Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 3:55 PM ET, 02/17/2011

The stakes in Wisconsin

By Greg Sargent

It's worth stepping back and trying to appreciate how big the stakes have become in Wisconsin for public employees and for organized labor in general.

Union officials say they're investing a surprising amount of energy in trying to defeat the push to strip public employees of their bargaining rights because they view this as a precedent setter for a whole range of other coming battles against anti-labor proposals in other states. If labor can defeat this proposal, it will put other GOP-controlled state governments on notice that if they move forward with similarly aggressive proposals targeting public employees, they can expect to have a massive fight on their hands.

At the same time, there may be bit of a potential downside in turning this into an opening skirmish in a much larger war, one that's now unfolding in the national media spotlight as national unions send operatives into the state. If labor loses after staking so much on this battle, other state governments may feel emboldened about forging forward with their own efforts to weaken municipal unions.

Why is this particular fight such an important precedent-setter? Wisconsin governor Scott Walker insists his proposal is all about fiscal austerity. But as Brian Beutler notes, it actually goes far beyond this: Scaling back the bargaining rights of public workers doesn't save money by itself. It knocks down a barrier in a way that makes cutting into workers' benefits generally easier, and strikes at a core set of rights that labor stands for.

People on both sides of this fight say its outcome could have major ramifications for the fights that are to come. Here's a rundown:

In Ohio, lawmakers are holding hearings this week to limit bargaining rights for about 400,000 public employees under Republican Gov. John Kasich's plan.

More than a dozen other states are considering so-called right-to-work proposals that would give private-sector workers the option of not belonging to a union or paying dues even if the union bargains with an employer on their behalf. Virginia is already a right-to-work state, but there is an effort to put that provision in the state constitution. In Michigan, an initiative has been filed that would eliminate state employee collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers in around 10 other states are looking at introducing legislation that would "bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees, reducing the flow of funds into union treasuries."

Governor Walker of Wisconsin knows that this fight has become a battle in a much larger war. Indeed, in the midst of the ongoing crisis in his state, Walker actually called Governor Kaisch of Ohio, who's contemplating similar proposals, to "commiserate" about what he's going through.

By Greg Sargent  | February 17, 2011; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  Labor  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wisconsin Dems in hiding to avoid law enforcement, Dem aide says
Next: Missing Wisconsin Dem speaks: We're MIA until GOP drops assault on workers rights

Comments

It seems there are some here in the United States who want to start a war among their fellow citizens. I don't mean a shouting match, I mean a real shooting war.

For most of us, this has always been a wayward fiction, something to easily dismiss. But when I see the actions being taken by those in power against their political opponents, I am left being not so sure. For some, and for some in power, I think they really do want to start a new civil war.

Be careful what you wish for, you may well get it.

Posted by: kindness1 | February 17, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The agents of The Oligarchs are waging class warfare on the middle class workers in America. They want to return America to the days of the Plantation owners.

f Hosni Mubarak Walker voids the teachers' collective bargining contract, then the teachers will have every right to withhold their services. They should shut down every public school in the state.

Let's see Hosni Mubarak Walker have the Wisc. National Guard take over the teaching duties in every public school in the state.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"Let's see... Walker have the Wisc. National Guard take over the teaching duties."

Ha! The kids would probably be better for it!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 17, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

Can you also update this story to point out that Gov. Walker actually created the crisis he is now claiming is the reason for this bill?

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/wisconsin-gov-walker-ginned-up-budget-shortfall-to-undercut-worker-rights.php?ref=fpb

If labor loses this battle, not only does it embolden other states to take up this sort of union-busting legislation under the veil of "tough cuts", but it actually provides GOP Govs incentive to create budget problems so they can provide this as a "solution".

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 17, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I have irrefutable proof that unions are completely unnecessary.

Who makes more, the CEO of Ford or the assemblyline worker? The CEO, without benefit of a union!

See, if we don't have unions, everyone will get paid like a CEO.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | February 17, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Greg for putting into a national scope what is going on in WI, and will be continued in other states. There is a systematic plan to break public employee unions.
The GOP, especially scum like Rove, know that the US demographics are trending away from the GOP.The GOP master plan has been to keep as many people away from the voting booths as possible. The GOP goes nuts every time some state wants to institute a sign up to vote when you get a driver's license. Unions like AFSME are the foot soldiers for getting out the votes in many states, especially the large industrial states like PA, OH, MI, etc. Break the unions, hence a diminished and less organized get out the vote effort and Voila! The GOP gives lip service to the democratic process, but they only believe in it for themselves.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 17, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't think public employees and organized labor in general are in the same venn diagram. Or maybe better to say they are but they shouldn't be.

