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Posted at 12:16 PM ET, 02/18/2011

What is actually being proposed in Wisconsin?

By Ezra Klein

Reading the commentary, I think a lot of people are confused about what's actually being proposed in Wisconsin. So let's go through it.

You can find Gov. Scott Walker's proposal here. It's called "the Budget Repair bill." The section that's attracted all the anger is "State and Local Government and School District Labor Relations."

In it, Walker proposes that the right to collectively bargain be taken away from most -- but not all -- state and local workers. Who's left out? "Local law enforcement and fire employees, and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes." As Harold Meyerson notes, these are also the unions that happened to be more supportive of Walker in the last election. Funny, that.

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.

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.

The best way to understand Walker's proposal is as a multi-part attack on the state's labor unions. In part one, their ability to bargain benefits for their members is reduced. In part two, their ability to collect dues, and thus spend money organizing members or lobbying the legislature, is undercut. And in part three, workers have to vote the union back into existence every single year. Put it all together and it looks like this: Wisconsin's unions can't deliver value to their members, they're deprived of the resources to change the rules so they can start delivering value to their members again, and because of that, their members eventually give in to employer pressure and shut the union down in one of the annual certification elections.

You may think Walker's proposal is a good idea or a bad idea. But that's what it does. And it's telling that he's exempting the unions that supported him and is trying to obscure his plan's specifics behind misleading language about what unions can still bargain for and misleading rhetoric about the state's budget.

By Ezra Klein  | February 18, 2011; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Unions  
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Comments

declare the pensions bankrupt and liquidate them and pay off the debt the dems created...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 18, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a reasonable compromise to the budget situation, and a bill that balances the pay of one group against the public interest.

Posted by: johnL1 | February 18, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

ezra,

twice in this post you accuse Walker of doing what honestly Dems have been doing for years (paying off political contributions with favorable benefits). If that is the case then they shouldn't exempt anyone and Walker is wrong. Any proof to that regard? Maybe some statstics that shows the firefighters and police union donated more money to Walker than to his Democratic counterpart? An incriminating memo? Heck forget the memo I'll take overly slanted political contributions. Anything to prove your point would be appreciated because its absolutely wrong for politicians to try to curry financial backing from unions (or corporations) and then hand them favors back in return. You know kind of like what the Obama administration did with Pharma during the PPACA debate??

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 18, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Are Republicans doing everything possible to lose the Mid-West in two years?

So this is the plan: We're target unions and turn down federal money for blue-collar jobs, which will allow us to flip Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Boehner is on record supporting this measure, so it is now officially part of the national party's policy views.

Posted by: DavidCEisen | February 18, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway, you may think Walker's proposal is a good idea or a bad idea."

Right. Heaven forbid you actually take a side.

Posted by: stonedone | February 18, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse


This is not just a Wisconsin issue...PUBLIC workers unions have contibuted money and bloc votes to Democratic politicians in return for overly generous wage & benefit increases.

The costs of these wage & benefit increases and increased state & local hiring has caused the growth in COSTS to rise at a faster pace than taxes have grown. The future outlook is even worse!

How do we solve the problem ?? !) force taxpayers to pay higher taxes or 2) cut the "overly generous" wage & benefits to private employee levels ??


Posted by: PeterNYC | February 18, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The question needs to be asked. Are Legislators salaries and/or benefits being cut? Is Walker's? Why weren't correction officers included in the exemption? Don't forget the $100M+ in tax giveaways to business. If the state can't afford it's employees then it can't afford to give businesses tax cuts.

He's trying to bust the union.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 18, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"How do we solve the problem ?? !) force taxpayers to pay higher taxes or 2) cut the "overly generous" wage & benefits to private employee levels ??"

You don't need to get rid of collective bargaining to reduce "overly generous" wage and benefits, you just need to be better bargainers.

And if taxpayers want good teachers, they are going to have to pay for it.

Posted by: DavidCEisen | February 18, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the teachers and at least some of the other Wisconsin public workers have a pension plan where they have historically made NO contributions and these reforms call for them to start contributing to fund their own retirement plans. What a radical idea!

Posted by: prosecutor1 | February 18, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the teachers and at least some of the other Wisconsin public workers have a pension plan where they have historically made NO contributions and these reforms call for them to start contributing to fund their own retirement plans. What a radical idea!

Posted by: prosecutor1 | February 18, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The problem is this will be a loser for the democrats. The simple argument is - the public employees are expecting lifetime pensions without contributing to those pensions, on top of that they want gold health plans, and apprently don't want to pay for them either. And, democrats just want to maintain that status quo while private workers are taking the hit in the economy. Finally, the national unions and dem organizations are stepping in and trying to tell the state how to run its business. If the republicans stick to the simple argument, don't see how the dems are going to win this one.

Posted by: Marin823 | February 18, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@prosecutor1,

how would we know what their plans are like. they're a really well guarded secret from what I can tell. You know wouldn't want people to know the truth about these things.

As far as their benefits go I'd think they'd have to give up their cadillac plans by 2018 or they're getting excised taxed on them. Well, unless they get a special waiver.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 18, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The Governor of Wisconsin should be honored for taking this action. As a private sector employee I have not had a raise in 3 years. The local Public Sector Unions have gotten raises and COLA's which my taxes have paid for. My taxes have gone up to fund your raises, pensions and benefits. I can not afford to fund for you what I cannot fund for myself. It is time that Public Sector Unions were outlawed as taxpayers can no longer fund them.

Posted by: twoeagle | February 18, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

i was able to find a neat little search engine here though:

http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/dataondemand/33534649.html


Posted by: visionbrkr | February 18, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting how many people criticize the public workers for being smart enough to organize into a union. If private sector employees had any sense they would be doing the same (I am *private* sector by the way). Unions are an essential part of the checks and balances in a democratic free market economy. All these folks who think we should all roll over and give the Koch's and Murdocks of the world ALL of the power are the ones who are really racing to the bottom. Concessions on pay...yes..but give away your democratic right to organize...this is way over the top.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | February 18, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"The Governor of Wisconsin should be honored for taking this action. As a private sector employee I have not had a raise in 3 years. "

Here we have the real heart of right wing hatred of unions: How dare anyone else get screwed less than me? I demand everyone else gets dragged back into the bucket of crabs.

There's no excuse for your employer not giving you a raise in 3 years, but it's sad that you think the "solution" is to harm others.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@visionbrkr

Pension benefits for public employees are a matter of public record, unlike private industry benefits. And astonishingly, Wisconsin public employees are not required to contribute to their pensions.

Take a look:
http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/18/news/economy/union_protest/

Posted by: prosecutor1 | February 18, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"...these are also the unions that happened to be more supportive of Walker in the last election. Funny, that."

