Unions across the country are standing with the workers of Wisconsin against the unprecedented attacks by Governor Scott Walker. Count the National Basketball Association’s Player’s Association among their ranks. The NBAPA has been threatened with layoffs, contraction and steep cuts in pay and benefits in their current collective bargaining negotiations with NBA commissioner David Stern and the assorted team owners. Considering that no one ever bought a ticket to look at Mark Cuban, a Maloof brother or (shudder) Donald Sterling, their’s is a struggle worthy of support.
Well, solidarity is a two-way street, and it is a very positive development to have NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter and Milwaukee Buck Keyon Dooling—also an NBAPA VP—speak out on behalf of Wisconsin’s workers. Thursday’s late-night vote in the state assembly to strip the public sector employees of their very rights to collectively bargain was, for Hunter and Dooling, a bridge too far.
“Last night’s vote by the Wisconsin Assembly was an attempt to undermine organized labor and the men and women across the country who depend on their unions for a voice in the workplace," said Hunter. "The NBPA proudly supports our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and their stand for unequivocal collective bargaining rights.”
Hunter, who earned his law degree from Berkeley while playing in the National Football League, has been part of the struggle for workers’ rights for many years. The voice of Keyon Dooling, a player in Wisconsin and a leader in the union, is perhaps even more welcome.
“Wisconsin public-sector workers tirelessly deliver services on a daily basis to millions of Wisconsin residents," said Dooling. "The right of these hard-working men and women to organize and bargain collectively is fundamental. Wisconsin’s workers deserve better than last night’s vote. Today, our union stands proudly with our fellow union members throughout the state as they continue their fight.”
Dooling, it’s worth noting, has now officially taken a stronger stand than his team’s owner, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Herb Kohl. It’s a stand, at this critical moment, worth taking and worth defending. The EMTs, teachers and child care workers of Wisconsin deserve nothing less.