Sure I support teachers and public employees and I support organized labor. I do not support the Republican action in WI. I support a lot of what the Governor of NJ is doing and also, Bloomberg in NYC is in a good fight against the rubber room.

Now, as the approbation rains down, do it I don't care, I will say I do not support a lot of what Hizzonor and Cristie do, I'll never ever vote Republican, they are worse than Democrats just to save the keystrokes.

America has a big problem with AFSCME and SEIU, but the problem, which isn't about money, not really, can not be fixed by outlawing them, they have to be made obsolete.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Unions have never needed a federal government bailout, but CEO's often have!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Good post, Greg. As I said in a more detailed comment on the last thread, this is about politics, not economics.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 17, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

What strident nonsense from the liberals here. Go look at the pictures and read the news reports about the doings in WI.

Who is it carrying the signs depicting the Gov as Hitler. Hint, it ain't the so called oligarchs (just too funny). It is the union members.

If there is to be a shooting war I am convinced that the unions will start it. Remember these are the guys that have used threats and intimidation throughout their sad history.

How many liberal blow hards here remember the "demonstration" on the front lawn of the banker in Maryland? Gosh the cops (also in a union) did nothing while the SEIU trampled all over the citizens property and scared the heck out of their young son who was home alone.

But I didn't hear a peep about that from the leftie wags here. Oh no.

Now that the public has had enough and we're unwilling to give up more of our hard earned money to the gummint wastrels libs are wringing thier hands in dismay.

Meanwhile Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the Obama white house and AFSCME spend the most on the last election. Gosh, I wonder why.

the voters are apparently smarter than the liberal elites. In state after state the spenders were thrown out and the cutters were ushered in.

Even in Ohio, a bastion of unionization, the voters created a Republican legislature for the first time in a long time, and a Republican in the govenor's office.

There are a variety of good reasons for this. Among them: No jobs. Employers and people leaving. An 8 BILLION dollar shortfall and an overbearing government that left the state ranked near the bottom in business friendliness.

so go ahead, shut down the schools. Shut down the gummint. Show the taxpayers of America that they were right about the greed of the government and its unions.

go ahead. make my day.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 17, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The folks at FDL thinks it's a good thing if Republicans sweep state legislatures because it will mobilize people to protest.

So, in other words people, don't show up to vote, if anyone says something positive about Obama, shoot them down and post the top 100 things Obama has done to destroy this country in the hopes they'll stay home too!

It's a winning strategy according to FDL'ers!

I can't wait till 2012!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Service Unions are the only organized labor forces standing between the Oligarchs and Plantation rules and compensation levels for America's working class.

Since most manufacturing has been outsourced, the Service Unions are the only remaining foot soldiers, to defend the rights of workers, to earn a living wage, with safe and healthy working conditions.

Read your history, of what it was like in America, before the Unions were formed.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

@Liam-still "Unions have never needed a federal government bailout, but CEO's often have!"

For all intents and purposes, the GM bailout was a bailout of the United Autoworkers union as well. They were able to get special bankruptcy treatment for their pension plan, rather than have it taken over by the PBGC.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 17, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Recent items in Wisconsin media report that Gov. Walker himself caused the Wisconsin budget shortfall through special interest legislation he passed at the beginning of the year:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/editorial/article_61064e9a-27b0-5f28-b6d1-a57c8b2aaaf6.html

Prior to this, the Wisconsin budget was balanced and in fact had a slight surplus according to the state's fiscal bureau:

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf

Did Walker create this false crisis as an excuse to attack public employee unions?

Posted by: timbowen1960 | February 17, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The shrinking of union membership in the country to the point that union member has become almost synonymous with public employee has not been a useful development for the unions.

I go back to a point I made on another thread: Public employee unions will have a hard time convincing tax payers to provide public employees with better benefits than the tax payers themselves now receive, especially if it requires tax increases to fund the benefits.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 17, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes. the sniveling continues apace. It is just too funny to watch.

the voters figured out where their money was going and they responded. I thought the American left was all about democracy? If the voters elected people knowing that they would take a scalpel, or a hatchet, to the state budget, who are the liberals to say no? This is the will of the people folks.

What was it that Nancy Pelosi said? Oh yeah "Elections have consequences". And it was Obama who said "I won".Guess what they both lost, big time and at every level of gummint.

Now the unions, after spending millions on the campaigns of doomed Democrats are facing the facts of life. The gravy train has left the station. Their years of bleeding tax payers dry are just about over. Americans are facing fiscal reality. And the unions are, finally, going to have to live the same reality as the rest of the country.