You know what else is funny, Ezra? Pulling up a list of the companies and organizations who have thus far been granted exemptions from implementing the PPACA...and laying it beside a list of Obama and Democrat campaign donors.

Posted by: dbw1 | February 18, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that this budget "emergency" was caused by republican tax cuts. I'm not sure how the people benefit by reduced taxes and then losing the important state services. Maybe the governor, legislature and their staffs should all take pay cuts, rather than shoving them down everyone else's throats. Their services are obviously not critical.

Posted by: FredR1 | February 18, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

DavidCEisen:
"...and turn down federal money for blue-collar jobs."

Please explain. Are you referring to the high-speed rail boondoggle?

Posted by: dbw1 | February 18, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"The Governor of Wisconsin should be honored for taking this action. As a private sector employee I have not had a raise in 3 years. "

Here we have the real heart of right wing hatred of unions: How dare anyone else get screwed less than me? I demand everyone else gets dragged back into the bucket of crabs.

There's no excuse for your employer not giving you a raise in 3 years, but it's sad that you think the "solution" is to harm others.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoy your comments but I was a little disappointed that you did not call down Joe Scarborough this morning on Morning Joe. He clearly was perpetuating the myth by the mainstream media that this was about amounts of pay. This is about the right to bargain with their employer. Actually you should of pointed out he is punishing people who backed his opponent so he using this a political weapon which is Un-American in nature. While I often disagree with Joe Scarborough I have seldom seem misleading as he was on this issue. Thanks for this information.

Posted by: bradcpa | February 18, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Ezra left out one aspect - the unions have said they're willing to negotiate on specific elements. For instance, paying a higher portion of their health insurance premiums and contributing toward their pensions, basically the only actual "cost-cutting" measures in the bill.

What the unions aren't willing to do is permanently remove their seats from the table.

As for those commenters who observe that favoring the groups that support you is something that both Democrats and Republicans do (in this case, Walker exempting police, state troopers, fire departments) - isn't it telling that those unions, EVEN THOUGH they're not affected, have joined in the protests!

I would guess they understand that what's being attempted with all the other unions could rise up and bite them some day ...

Posted by: blondie3 | February 18, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Scientician:
"...it's sad that you think the "solution" is to harm others."

I almost spit my Mt. Dew on my keyboard when I read this line. This coming from a (presumed) supporter of Democrat's liberal/progressive policies....every single one of which is designed to punish achievers in an attempt to legislate 'fairness'.

Think of health care....the very solution proposed by Democrats sought to fix a problem for a small sliver of the population, but their solution was exactly what 'Scientician' decries: harm everyone else....the rich, the 85% who were perfectly happy with their health insurance prior to the PPACA....

Posted by: dbw1 | February 18, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"I almost spit my Mt. Dew"

This is your first problem right here. Who drinks Mountain Dew?

"every single one of which is designed to punish achievers in an attempt to legislate 'fairness'."

Economics is not a morality play. The winners should pay most because they benefit most from society. It is fairness not punishment that drives us.

"for a small sliver of the population"

Since when is 15% a "small sliver" to leave without health care? That also ignores a further 20% of so who have inadequate health insurance that won't in fact cover them if they get seriously ill. Then there's recission, costs rising far more than the rest of the world and you have an unsustainable mess that only actually works for a small sliver of people rich enough to pay for top flight care out of pocket.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"Here we have the real heart of right wing hatred of unions: How dare anyone else get screwed less than me? I demand everyone else gets dragged back into the bucket of crabs."

The people stuck in the crab bucket are being forced at gunpoint to pay for union largess.

It's still bad in the private sector, as legal protection of unions denies the employer's right to free association, but in the public sector its absolutely inexcusable.

"There's no excuse for your employer not giving you a raise in 3 years, but it's sad that you think the "solution" is to harm others"

Of course there are reasons:

- It's the employer's money to do with as he or she sees fit

- Business conditions are awful

- Inflation has been very mild since the summer of 2008

It takes a lot of nerve to complain about the person in the private sector "harming" public workers, when the public sector workers are always demanding higher compensation, courtesy of the private sector guy who hasn't gotten a raise in years.

Privatize education. Then, pay will reflect percieved value creation as opposed to being a more or less arbitrary number.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Economics is not a morality play. The winners should pay most because they benefit most from society. It is fairness not punishment that drives us."

Morality is irrelevant to economics analysis, but there IS a moral dimension to this situation. Theft is always wrong, and it's what you advocate.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ezra. Agree with you it's telling that he spares unions that favor him politically. It is further telling that as of Jan 31, 2011, Wisconsin had a $56 million budget surplus for the fiscal year, the economy seems to be slowly recovering and things seem to be going better than over the past 2 years. What does the new Governor do about that? Right off the bat he gives $117.2 million in tax breaks to businesses and corporations and now we have a projected deficit for the year. And now he's bashing on teachers.

It is clear the GOP favors the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Teachers have to sacrifice but not millionaires. Not only that, teachers have to disarm and lose their most powerful weapon, collective bargaining. Hey, this mess was not created by teachers, does anyone remember that? It was Republican ideology that crashed the economy, anyone remember that?

Posted by: DavidH3 | February 18, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Not only did the Republicans create this situation by engaging in the reckless behavior that resulted in deregulating the very financial institutions our teachers' pension money was placed in, they decided to engage in class warfare by giving the Firemen and Police Officers a pass, thus dividing and conquering. Furthermore, this Governor placed the state of Wisconsin further in the hole by giving his Corporate benefactors a huge TAX BREAK, paid for by citizens of Wisconsin (THEY JUST DON'T KNOW IT YET)! When the cost of Health Care keeps going up and you have Republicans doing nothing to keep it down what did you think the Republican Legislature and Governor would do? They engage in UNION BUSTING of Teachers first, thus guarnteeing that our children will be ignorant and plyable. Next they will attempt to do away with Child Labor Laws. In fact the Missouri GOP Wants to Repeal Child Labor Laws under Senate Bill 222, the Wisconsin GOP can't be far behind. I could go on but I am painfully aware that the Republicans & FOX News has convinced many ignorant Americans that UP is DOWN, WHITE is BLACK and that the President of the United States is not a U.S. citizen. TAXES are the Governments revenue stream. TAXES pay for services that citizens expect from their Government. When you reduce TAXES you reduce the money available for Government services. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE REALLY DOING? I've said it before and I'll say it again ... The American population, on average, as a whole, reads, writes and comprehends at an 8th Grade Level. The Republicans know that they are dealing with a bunch of 14 year old’s, that is why they are able to convince people to vote against their own best interests. Gee, it sure would be nice if the Federal Government had that $700 Billion Dollars in TAX BREAKS to the very rich. Why they could farm the money around to the States and protect our childrens future. Naw, that's socialism (and what's wrong with that?)

