget cuts for public schools will mean disaster throughout our state, and many Republicans and Democrats see that as a problem. We need to let them know that we feel the same way.
The Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee are holding additional public hearings to give more people a chance to weigh in on and ask questions about the budget. They will be at the Platteville city hall on March 28 and the Dodgeville council chambers on March 31.
Attend a hearing if you can. Keep sending the letters and email messages. Keep making the phone calls. It makes a difference. WEAC’s website has many resources that make this very easy.
If you have questions, talk to your local officers and building representatives. And you can always contact Region 6. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. Tell us what you think. It will do a lot of good.