Thursday, March 3, 2011

They've Got Our Back

The battle over public sector unions has been going on for a while, and the bills going through the Ohio and Wisconsin legislatures are the latest, albeit the most aggressive (so far) attacks.  Part of what gives me hope amidst this war on the working class is people like Amy Hanauer and the incredible work she and her colleagues do at Policy Matters Ohio.  While some of us stand on protest lines and write letters to our representatives, the folks at Policy Matters are doing research, gathering the data that makes for compelling arguments and – if only legislators would listen – effective solutions to economic and social problems.   

Without getting involved in electoral politics, and indeed, in part because they don’t work on politics directly, Policy Matters is clearly watching out for the interests of Ohio’s workers and those with less access to power, whose voices are often drowned out by well-funded corporate interests.  Here are a few examples of their work:
·         * Testifying against Ohio SB 5, offering data about the educational levels and income of public sector workers compared with those in the private sector
·         * Keeping an eye on charter schools
·         * Drawing attention to the strategies employers use to avoid paying workers – also known as wage theft
·         * Tracking foreclosure rates in Ohio
And that’s just part of what they’ve done in the past month. 

People like Amy Hanauer and her staff can’t replace labor unions in representing the working class, but I feel a little less embattled, a little less vulnerable knowing that I can count on them to ask tough questions, gather the evidence, and make persuasive arguments about policies that affect the majority of Ohioans. 

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