"A conservative is someone who believes that the problem with our economy is that poor people have too much money."

"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." - John Maynard Keynes

"If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders." ~ George Carlin

Posted by: Taylorsucram | February 18, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"The people stuck in the crab bucket are being forced at gunpoint to pay for union largess."

I've never seen an IRS agent with a gun. Pay your damn taxes and stop whining. Universal public education is an absolute right and the people of Wisconsin are standing up for it. You can't turn everything into a damn commodity and your attempts to try hurt everyone so it's time to dispense with your failed worldview.

Neoliberalism failed. Markets cannot solve every problem. If they could, they already would have.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Why do conservatives believe that the answer is always to cut programs, and cut taxes. The "markets" do not solve every problem. You need government. And this Republican voodoo idea that tax cuts create jobs is just ridiculous. Study after study shows that all tax cuts for the upper echelon of society does, is make poor people more poor, and the rich people more rich. Oh, I forgot, conservatives believe that poor people are poor by choice. The truth is, the fact that I'm a person in the private sector who hasn't received a raise, has ZERO relevancy to whether or not a union worker should have the right to BARGAIN.

Posted by: ksanders32 | February 18, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Theft is always wrong, and it's what you advocate."

Society has a role in every paycheque you receive. You drove to work on roads we paid for. You ate food our inspectores ensured was prepared safely. Planes did not crash on your house because of other inspectors. Criminals did not steal your goods because of yet other enforcement.

Go find out what you could earn in Somalia or an empty island. We take a portion of your earnings because we contributed to it by creating the conditions that make it possible.

Taxes aren't theft, they're just society's share of the benefit for whatever you do. Don't like it? Leave. That's democracy. People voted for progressive taxation, you lost.

Still fighting the social contract. It figures.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The problems 'conservatives' rightly have with public service unions having undue influence on officials who negotiate their contracts is valid. The problems 'liberals' have with corporate interests having undue influence on officials who regulate/bail-them-out is valid.

Plutocracy stinks doesn't it?

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | February 18, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Clearly FDR was a right winger then:

"The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable."

Letter from FDR to the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

And what the unions propose Ezra is a multi-part attack on the TAXPAYERS... This is just another special interest group angry that they are being taken off the taxpayer tit. They should all be put on 401ks, should pay 50% of their health care premiums, etc. What is being proposed is paddy cake.

Posted by: cdosquared5 | February 18, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at some facts.
Teachers are compensated 12% less then what their private sector counterparts
http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_teacher_pay/

Taking all public employees show that govenrment employees are compensated 3-7% less then their private sector counterparts.

All these people complaining about "overplayed" public employees are really just ignorant of reality.
They're also just tools of the rich who use these braindeaded people to distract frost the fact that the rich are the only group of people who are not suffering from the recession and are the only group of people seeing a rise in inflation adjusted income and wealth.

Posted by: blueman3 | February 18, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"Plutocracy stinks doesn't it?"

You present the two problems as if they are somehow anywhere near equivalent. We don't even need empiricism, a casual glance at the legislative and policy record of the past 20 years tells you which side more often gets their way.

Card Check did not pass the biggest Democratic majority since the 1970s. Extending the Bush tax cuts did.

There is some concievable set of circumstances where unions are too powerful and extract far too much for their members or leaders, but that place is not America in 2011. Jimmy Hoffa is dead and I think we can all stop flogging his corpse.

Posted by: Scientician | February 18, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@Scientician ""The Governor of Wisconsin should be honored for taking this action. As a private sector employee I have not had a raise in 3 years. "

Here we have the real heart of right wing hatred of unions: How dare anyone else get screwed less than me? I demand everyone else gets dragged back into the bucket of crabs.

There's no excuse for your employer not giving you a raise in 3 years, but it's sad that you think the "solution" is to harm others."

The "excuse" is probably that they couldn't afford to or the "raise" was consumed in rising health care insurance premiums but didn't make it to take home pay.

Regardless, taxpayers are not going to be willing to pay higher taxes to provide public employees with better benefits than the taxpayers themselves now receive.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at some facts.
Teachers are compensated 12% less then what their private sector counterparts
http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_teacher_pay/

Taking all public employees show that govenrment employees are compensated 3-7% less then their private sector counterparts.

All these people complaining about "overplayed" public employees are really just ignorant of reality.
They're also just tools of the rich who use these braindeaded people to distract frost the fact that the rich are the only group of people who are not suffering from the recession and are the only group of people seeing a rise in inflation adjusted income and wealth.

Posted by: blueman3 | February 18, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"The Trouble with Public Sector Unions" from National Affairs

"When it comes to advancing their interests, public-sector unions have significant advantages over traditional unions. For one thing, using the political process, they can exert far greater influence over their members' employers — that is, government — than private-sector unions can. Through their extensive political activity, these government-workers' unions help elect the very politicians who will act as "management" in their contract negotiations — in effect handpicking those who will sit across the bargaining table from them, in a way that workers in a private corporation (like, say, American Airlines or the Washington Post Company) cannot. Such power led Victor Gotbaum, the leader of District Council 37 of the AFSCME in New York City, to brag in 1975: "We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss."

Since public-sector unions began to develop in earnest, their importance in political campaigns has grown by leaps and bounds. Starting from almost nothing in the 1960s, government-workers' unions now far exceed private-sector unions in political contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, from 1989 to 2004, the AFSCME was the biggest spender in America, giving nearly $40 million to candidates in federal elections (98.5% of it to Democrats). It is important to stress that this was spending on federal elections; the union represents mostly state and local workers. But given the magnitude of federal contributions to state budgets, the AFSCME is heavily involved in electioneering to shape Washington's spending in ways that protect public workers and the supply of government services. And so over that 15-year period, the AFSCME was willing and able to outspend any other organization in the country."

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-trouble-with-public-sector-unions

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Lets look at some more facts about unions in general.
Here are some facts about the effects of unionization on accidents and injuries in the workplace.
In England manufacturing plants with union safety committee's experienced
50% less injuries then manufacturing plants without a union prescense.
SOURCE: Reilly, Paci & Holl 'unions, safety committees & workplace injuries' BJIR Vol.33, 1995

In GB the total comparable workforce that was unionized saw 24% less
injuries/accidents then the part of the workforce that was not unionized.
SOURCE: Nichols, Walters and Tasiran, Working Paper Series No 48, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff, 2004.
SOURCE: Litwin, Trade Unions and Industrial Injury in GB, LSE, 2000

In America when the coal industry became unionized there was a 40% drop in accidents/injuries. resulting in 1,548 less deaths a year.
http://www.drake.edu/cbpa/econ/boal/research/acc.pdf

---Why unions have less accidents.
1) Unions are 30% more likely to follow/comply with safety regulations, standards and guidelines.
2) Unions have safety committees whose sole job is to find ways to make the workplace safer.
3) Unions use their bargaining power to make employers make the workplace safer.
4) Unions usually provide better health care meaning more health workers.
5) Union also result in less employee turnover meaning more experienced workers.

