The gubernatorial election is only one day away and it’s time Wisconsinites make the right decision, a decision that involves the representation of the state’s working class. A major segment of the working class is comprised of unions, and these organizations are important in ensuring an individual’s and family’s quality of life.

Unions have been an important force in this nation’s history, and their relevance continues to be demonstrated by our present day struggles. In regard to Wisconsin, the importance of unions has become essential to our state because they help fight for workers’ individual and group rights, while offering benefits and prosperity for the middle class, allowing them to earn family-supporting wages. This is why we need to elect Mary Burke for governor Nov. 4. She will fight for unions and for middle class workers across Wisconsin.

As many of you know, in 2011, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed Act 10 and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law. Act 10 essentially ended collective bargaining, the negotiation of wages and other benefits between a group of employees and an employer. The passage of Act 10 has given public employees, such as social workers, prison guards and nurses, an excuse to not pay dues to a union because Act 10 greatly diminished the power unions held.

If elected governor, Burke stated that she would “work to restore collective bargaining,” which is exactly what Wisconsin needs to succeed into the future. Without unions, we wouldn’t have a strong middle class — unions are the backbone for a thriving work force. Not only do unions bring men and women together in the workplace, they also negotiate contracts with employers so that the working conditions are standardized, the wages are livable wages, retirement funds are set aside and policies that deal with paid sick leave are negotiated.

Through my dad, who works for the Laborer’s Union, I have personally seen the kind of impact unions can have on a family. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to go to the doctor when I was sick, and my parents wouldn’t have an expensive doctor bill from my visit because my dad is a part of the union. Unions provide better health care benefits to their members and for a family that is just starting off, or for a recent college graduate, having good health care benefits is valuable and beneficial. Along with health care benefits, unions negotiate contracts so workers make a livable wage. Making a livable wage is what boosts the economy in Wisconsin and nationally, while also allowing people to move up the ladder to the middle class.

The middle class is what makes up most of America. Without a strong middle class, supported by unions, this country would be devastated and it would not be thriving as much as it is today. But with the cuts Walker made to collective bargaining, as well as cuts in other states across the nation, unions are in trouble. If we don’t take the proper steps to ensure that unions succeed in the future to help workers and the middle class, unions will be gone. We can’t afford that to happen, which is exactly why we need to vote for a governor who cares about unions and who cares about workers’ rights. This is why we need to vote for Burke to be our next governor Nov. 4, so we can continue having unions exist, so we can keep building the middle class and watch Wisconsin succeed. If we want to see unions flourish into the future, it is time to vote Burke for governor Nov. 4!

Autumn Linsmeier ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science.