Letter to the Editor: We won’t get fooled again

April 12, 2016

There are a couple of topics I would like to cover this week. The first concerns the reactions I have received from my other letters. Most of my conversations fill me with hope that people will become more aware of their roles within the campus community which will lead to action and change both at UW-Whitewater as well as the UW System. There are a few, however, who seem to have struggled seeing the benefits to uniting and “raising the bar” for everyone.

It is an unfortunate reality that there will be people who need to have a group of “others” to ridicule and blame for their own perceived problems. The inevitable result is a drive to “lowering the bar” of the “others” so that we can all live within a shared misery.

But I denounce such short-sighted and harmful opinions, especially at UW-W.  And I denounce a perceived campus hierarchy based upon one’s job title.

Am I saying that every employee of UW-W should be paid the same? Of course not. I am saying that a custodian can impact the campus community as much, if not more, than any other position held on campus. I am saying that the voice of one employee, even a custodian, is as important as any other. Within this realization, we should embrace the empowerment of all employees and all campus community members.

Showing that we value someone goes beyond a “thank you” and a pat on the back. It is allowing that person to make their own decisions, to experiment, and to grow. It is empowering them to take command of their daily lives. Although not everyone wants to take on such decision-making duties, it is better to allow such a choice to be made by employees rather than telling them they are not competent to do so. In other words, it is better to be inclusive and treat all employees as valued members of a community rather than being exclusive and blaming the “others.”

My second topic is the recent Dane Circuit Court decision. Judge William Foust issued a 15-page ruling that Wisconsin’s right-to-work law is unconstitutional. The Wisconsin State Journal wrote, “A group of private-sector unions sued the state, arguing state and federal law require unions to provide collective bargaining services to all employees in a represented workplace, regardless of whether they pay union dues. That made the state’s right-to-work law an illegal “taking” of their services, they argued.” In other words, the unions are not being compensated for services rendered to people who don’t pay union dues – a predicament that the state of Wisconsin created.

If this ruling gets overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, then the private sector unions will struggle even more just like their public sector counterparts have since Act 10. It is no wonder that the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election became so politicized with one candidate being well funded.

Now, what do my two topics have in common? Our rights. Wisconsin politicians have been usurping our rights under the guise of individual freedom, and the citizens of this state have been allowing it to happen. Why? Because of the “others.”

Stand united. Raise that bar. And let’s not get fooled again.

Jeff Ehren

Custodian, UW-W