Posted by: blueman3 | February 18, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

But, Klein isn't that what Republican's do best... Mislead. Only I would not call it Misleading. How about straight out LYING.

They LIED the Country into a Bogus War with Iraq.

They LIED to the country when they said our Federal Economic state of affairs was solid, even though they CUT TAXES, so that they can have their Bogus War's in Iraq, while claiming to look for Osama Bin Ladin in Iraq under a rock in hopes that millions of us were not paying attention.

And now look, they are once again LYING again to Middle Class American's about Teacher wages and pensions.

Who and what will be in line for the next Republican ATTACK LIES!

Posted by: lcarter0311 | February 18, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Lets look at some facts on the effects of unions and productivity rates.

In America Car plants that are unionized are 27% more productive then non unionized plants.
http://www.oliverwyman.com/content_images/OW_EN_Automotive_Press_2008_HarbourMedia08.pdf

Brown and Medoff found that unionized establishments were 24% more productive then non unionized establishments.
SOURCE: Charles Brown and James L. Medoff, “Trade Unions in the Production Process.” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 86, no. 3 (June 1978): 355–378.

---Why unions workplaces are more productive.
1) Union workers are better compensated meaning they are happier with their job and more willing to work.
2) Union workers receive better health care benefits meaning union workers are less likely to get sick or be sick while working.
3) Unions have lower turnover rates meaning they have a more experienced workforce.
4) Unions are more likely to offer to train their members meaning workers become better trained, also unions are more likely to train their members with the newest technology.
5) Unions also reduced accidents and injuries meaning less time wasted dealing with those things.

Posted by: blueman3 | February 18, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What I don't understand is why they just don't vote on the damn bill. The people of Wisconsin elected this legislative body to represent them, so if it passes it passes, if it doesn't it doesn't. Let the voters be the arbiter in the next election. Why this is national news is beyond me.

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | February 18, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Well for those of us who don't live in Wisconsin, it probably does not matter too much what we think. No doubt this battle is a nasty one. But, unionized public employees are a relatively small number of people compared with the tax payers who have to pay for their wages. Generally, public sector workers have been relatively successful in resisting pressures in our economy that others have had to cope with. But the political pendulum appears to be swinging towards outcomes that will make many people unhappy.

Posted by: dnjake | February 18, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

What's actually most interesting about this attempt at late 19th century union busting is not so much that Walker is exempting the unions whose members backed him, but rather that he is exempting those very unions that arguably should not exist in the first place because they are made up of public safety employees.

Posted by: bdcolen | February 18, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"The Governor of Wisconsin should be honored for taking this action. As a private sector employee I have not had a raise in 3 years."

A few possibilities:
1) Health care costs went up, your increase in compensation was in the form of increased health care spending (this is practically assured unless you receive ZERO health care from your employer)
2) You love you job so much (or get paid enough) that not having a raise in 3 years is somehow acceptable to you.
3) You don't have the skills or education necessary to find a better job (businesses are always hiring for the right skills). If only politicians cared about having better teachers and a stronger education system enough to pay for it.

I guess the only solution is to make it less attractive to be a teacher in the state of Wisconsin and make it even harder for the next generation to escape terrible jobs!

We are stealing from the future!

Posted by: will12 | February 18, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

This action is classic redistribution of money from the middle class.

It is also classic over reaching of the election mandate.

And they ate destroying jobs instead of creating them.

And as Citizens united increases GOP power on one hand, we now see it at the same time is used as a fist to eviscerate opposition.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 18, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The Rules to Hide and Go Seek

Hiders can make a dash for Home Base, which is usually a landmark where whoever is it counts off. Touching the base area makes a hider safe, and the aim of the game is to touch base without being tagged. It continues to search for hiders and if he/she finds none then he is it again in the next game. If however, he finds and tags someone before they are able to touch base, he calls out in a loud and repeated fashion “All ye all ye outs in free”, “all ye, all ye, in come free”, or where the call has been changed and slurred “Olly Olly Oxen free!” which means a new it has been tagged and all the other hiders are safe to return to base.

Hey WI Democrat Senators – we found one of you OLLY OLLY OXEN FREE!

Posted by: 912anita | February 18, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

It's worth remembering that this is no issue of unionized workers vs. taxpayers. Union workers ARE taxpayers. And if unions bargain for higher wages, their members are paying higher taxes. If unions bargain for better benefits for their members, that's something to emulate, not criticize. The teacher, the fireman, the policeman, the clerk, the bus driver -- they live on your street, shop at your grocery, vote in your precinct, show up for jury duty.

Posted by: crosspalms | February 18, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to cosign to everything Scientician and blueman3 are saying. One of the major reasons for the growth of the middle class in the 1950s and the economic boom then was the fact that we had strong unions. Generally, unions ensure that their workers benefit from their hard work when the companies benefit. As for complaints about pensions/health plans, workers usually take these in negotiations *instead* of raises, so to complain about them now is somewhat absurd.

Posted by: gregM2 | February 18, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Quite true Mr. Kein and very well said. I'll just add a few more truths regarding the right wing of today. People wondered how it happened that such a culture as Germany had prior to Hitler could have been so easily subverted. You see what happened in Germany being replicated here, now, before your very eyes. Put a republican in office and you can always expect the fascist to use Nazi-like remedies to deal with all and every matter. Right wing goons are being readied (are ready and have been used in the 2010 campaigns) for assaults on protesters at political rallies and peaceful union organizing meetings. First they intimidate, then threaten and finally they shed blood. Show me an activist republican and I will show you a crypto-Nazi.

Posted by: tuonela | February 18, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"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. "


The law clearly allows increases beyond CPI when approved by referendum. Why do you ignore this provision?

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

How about a compromise: government workers get to keep their collective bargaining rights but their unions can't participate in political campaigns. There's something obscene about public workers who by definition get thier pay and benefits from the public using the publics money to buy politicians to then give them more pay and benefits. I believe that's called conflict of interest.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 18, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"As I understand it, the teachers and at least some of the other Wisconsin public workers have a pension plan where they have historically made NO contributions and these reforms call for them to start contributing to fund their own retirement plans. What a radical idea!"

Liberals won't talk about how states are not required to transparently disclose these obligations.

In fact, the state of NJ openly lied about these obligations under Governor McGreevey. They sold bonds in violation of SEC regulations without penalty.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"In America Car plants that are unionized are 27% more productive then non unionized plants.

http://www.oliverwyman.com/content_images/OW_EN_Automotive_Press_2008_HarbourMedia08.pdf."

