workers, never stop working, labor
workers, never stop working, labor

Wisconsin GOP Attacks Weekends, Living Wage, Decency

Wisconsin’s proposed state budget includes a provision that will allow businesses to deny their employers a single day off per workweek.

Current Wisconsin labor laws state that an employer “must provide employees with at least one period consisting of 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week.” The requirement does not apply to watchmen, rescue workers or cheesemakers (no, seriously).

But the new provision seeks to do away with the requirement, thereby introducing a seven-day workweek without a single day off. The Nation reports:

 If an employer would like a worker to work seven days in a row for a limited period of time, then the two can jointly petition the Department of Workforce Development for a waiver. According to the office of Republican Representative Mark Born, who is introducing this bill in the State Assembly, there were 169 waivers requested in 2013 and 232 in 2014, and all of them were granted. Under the current system, the waiver requests must state the necessity for the waiver, and they are granted only for a limited period of time.

Supporters of the seven-day workweek like to say that it is purely voluntary for employees, but anyone who has actually worked under another human being knows how volunteer becomes voluntold.

If an employee refuses to work seven days per week, an employer can give the worker a terrible schedule, cut the worker’s hours, deny the worker a promotion, single out the worker for particularly unpleasant tasks, or add the worker to the “let go in the next round of layoffs” list. Workers and bosses are not on equal footing; failure to comply with the boss’s orders will result in some form of punishment.

sisyphus wikimedia commons
Wisconsin in two years

But that’s not all! The new provision has another way to punch working-class Wisconsinites in the kidneys by removing the term “living wage” from the state’s legal statutes.

Currently, Wisconsin law states that “Every wage paid or agreed to be paid by any employer to any employee… shall be not less than a living wage.”

What is a living wage? According to the current legal statute,

“Living wage” means compensation for labor paid, whether by time, piecework, or otherwise, sufficient to enable the employee receiving the compensation to maintain himself or herself under conditions consistent with his or her welfare.

The term “welfare” shall mean and include reasonable comfort, reasonable physical well-being, decency, and moral well-being.

So this new budget proposal doesn’t just hurt workers; it strikes at the heart of human decency itself.

The budget also hurts universities, slashes social services, restricts the public’s access to information related to deaths caused by police officers, and many other horrible things.

Wisconsin senate Democrats tried to strike out the draconian provision, but they were outnumbered by Republicans who overwhelming voted for the seven-day workweek and against the moral well-being of their constituents. They did at least get rid of a provision that would forbid the public from accessing information about lawmaking.

Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the budget into law. It is incredibly unlikely that he will veto the budget, unless a hard-working single-mom shoots him with the Point-of-View Gun from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Walker has a long history of making life harder for working Wisconsinites. Back in March, he signed a bill that made Wisconsin a right-to-work state, thereby weakening labor unions and workers’ rights.

Scott Walker, anti-worker golem
Scott Walker, anti-worker golem

The man hates unions with a single-minded passion, even to the detriment of his political career. Though he is running for president on the GOP ticket (as is every literally other fair-skinned male who can utter racial abuse into a microphone), he seems to have no other message than “DESTROY ORGANIZED LABOR”. The Atlantic reports:

Walker’s ongoing battle with unions could risk becoming a defining issue for him, and not necessarily in a positive way. This was most clearly illustrated when the one-term governor, obviously not well-steeped in foreign policy, used the 2011 law as an awkward punchline to suggest his victory over Democrats and organized labor qualified him to take on ISIS as commander in chief. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters,” he said at CPAC, “I can do the same across the world.” The clumsy boasting demonstrated his weakness in foreign affairs, but it also came close to exposing him as a one-issue pony.

It’s as though the only thing the man can think about is making life worse for workers. Gov. Scott Walker has no other political opinions, no other interests, no other hopes and dreams beyond “CRUSH THE WORKING CLASS”. He’s a real-life Dickensian villain. He’s worker-smashing robot programmed by Mr. Burns. He’s a character cut from an Upton Sinclair novel for being too over-the-top. He’s a Dalek, only he always adds “WORKERS’ RIGHTS” after every “EXTERMINATE”.

He equates a group of terrorists with a group of peaceful demonstrators asking for better workman’s comp. To him, there is little difference between murdering people and asking for a day off from work.

What drove Gov. Walker to such an extreme hatred of the working class? Did an AFL-CIO member steal his girlfriend in college? Did he get shoved into a locker in high school by a guy who worked construction during the summer?

And how in the world do he and his weekend-killing cronies get elected? Surely even conservatives like having one day off to see their families, run some errands, relax, or go to church. Aren’t you supposed to keep the Sabbath holy? Even God took a day off—surely a cheesemaker can do it, too. Where are the angry religious groups when we need them? (Answer: trying to stop other people from enjoying sex.)

(featured image via Vase Petrovski)