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article imageOp-Ed: What Poland's old communists and Gov. Scott Walker have in common

By Daniel R. Cobb     Mar 4, 2011 in Politics
Do unions not have a place in a democratic society? The old Soviet Regime did not tolerate independent trade unions that could challenge the edicts of the government. Will unions one day be banished from the U.S.?
You may recall that the Soviet Union outlawed all free trade unions; the communist governments in the Soviet regime could not possibly tolerate a citizen-based power block that could challenge the edicts of the communist regime.
This was the status quo for roughly seventy years, and we Americans routinely railed against communist suppression of worker's rights. Then came Poland’s Lech Walesa: an electrician at Poland’s Gdansk Shipyards, a trade union organizer and a human rights activist. Walesa co-founded Solidarity, the first independent trade union within the Soviet bloc.
For his efforts to organize labor, he was persecuted, spied on, fired repeatedly, arrested, beaten and imprisoned by Poland’s communist government.
However, Lech Walesa eventually won the Noble Peace Prize for his work, even while laboring at the shipyards, and was later instrumental in Poland’s transition from communism to democracy.
Poland became the first country ever to break free of the Soviet grasp, and Lech Walesa eventually became Poland's first democratically elected President, in 1990.
For me, it’s incredibly disturbing that the Republican Governor of Wisconsin apparently has the same contempt for collective bargaining rights as did Poland’s old communist regime. Do unions need to make or consider serious concessions when times are tough? Certainly. Should union-busting be an American tradition? Not in my image of America.
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Labor unions, wisconsin labor, Governor Scott Walker, Lech walesa, Solidarity Union
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