If we look at your link, we find on page 5 that because of "productivity improvements, employee buyouts are bringing Detroit 3 to *near* productivity parity with Asian rivals".

On page 16, we see Toyota leads in parts per labor hour.

On page 18, we see Toyota leads again in lowest hours per engine.

On page 24, we see Toyota leads in lowest total labor hours per unit.

On page 28, we find that until the auto industry crash, union labor costs per vehicle were roughly 60% higher than for nonunionized shops. So even if the 27% higher productivity claim is true (not obvious from the slides), it wouldn't matter because the higher productivity wasn't worth the money.

As we know from recent history, 2 out of 3 unionized auto companies required a bailout, versus none of the nonunion companies.

"Brown and Medoff found that unionized establishments were 24% more productive then non unionized establishments"

If unions are so great for productivity, why on Earth do businesses broadly oppose them? Do businesses hate productivity?

Either the ivory tower productivity estimates are incorrect, or unions raise costs to such heights and damage flexibility to such an extent that the higher productivity isn't worth the money.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Thank you Ezra. Agree with you it's telling that he spares unions that favor him politically. It is further telling that as of Jan 31, 2011, Wisconsin had a $56 million budget surplus for the fiscal year, the economy seems to be slowly recovering and things seem to be going better than over the past 2 years. What does the new Governor do about that? Right off the bat he gives $117.2 million in tax breaks to businesses and corporations and now we have a projected deficit for the year. And now he's bashing on teachers."


Dishonesty debunked in the other thread.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"You don't need to get rid of collective bargaining to reduce "overly generous" wage and benefits, you just need to be better bargainers.

And if taxpayers want good teachers, they are going to have to pay for it."


The number of teachers in 1990 in this nation was 33% less than today.

Adjusted for inflation, education spending in 1990 was 50% less than today.

Time to REVERSE the government education industry complex!

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

It seems rather "non-market" driven to force wages to adjust according to a CPI-like indicator. I'd like to see supply/demand as a real factor- if there is a teacher shortage, you want to be able to offer better wages. If there is a surplus, you want to be able to offer lower wages.

There is no right for public sector unions to participate in collective bargaining, just as there is no legally protected right for a monopoly supplier of goods or services to exist.

Posted by: staticvars | February 18, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Unions do destroy jobs. An overpaid union employee who has strung the taxpayer out to demand extreme payments, often hidden in the future via defined benefit pensions, means that fewer people can be employed.

Posted by: staticvars | February 18, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

If public sector jobs are so well paying, so easy to do, a so little supervised as to what is produced, why does anyone choose to work in the private sector? There is a great deal of assumption going on here and for some reason we all are assuming everyone is a lazy public employee who can't get fired.

I am a public teacher although not in Wisconsin. I was required to get an $80k master's degree so I can do my job and get paid $35k a year, so don't tell me I am here for the money. My classroom numbers increasingly get bigger each year, I have taken pay freezes for the last three years, harming a pension which I do pay into. All these concessions were achieved and arrived at through negotiations.

Can we quit assuming everyone else is the lazy, good-for-nothing freeloader and actually talk about the problem? If not, I guess we can continue to blame everyone else since it has worked so well for the last two years or so.

Posted by: chads | February 18, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"Let's look at some facts.
Teachers are compensated 12% less then what their private sector counterparts
http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_teacher_pay/"

Okay, then let's privatize education.

"Taking all public employees show that govenrment employees are compensated 3-7% less then their private sector counterparts."

Let's start privatizing! Get the government out of the way, and these workers' wages will float to their true worth.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If the Wisconsin wants to reduce the amount spent on workers benefits, they could author a bill for all state and municipal employees requiring the minimum contribution of twenty percent towards the costs for their retirement and health plans. Further, they could limit the cost and scope of plans offered to employees regardless of union affiliation. The pending bill is something quite different; it ends collective bargaining for all unions except police, firefighters, state troopers, and inspectors. The unions Republicans like get one deal; unions they don’t like lose their representation.

The duplicitous and divisive tactics of the Republican Party is shameful. They’d rather goosestep to their talking points of “unions are bad” versus drafting a bill addressing the state’s finances while exempting the unions they perceive as their Praetorian guard.

Posted by: blueskize | February 18, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

For those who want to revert to working conditions before the union movement, read some history. Workers across the spectrum enjoy favorable wages and working conditions because of labor unions, not because of the beneficence of employers. And that includes the military.

Unregulated companies and corporations did whatever they wanted to increase profits without regard to human needs of workers. How do I know this? My father worked in a coal mine in PA when he was 13 years old, before unions. Why do you think companies are outsourcing now? They can find the same pre-union conditions in Bangladesh.

Careful what you wish for.

Posted by: razelme | February 18, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"I've never seen an IRS agent with a gun. Pay your damn taxes and stop whining."

And what if I don't pay taxes? What then?

What if I won't submit to being taken away to prison? What then?

"Universal public education is an absolute right and the people of Wisconsin are standing up for it."

Education is a service, not a right. The people of Wisconsin want to take other peoples' money by force - in any other context, everyone recognizes that as theft. However, if it is truly an absolute right, force the teachers to work for free. Per your assertion, they have no right to refuse.

"You can't turn everything into a damn commodity"

I'm sorry reality isn't to your liking. Education is a service.

"and your attempts to try hurt everyone so it's time to dispense with your failed worldview."

I'm not hurting anyone. I'm minding my own business and asking everyone else to be gracious enough to do the same.

"Neoliberalism failed. Markets cannot solve every problem. If they could, they already would have."

The failing sectors are up to their eyeballs in government.

Education? Health Care? Finance?

Heavy government involvement, for generations.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra, at least you could read a column from your own newspaper a little more closely.

Harold Meyerson noted "a number of police and firefighter unions supported Walker in the last election". That's "a number", NOT "the unions that happened to be more supportive of Walker in the last election". It's also "a number" that is smaller than the number of police and firefighter unions that supported Walker's Democratic gubernatorial opponent Tom Barret.

Posted by: Cheeseland | February 18, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"You don't need to get rid of collective bargaining to reduce "overly generous" wage and benefits, you just need to be better bargainers.

And if taxpayers want good teachers, they are going to have to pay for it."


The number of teachers in 1990 in this nation was 33% less than today.

Adjusted for inflation, education spending in 1990 was 50% less than today.

Time to REVERSE the government education industry complex!

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 3:19 PM |
---------------
Umm Krazen1211 my man. You do realize The US has gained over 60 million people since 1990? I would think the number of teachers would have to rise to meet the increased population right? I'm not even going to try to verify your statistics. They look on their face suspicous and you don't provide a source to verify the numbers.