This is just sooo much fun.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 17, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Unlike the private sector, where workers are negotiating with management that has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value, public employee unions are often "negotiating" with Democratic politicians who (a) are already on the side of the unions, and (b) were put there by union money. Is anyone advocating on behalf of the taxpayer? I would argue in most cases, no. Therefore, I would treat dealing with public employee unions as a special case, and believe that their collective bargaining rights should be limited in some way.

If people are going to complain about corporate dollars electing politicians who write the regulatory rules, then they should be troubled by the two wolves (the public employees union and the politicians they elected) negotiating with the sheep (the taxpayer) over what's for dinner.

Posted by: sold2u | February 17, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I support organized labor and collective bargaining, the 40 hour work week and even, the weekend. I do know public employee unions have problems, I don't think there is any question about the nature of those problems. There is only the question of what to do about them and denial empowers the Republican position.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Union workers built this country and are responsible for our decent wages over the years.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

my goodness, this is well said.
=============
If people are going to complain about corporate dollars electing politicians who write the regulatory rules, then they should be troubled by the two wolves (the public employees union and the politicians they elected) negotiating with the sheep (the taxpayer) over what's for dinner.

=======================

I'd like to point out that no state has yet decided to eliminate public service unions altogether. But that may be the next step.

Also, Mr Sargent's biggest concern is the chance that states may change the laws so that union membership isnt' mandatory. yet if we look at the migration pattern of people and jobs in america we see the right to work states gaining and the others losing. Pretty simple, isn't it?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 17, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Descendants of slaves say they built this country. That has nothing to do with the role of today's AFSCME local.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Good luck governor Walker . . we need this law in California before the school system sinks our state.

Posted by: sarno | February 17, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

A Race To The Bottom, and the Oligarchs win for now, but once they have accomplished their goal of having a work force that does not receive a living wage, then there will be very few who will have any disposable incomes to purchase their imported products, just their never was in the old slave states.

Without workers spending money, their is no economic percolation, and America will become more like France, before the Revolution, than the America of the 20th century.

F... all rich people. They are mostly parasites, who will steal from the mouths' of the poor, just to cater to their insatiable lust for more and more wealth.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Collective bargaining is just the free market at work.

See, I told you Republicans hated the free market. They want to write laws to prevent it from working.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"Union workers... are responsible for our decent wages over the years."

The Walker proposal would not strip the unions of their rights to collectively bargain wages.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 17, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

sbj3, I was addressing the right (Malkin, Rush, etc) attacking the teachers as some kinds of thug caricatures.

I just don't get it. They try to reduce them into villains to mobilize the right wing against them.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If State workers benefits were not so far superior to that of the average employee, then this would be a much stronger case. virtually free health care, raises every year, cost of living raises (which no private employees get). People are sick of the sweetheart benefits these employees get, and while these cuts are extreme, its the result of years of fleecing the system.

Posted by: Natstural | February 17, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Union workers... are responsible for our decent wages over the years."

The Walker proposal would not strip the unions of their rights to collectively bargain wages.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 17, 2011 4:46 PM |

Yes it would you lying sack of manure. The law sets a firm, and very repressive cap on any increase that can be negotiated, and would do away entirely with multi-year contracts.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Even someone supportive of the unions like Greg fails to mention that the pensions, for example, in Wisconsin are relatively small (24.5K/yr) and in most states they are a problem because governors failed to make contributions to pension funds as away to deal with deficits. In other words, they failed to meet their obligations to workers and then decided to make the workers into scapegoats. Moreover, the laws would affect not just state workers but all public workers and would have the net effect of probably harming other collective bargaining rights in the private sector and driving down private sector wages. I don't see an effort to shrink state govt at the top. I see the same nonsense that we see in the corporate sector and the people being affected are far from rich and often make less than their private sector counterparts.

Posted by: thebuckguy | February 17, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I thought Unions were supposed to exist to protect workers from exploitation?

So why are unions so strong in Government? Because the Government is so exploitative!

So if the Gov't is so exploitative, why are the unions forcing more Gov't upon the rest of us?

Posted by: pgr88 | February 17, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"Collective bargaining is just the free market at work."

Exactly. No one is forcing anyone to hire anyone. I don't get where Conservatives think that a bank CEO has earned his money, but a union member hasn't.

If Wisconsin needs money, they can raise taxes.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 17, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

pgr88, is there any reason why you chose the numbers 88 in your name?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@Mike: It was not only you but several others here hyperventilating about wages. But I can appreciate what you say - for the most part teachers aren't thugs.

OTOH, I live in California. The teachers unions are a big part of the budget problem here. They are intractable and inflexible.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 17, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Fascists don't like the people organizing and having power. That lessons their influence. Crush any organized opposition.

