While recently discussing current events at North Shore Towers, Rhoda Plotkin, a former City University of New York political science teacher, focused on the situation with unions in Wisconsin.
“There’s so much to talk about,” began Plotkin, who has led current events discussions in the Country Club before.
Plotkin described Wisconsin as “the home of some very progressive politics,” including a 1935 act that allowed for collective bargaining between unions and employers.
“It became very much a part of our way of life in America,” she said.
She also said that collective bargaining and the unionization movement were partially responsible for creating the middle class. Plotkin noted that unions brought about things like minimum wage, time and a half, and equality for women in the work place.
“These are all important aspects of middle class life and of American values that a person should have a shot at a decent way of life,” Plotkin said.
Stating that Wisconsin was also “home to some of the most progressive people in American history,” Plotkin said that the question is “how could workers’ rights be on the line here of all places.”
Plotkin said that the unions of public service workers had agreed to collective bargaining, including putting in more for their pensions and healthcare, because “they realize that there are problems in the country.” However, she said, the governor had refused to talk to them and didn’t want any collective bargaining.
“Little by little the democratic values that we hold dear have been chipping away,” Plotkin said.
According to Plotkin, President Barak Obama has been “extraordinarily quiet” on this issue, which she described as crucial to American workers and the middle class. She added that there has never been a society that was democratic that didn’t have a large middle class.
“If the governor wins, if collective bargaining is outlawed…it’s over for the unions,” Plotkin said. “And if it’s over for the unions, then it may be moving towards a one party state.”
Plotkin also said that, “This is really all about 2012. The name of the game in politics is power.”
Also during the March lecture, Plotkin spoke about the country’s budget deficit, job creation, budget cuts, public financing and party contributors.
During the presentation, Plotkin encouraged residents to share their comments and opinions, noting that it would “enhance the discussion.”
Plotkin’s recent lecture was filmed and aired on the North Shore Towers in-house channel. She will return for another current events discussion on Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m. in the VIP Room.