By the way here is my source for my numbers http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=uspopulation&met=population&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=us+population

Posted by: 6thsense79 | February 18, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"For those who want to revert to working conditions before the union movement, read some history. Workers across the spectrum enjoy favorable wages and working conditions because of labor unions, not because of the beneficence of employers."

Not the beneficence, but the self interest of employers. Wages are very high in the United States relative to other countries, yet 93.1% of the private sector isn't represented by a union. we still have weekends and a high standard of living without union representation.

"Unregulated companies and corporations did whatever they wanted to increase profits without regard to human needs of workers."

Workers care about the human needs of workers, and as adults they can look after their own affairs. They can work for whomever they wish, or even themselves.

"My father worked in a coal mine in PA when he was 13 years old, before unions."

Why did he do it, and for that matter, why did your grandparents let him do it? He wasn't a slave to the coal mine.

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Good idea.

Posted by: 4Redskins | February 18, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Umm Krazen1211 my man. You do realize The US has gained over 60 million people since 1990? I would think the number of teachers would have to rise to meet the increased population right? I'm not even going to try to verify your statistics. They look on their face suspicous and you don't provide a source to verify the numbers."

Public school enrollment was 19.2% higher in 2010 than 1990, growing from 46.86 million to 55.85 million.

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65

The student-teacher ratio declined from 17.4 in 1990-1991 to 15.7 in 2007-2008.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2010/section4/table-qpt-1.asp

Total spending grew by 5.8%/yr on primary and secondary education from 1990-2008, from $222.5 billion to $611.8 billion, or about 2.6%/yr after subtracting out inflation. Spending per student after subtracting out inflation grew 1.7%/yr, resulting in ~35% increase in the cost of education per student over 18 years, again after taking out inflation.

http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TableView.asp?SelectedTable=117&ViewSeries=NO&Java=no&Request3Place=N&3Place=N&FromView=YES&Freq=Year&FirstYear=1990&LastYear=2008&3Place=N&Update=Update&JavaBox=no

Posted by: justin84 | February 18, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"---------------
Umm Krazen1211 my man. You do realize The US has gained over 60 million people since 1990? I would think the number of teachers would have to rise to meet the increased population right? I'm not even going to try to verify your statistics. They look on their face suspicous and you don't provide a source to verify the numbers."

I've provided them many, many times on these forums.

By the way, that's a gain of 25% in population.


http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_064.asp


Public school teachers in 1990: 2.398 million

Public school teachers in 2010: 3.310 million


Disgusting!


Technology is supposed to INCREASE productivity.

Historical REAL education spending:

Education
Fiscal Years 1990 to 2016
Year GDP-US
$ billion (2005) Education -total
$ bln 2005
1990 8033.9 422.34
2010 13038.7 812.97


Disgusting!

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

People who think this is a good idea, unless they are rich, are idiots. If they think that getting rid of unions will help them - it won't. It will do the opposite and speed up the erosion of workers' pay and benefits, the race to the bottom we are already seeing.

Posted by: catherine3 | February 18, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I think it's just coincidental the police and fire unions were more supportive of his bid. I think Walker is favoring the police and fire as a way of dividing unionized state workers. Police and fire are perceived as being the "most important" in the public mind. By exempting them, he's co-opting a lot of opposition. But once he's succeeded with this, I fully expect he will pull the same routine with the police and fire. They'll all hang.

Posted by: fritzIII | February 18, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Police and fire contracts should limit the amount of overtime pay they are allowed to include in their pension calculations to prevent the final year worked from being loaded up with large amounts of overtime to get a higher pension benefit for life.
Basically what has been happening is that the state is really paying a full time work force the size of active workers plus everyone who retires with full pay because they abused the system. Also it should be noted that the retirees probably out number the active duty personnel.
If the truth actually got out it would show what crooks the unions and their members really are.
There response is it is legal, screw you.
The publics response should be lets change the law so it will prevent abuse.

Posted by: nychap44 | February 18, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Admit it, this is a brilliant political move. He can seriously weaken the most financially active part of the Democratic Party. If he can think of legal ways to go after other Democratic consituencies, Wisconsin will be a majority Republican state forever. I hope this strategy moves to the national level and we can completely destroy the Democratic party, so that it can never again side with our enemies and try to destroy our country. I'm all for using the police for mass arrests and imprisonment if that's what it takes.

Posted by: salanatoli | February 18, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Admit it, this is a brilliant political move. He can seriously weaken the most financially active part of the Democratic Party. If he can think of legal ways to go after other Democratic consituencies, Wisconsin will be a majority Republican state forever. I hope this strategy moves to the national level and we can completely destroy the Democratic party, so that it can never again side with our enemies and try to destroy our country. I'm all for using the police for mass arrests and imprisonment if that's what it takes.

Posted by: salanatoli | February 18, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Some points to ponder:

1) Although the partisans on both sides will deny it, it IS possible to object strenuously to Walker's plan to strip Wisconsin public employees' right to bargain collectively (is anyone seriously denying that that's what he's doing?) while still supporting the notion that the current plan for benefits is not sustainable and must be adjusted, perhaps significantly. How much adjustment and to which benefit(s) is what negotiation is for. But Walker is summarily preempting such negotiation.

[Aside: Given the red ink involved, I think the WI public employees unions should be prepared to give some ground or they'll get a very bad outcome. I think we're headed for less defined benefit plans and more defined contribution ones, like it or not--most of us (me included) live that way. Unlike Gov. Walker, however, I don't think that public employees, as represented by their unions, should have virtually no say in the matter.]

2) Many object to unions for public employees on the basis of disproportionate union support for Democrats (although apparently some WI public employee unions favored Walker . . . well, then, is that OK?). Union support is two-fold: campaign contributions funded by union dues AND unions' ability to motivate workers to vote, as in "get out the vote." If the monetary support is out-of-line, then let us have campaign finance laws to limit it. OH, SORRY!! . . . SCOTUS ruled last year that corporations (and this applies to unions, don't forget) are persons whose free speech (and campaign contributions) can't be limited. OOPSIE! And as far as people getting to vote, is there anyone who seriously thinks that unions have no right to encourage their members to vote and to vote a certain way? Unions cannot FORCE members to vote at all or to vote a certain way, of course, unless there truly is no secret ballot for elections. And if unions are governed democratically (yes, I know that there is corruption sometimes/someplaces), unions can choose ANY candidate to support (and apparently they do).

OK, so is it possible that unions, particularly public employee ones, can have disproportionate power in public affairs? Of course (you may plug in your villains of choice]. Is it possible that corporations and wealthy individuals can have disproportionate power in public affairs? Of course (you may plug in your villains of choice]. That's why we need checks and balances, folks. So think twice about eliminating part of that machinery. And be careful what you wish for: the _Citizens United_ ruling gives unions a freer hand, too.

Gawd, this governance stuff is complicated!

