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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 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.
From: John Kuhn, Superintendent, Perrin-Whitt CISDNow Playing: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers The Last DJ
To: Senator Estes, Representative Hardcastle, Representative Keffer, and Representative King during these grave times:
I am besieged, by a hundred or more of the Legislators under Rick Perry. I have sustained a continual Bombardment of increased high-stakes testing and accountability-related bureaucracy and a cannonade of gross underfunding for 10 years at least and have lost several good men and women. The ruling party has demanded another round of pay cuts and furloughs, while the school house be put to the sword and our children's lunch money be taken in order to keep taxes low for big business. I am answering the demand with a (figurative) cannon shot, and the Texas flag still waves proudly from our flag pole. I shall never surrender the fight for the children of Perrin.
Then, I call on you my legislators in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy of public schools is declaring that spending on a shiny new high-stakes testing system is "non-negotiable"; that, in essence, we must save the test but not the teachers. The enemy of public schools is saying that Texas lawmakers won't raise 1 penny in taxes in order to save our schools.
If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and fight for the kids in these classrooms like an educator who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his community. Make education a priority!
With all due respect and urgency,
I wanted a good education, but I knew I would have to work like hell to get that, too. It wouldn’t be just a gift to me, you know. I knew I wanted it. I wanted to be a straight-A student. You know, if I had been, if I’d finished high school, I might’ve gotten a small scholarship or something. That’s what I really wanted to do. I never knew what I wanted to do with it after I got the education, though. I thought, well, you can make up your mind—-you’ll have more knowledge about what in the hell’s going on in the world, then you might know.