What the heck is going on in Wisconsin? Last I heard the Gov., facing a tremendous budget deficit, had proposed to crack-open the strangle-hold the union has on state workers, and the unions and their supporters are (apparently) going off the deep end.
I have not been following it at all, but what I learned so far is it seems the Gov. wants to empower state employees to ‘opt out’ of the state employee unions as well as making “reasonable” contributions to their pensions and medical plans…
From Yesterday’s New York Times:
Behind closed doors, Scott Walker, the Republican who has been governor for about six weeks, calmly described his intent to forge ahead with the plans that had set off the uprising: He wants to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.
He also wants to weaken most public-sector unions by sharply curtailing their collective bargaining rights, limiting talks to the subject of basic wages.
Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget.
Under Walker’s plan, state employees’ share of pension and health care costs would go up by an average of 8 percent. The changes would save the state $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.
Unions could still represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.
Pegging increases to the Consumer Price Index – how is that a bad idea? State worker salaries need to rise faster than inflation?
An end to forcing state workers to join unions/pay union dues? I kinda thought these folks were “pro-choice” – can’t workers have a choice?
Forcing unions to justify themselves to their members each year? That would force the unions to be more responsive to the needs of the workers, I’d imagine (by holding union leader’s feet to the fire)…
For the past few days the schools in Wisconsin have been closed due to teacher’s calling out sick – a clever trick that allows teacher’s union members to collect their daily pay while they go and protest to protect their union rights, all at the expense of the taxpayers and the children they are supposed to be teaching. It’s pretty obvious where their concerns are, in my humble opinion…
Note: For all you Huffington Post supporters, here is what they are saying in their only front page story on Wisconsin events today:
What has attracted the most attention is Walker’s threat to call out the National Guard in order to respond to a walk-out or any resistance to his plan.
Now that is quite alarming, but luckily the “reporter” included a link to back up her claim (link included in the quotation above, but I’ll quote what the linked-to article said):
In the case of a walkout, Walker has put the National Guard on alert. Last week, he told reporters that the guard is “prepared” for “whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for,” such as staffing prisons if guards go on strike.
Got that, if prison guards go on strike, he’ll call out the National Guard to man the prisons – I’d like the first reporter to support her claim about calling out the National Guard for “…any resistance to his plan.” (her link does not support that statement) What would you have the Governor do if prison guards fail to report for duty? Let the inmates run the asylum?
Update: It seems that the students are/were being dragged to the state capital to support the teacher’s compensation, benefits and arbitration rights:
New York Times: Public Workers in Wisconsin Protest Plan to Cut Benefits
MSNBC.com: Thousands Protest Wis. anti-union bill