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | February 18, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Nicely done, Mr. Klein. Governor Walker is about as honest as, oh, I don't know, Mitch McConnell. But not nearly as smart.


Posted by: amelia45 | February 18, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Discover Ezra Klein and his Role in
the "JOURNOLIST" scandal by going here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JournoList

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 18, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Discover Ezra Klein and his Role in the "JOURNOLIST" scandal by going here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JournoList

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 18, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

@justin84: Why did he do it, and for that matter, why did your grandparents let him do it? He wasn't a slave to the coal mine.

Wow, just wow...Those dumb hicks actually think they need to eat, have clothes and shelter against the elements, etc..

Freedom to starve...

Posted by: srw3 | February 18, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

As was stated by another poster - the unions have said they're willing to negotiate on specific elements. For instance, paying a higher portion of their health insurance premiums and contributing toward their pensions.
There has been no talks with unions...it has been Governor Walkers way or the highway. What is at stake is the rights of employees to collectively bargain. Yes, the rallying and closure of schools are extreme but people feel they have no choice because Governor Walker has not been willing to talk with unions and the employees about working with him. He smacked them in the face...what would you do? This shouldn't be about political parties, it should be about conducting yourself in a civil, descent manner. Governor Walker did not and thus other's feel forced to go to extreme measures.
The hate I have seen and heard is disturbing. People spout party rhetoric without knowledge, condemning those who are just trying to have a voice in the only way they feel they can. Hate and division only produces more. How can anything productive happen if the Government is unwilling to work with the People for comprimise on both ends....real compromise not just smoke and mirrors. If the Government(Walker) actually tried it may be suprising what could be accomplished. A heavy hand does not do anything but bring conflict and descent.

"As polarization grips Wisconsin’s Capitol, middle ground of any description is conspicuously absent. On a multitude of levels, the center has not held."(John Gurda)

Posted by: silc | February 18, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me that we need to get the children out of determing laws and have some adults sit down and solve the problem in a civil adult way. The governor wants to "kill the goose that laid the golden egg," by demanding too many things at once. If he didn't demand an end to collective bargaining, he could pass the measure on salaries, health-care and pensions. But no, he wants it all. That brings both sides into shouting, "So's you old man," and "my big brother can beat up your big brother." Childish.

Posted by: diamond2 | February 18, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me that we need to get the children out of determing laws and have some adults sit down and solve the problem in a civil adult way. The governor wants to "kill the goose that laid the golden egg," by demanding too many things at once. If he didn't demand an end to collective bargaining, he could pass the measure on salaries, health-care and pensions. But no, he wants it all. That brings both sides into shouting, "So's you old man," and "my big brother can beat up your big brother." Childish.

Posted by: diamond2 | February 18, 2011 8:01 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me that we need to get the children out of determing laws and have some adults sit down and solve the problem in a civil adult way. The governor wants to "kill the goose that laid the golden egg," by demanding too many things at once. If he didn't demand an end to collective bargaining, he could pass the measure on salaries, health-care and pensions. But no, he wants it all. That brings both sides into shouting, "So's you old man," and "my big brother can beat up your big brother." Childish.

Posted by: diamond2 | February 18, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I think there's a basic problem with public sector employees being able to vote themselves benefits.

There's nothing wrong with collective bargaining, but there IS something wrong with the intersection of self-interest and democracy. And public sector unions don't just have the power of collective bargaining, they also have the power to vote and politically mobolize. If people can simply vote in politicians who will increase their paychecks, and the person paying those checks does so by force of law (taxpayers), you have an imbalance that you don't have with private sector employees. Private sector unions have to consider the risk of bankrupting the company they work for or imparing it's competitiveness. But when public sector unions threaten to bankrupt the state government, they can always demand that taxes be raised on other people instead.

Private sector unions are thus subject to competitive pressure that public employees are not.

As we have seen this has resulting in public sector benefits and wages rising disproportionately relative to the general economy.

Governor Walker's proposal that collective bargaining agreements be put to a public vote is quite appropriate. If taxpayers had the option of voting on public sector benefits then there would be some counter to the ability of public worker unions to use political influence (rather than just bargaining strength) to increase their own paychecks.

Posted by: tjk1 | February 18, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Is this "News" or "Op-Ed"

Posted by: spf_zero | February 18, 2011 9:26 PM | Report abuse

"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."

If by weakening you mean removing its privileges to force workers into accepting its claim to represent them. Unions should have to continuously justify their existence to the workers they claim to represent. They shouldn't be given an endless role as a middle man in the industry's labor supply by skimming hundreds of dollars out of every workers' paychecks.

Posted by: cprferry | February 18, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Actually, this bill smells of a Bill of Attainder to me, because it exempts unions that supported Walkers campaign for no logical reason. I wonder if it could be challenged on that point.

Ironically, most of the real pension abuses you hear of in the news are from the unions Walker is protecting: cops and firefighters. Unlike teachers, it is easy for them to spike their pay and play rotating chief.

Posted by: brickcha | February 18, 2011 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually, this bill smells of a Bill of Attainder to me, because it exempts unions that supported Walkers campaign for no logical reason. I wonder if it could be challenged on that point.

Ironically, most of the real pension abuses you hear of in the news are from the unions Walker is protecting: cops and firefighters. Unlike teachers, it is easy for them to spike their pay and play rotating chief.

Posted by: brickcha | February 18, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Don't know if this makes much of a difference but in the most recent election cycle the firefighters and polices unions made a total of $23000 each in campaign contributions in Wisconsin, and the majority of that went to Democrats. Meanwhile there were at least 4 other unions representing teachers and civil service workers that contributed 90% or more to Democrats.

I imagine why firefighters and police are routinely excluded from these bills, even when introduced by cost-conscious Democrats, is that they are one of the few public sector jobs where they need a strong advocate to demand work place safety and appropriate justice.

Posted by: cprferry | February 18, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

In total police and firefighters contributed $47K split between Democrats and Republicans to the teachers' $376K and other workers' $150K nearly all to Democrats.

So, Ezra, who is protecting who here?

Posted by: cprferry | February 18, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

"Let's look at some facts.
Teachers are compensated 12% less then what their private sector counterparts
http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_teacher_pay/"

That couldn't have anything to do with the proportion of teachers in the public sector to the private sector? The private sector, which claims to offer the better schools, consciously pay a premium over the well-established, fully-disclosed public sector baseline.

Posted by: cprferry | February 19, 2011 6:13 AM | Report abuse

"

Admit it, this is a brilliant political move. He can seriously weaken the most financially active part of the Democratic Party. If he can think of legal ways to go after other Democratic consituencies, Wisconsin will be a majority Republican state forever. I hope this strategy moves to the national level and we can completely destroy the Democratic party, so that it can never again side with our enemies and try to destroy our country. I'm all for using the police for mass arrests and imprisonment if that's what it takes.

