Except that the reporter was wrong. Scratch that. She was so off-base, her commentary doesn't even count as wrong. As reported in the Washington Post, the protesting teachers aren't happy about benefit cuts and having to pay more, but that's not why they're protesting:
Walker tries to sell the change in collective bargaining as modest. "State and local employees could continue to bargain for base pay, they would not be able to bargain over other compensation measures." But that's not really true. Read down a bit further and you'll find that "total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by referendum." In other words, they couldn't bargain for wages to rise faster than inflation. So, in reality, they can't bargain for wages and they can't bargain over other forms of compensation. They just can't bargain.I've said before I'm not a huge fan of unions. Like politics, concentrating that much power and money among a handful of officials invites abuse and corruption. But that's neither here nor there. Unions are necessary, a necessary evil if you will, to prevent far greater abuses. The fact that Governor Walker is being disingenuous with his true intentions is tremendously offensive. I despise hypocrisy above all else. The Wisconsin Legislative Financial Bureau actually predicts that the state will have a $56 million budget surplus this year, a significant difference from the $137 million deficit Walker is using as justification for his union-busting legislation. But even if Walker's worst-case scenario of a $137 million deficit accurate, it's one of his own making because of hastily-passed tax breaks in January totaling $140 million. To Wal Mart, among others. That hardly sounds like greedy teachers driving the state into bankruptcy, does it?
The proposal doesn't stop there, though. "Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues." These rules have nothing to do with pension costs or even bargaining. They're just about weakening unions: They make it harder for unions to collect dues from members, to negotiate stable contracts or to survive a bad year.
I'm the child of a long-time teacher. The salaries and benefits of teachers are hardly lavish even in the best of times. Almost every teacher I knew growing up worked summer or side jobs to make ends meet. I know of two, specifically, that quit teaching to sell insurance, because they couldn't afford to raise their family otherwise. So I have damn little sympathy for Rush Limbaugh or anyone else who starts attacking them for being arrogant, greedy or elite. And yes, I wrote to MarkeWatch, although I hold out little hope for a positive response:
I was very disappointed with the CBS Moneywatch report this morning on the situation in Wisconsin. The report cast the situation as Wisconsin facing a crushing budget deficit and greedy teachers refusing to make any salary and benefit concessions. The reality of the situation is far removed from that. The official state financial office has concluded that there *isn't* a budget crisis. Governor Walker *isn't* proposing emergency austerity measures, but actually engaging in ideologically-driven union busting by trying to strip away collective bargaining rights:Now Playing: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass The Lonely Bull
This political overreach is already generating a backlash against the governor from the general popluation:
I'm from Texas, a right-to-work state, and have no affinity for unions. But as a journalist, I strenuously object to the "dumbing down" of complex news stories. I certainly expect better from you.
Chicken Ranch Central