Posted by: salanatoli"

Very true. What we have here are a number of institutions have bullied their way in and now divert hundreds of millions of dollars from workers' paychecks to the Democrat party's campaign coffers every year. Sometimes they'll even take a paid sick day or perform slowdowns on the job to lobby for the Democrat party and its interests. It's time to end their special privileges and free the workers. The existing regulatory framework provides adequate protections for workers. Although I'd be willing to compromise if they would be banned from lobbying. It's one thing to negotiate labor from the board room, it's another to buy off a whole political party.

Posted by: cprferry | February 19, 2011 6:57 AM | Report abuse

A comment on PJM elegantly refutes Ezra and his JournoList flacks:
"The whole concept of public unions should be illegal, in that it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality. Simultaneously, each of those privately-employed citizens who together pay the bulk of the union members’ salaries have but one vote, and effectively no power to fight off the unions’ ever-greedier demands. One man, one vote? Not when there are public unions, who offer nothing but specious rationalizations and thuggery when challenged. Public unions are undemocratic in theory, and stink of nothing but corruption in reality. They must all be dissolved."

So Trumka and Jackson and Obama can stay out of Wisconsin and the Demonrat senators can return---your time has come.

Posted by: djman1141 | February 19, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I love it when the Indonesian Imbecile jumps into the fray before realizing that Walker's jujitsu move is going to make him seem a bigger bag of wind than he already is---although achieving that feat stretches the imagination beyond reasonable limits.

The fact is clear that unions are undemocratic both internally, where its political funding allocations are done in a manner opaque to its membership, and publically, as it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality.

Then, when they are finally deprived of their demonrat party crutches, they go ballistic and claim bad faith and make special pleading, which makes even diehard liberals like Joe Klein retch in public.

Wisconsin public service unions pay nothing at the moment into their retirement funds, as I do with my private-sector pension fund. Their working conditions are idyllic compared to working outside or in dangerous factory circumstances. And finally, they are used as a funding source by the corrupt Demonrat Party, which will go under like the Titanic if Obama insists on acting out his Indonesian Imbecile persona. This is a very special fool we have in the Oval Office, a close facsimile and presumptuous imitator of the worst president of the 20th c., Jimmy Carter.

Call Obama Carter Redux.

Posted by: djman1141 | February 19, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The Unions are NOT going to quit. Already Union Thugs are besieging Speaker Boehner's Home. Let us see what sort of protection is provided by the Judiciary and Law Enforcement inhabiting that Nest of "Progressive" Liberal Dewmocrats in the District Metropolitan Area.

The money has run out and the LEFT's only acceptable solution is additional taxes. The Rank and File of the Government Employee Unions were deceived by their Union Bosses, appointed Government Bureaucrats, and the Elected Officials who negotiated their impossible-to-fulfill Union Contracts. The cascade of lies continues, echoed by the President of these United States.

There is no money, and the Rank and File must be mollified somehow. Il Duce Benito Mussolini might show them the way. Does President Obama have the Text of his "Enabling Act" in his private safe?

Posted by: gjtitus | February 19, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"@justin84: Why did he do it, and for that matter, why did your grandparents let him do it? He wasn't a slave to the coal mine.

Wow, just wow...Those dumb hicks actually think they need to eat, have clothes and shelter against the elements, etc..

Freedom to starve..."

That's the point Srw3 - it was better from the grandparent's point of view to have the 13 year old working compared with the alternative options. That's why child labor is prevalent in poor societies with low productivity.

Now contrast that situation with America today: most high school kids aren't even in the labor force!

Posted by: justin84 | February 19, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Union busting is the bottom line of Walker's proposal as it is in Idaho, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and in every other state where the elected leaders who support putting the burden of solving the budget problem on teachers and other public employees. Have they forgotten the voters that elected them. I don't think these proposals came out in their campaigns. They wouldn't have dared. DO you really think they don't vote!

Posted by: timelyviews | February 19, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I just saw an interview on the CBS News Sunday Morning show. In the interview, one supporter of the new budget reduction bill proposed by Wisconsin Gov. Walker declared that her work performance dictates what she should earn and that she doesn’t need a union to help her. In my experience that is not the truth.

The real issue is not how hard people work. The naïve interviewee has mistakenly looked at herself as a person, worker, and dedicated employee. The truth of the matter is that she is just a number. The people in power don’t care how hard she works, how much she has believed in and sacrificed for her job. If the people in power can manipulate a few extra bucks out of business they will do so on the backs of the common worker. And it isn’t necessarily for the money. The people in power want to be viewed as successful and that becomes their driving force. They no longer see right from wrong, they just need to meet their goal and to feel good about themselves, even if it means destroying others. Their goals have become addictive, even enticing. They are like a gambler who has to try just one last time to “hit the big one”. That is also what is happening to our political arena. I see our politicians striving for the goal of being able to say “I won” rather than I did the right thing.
Don’t take away people’s bargaining rights. It will have too far reaching affects on the future of our children.

Posted by: gplochocki | February 20, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I'm coming late to the party. I had to work today....I'm one of 2 or 3 here in michigan with private sector jobs.

Blueman3: if you're union utopia views were real, why has Michigan, my wonder filled unionized state with 10%+ unemployment, suffered an unprecedented exodus of automotive manufacturing to neighboring states in the last 8 years? And why have the majority of new automotive plants located to states that are typically "right to work" and non union? Gotta love those "unproductive unsafe" non union workers. Seems like no one told them they are supposed to be less productive and unsafe.
Scientician: Could you please site your legal source that an education is a universal right? I must not have the same version of the constitution you have. Google it, it's ez. Could it be that public education is an Entitlement? I think you've confused a constitutional right with an entitlement.

Posted by: dnelsm | February 20, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It was really hard to get this information from all the news reports (many are confusing or misleading)

good... they will have to contribute to their pension and health care premiums (aligns with rest of US workers)

ok : (the following doesn't disallow unions but make it so that a union member has to take action to stay in union- nothing automatic)
1. unions will be responsible for collecting dues (cant use payroll deduction)
2. union members have to vote once a year in secret ballot to maintain union
3. union member is allowed to choose whether to pay dues.

not sure:
1. raises can be negotiated by unions but cannot go above the the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by a referendum
2. if governer declares state of emergency and strikers do not go back to work, they can be terminated (makes sense for a small group (hospitals,etc
but could be abused for other groups ie. teachers)

bad: certain groups cannot collective bargain (this is not right !!!!)
1. Quality Health Care Authority
2. Child Care labor relations
3. UW Hospital and Clinics
4. UW Madison faculty and staff

bad: certain groups are except (police,fire) ...why is that

Posted by: timocallag | February 21, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

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