That's their goal.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 17, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

All, I just reached one of the missing Democrats:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/missing_wisconsin_dem_speaks_w_1.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 17, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

There was no "middle class" before labor unions. Period.

If unions truly represent 7 percent of the workforce in the private sector, shouldn't there be plenty of private sector jobs being created? If I'm missing something I'm open to being educated. But, I must warn you, I'm a pretty bright guy so BS answers won't fly.

Posted by: nsu1203 | February 17, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

If this were about economics instead of politics, the police and firemen's unions would not be exempt.

Posted by: BuddyK | February 17, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The democrats skipped town with their tails between their legs. Amazing..

Posted by: wewintheylose1 | February 17, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

And you call those greedy Teachers’s Union honest? They refuse to attend schools, lied about being sick, and are shown in front of cameras standing at the capitol. If our childrends miss school deliberately, the parents get ticketed and are then summed with their child to court. They should be stripped out of their jobs. And students should boycott the schools until every one of those Union Teachers be terminated and replaced by non-union. While they teach our sons and daughters, these liberals expect the private sector citizens to survive with less and make the sacrifice to fix the budget while they unionize their fat coffin with more and more pork-money. Money does not grow on threes… Union is the Cancer of this Nation…

Posted by: jzak100 | February 17, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Official count so far today at the Capitol Square.
20,000 outside
5,000 inside state capitol

Mainly peaceful protests, but the Republicans in Wisconsin are not going to be able to come back after this.

Many "Tea Partiers" voted for Walker and now are admitting they made a huge mistake.

The crowd this morning was a huge cross section of Wisconsin. University profs, students, the UW Dept. of Geography, Buck Badger (the state mascot), firemen, "Cops for Labor" teachers and students. Biggest chants were "Kill this bill" and "This what democracy looks like".

People have been glued to Wisconsin Eye and have been watching the Republicans insist all week that they need to balance the budget. No reasonable explanation has been given for the move to severely limit collective bargaining.

Looks like Wisconsin Tea Party is waking up to what Walker is really doing.

Another popular chant: "What's disgusting? Union busting!"


Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The only way for the gop to win future elections is to spread propoganda among the old white people--the mid term voters--so they will vote in people promising to get rid of those people with better pension plans than them. It gets the heat off the legislatures who have spent all the state pension monies and puts the blame on the victims of that theft--the union workers.

This will happen throughout the country. --Pitting americans against eachother instead of against the politicians who stole from them.

It's genius really.

Posted by: tafffy | February 17, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't live in Wisconsin, but what about the fact that contracts were signed to define the terms of the arrangement.

Only slime-balls would sign a contract and then modify it to their benefit later.

What about the honor of the state?

Do contracts mean nothing now?

Who decides when they mean nothing.

One side of the contract can arbitrarily change it after the fact?

Not in my world.

Posted by: RichRable | February 17, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

America has a big problem with AFSCME and SEIU, but the problem, which isn't about money, not really, can not be fixed by outlawing them, they have to be made obsolete.

-----------------------------------------

This is the best point I've seen in a long while. Get rid of the reason unions exist and they go away without outlawing them.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 17, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, the rest of the country may be against unions, but in Wisonsin, the people are turning out in record numbers ( I guess 25,000 is a record) because they feel that the budget is being "fixed" on the backs of the middle class workers. The governor is seen as dishonest at this point and many are calling for a recall. (Although it is too early to do that yet...he needs to be in office for a year first)

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

It's the end of the Gravy Train!

Posted by: underthesea2 | February 17, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Wisconsin Democratic legislators FOUND at Best Western Clock Tower Resort, 7801 East State Street, Rockford, Illinois. (815) 398-6000. Ask for Chris Larson.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 17, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

@taffy
By the way at the Wisconsin Capitol the crowd is/was 85% white and at least 35% old people.

I saw several tea party type signs "Don't tread on me" and they weren't pro-Republican.

Other signs called for Feingold for Governor. The Republicans have awoken a sleeping giant and they really missed the boat on this one. At least that was my impression.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The only way to get rid of public employee unions is to restrict the government from deducting union dues from public employee paychecks. If one wants to be a member of a public employee union then one should send a check every month to the local on their own.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: drowningpuppies | February 17, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

the people are turning out in record numbers ( I guess 25,000 is a record) because they feel that the budget is being "fixed" on the backs of the middle class workers.
-----------------------------------------

The new governor here in Michigan, Rick Snyder, is getting similar criticisms here as he announced his budget today particularly regarding his cuts to education.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 17, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Everybody can whine and cry all day.
Im sorry, but what do you do when you dont have money. YOU DONT SPEND! This rule should apply to unions like it does in my own private life. Us in the private sector cannot bear the burden anymore paying for the pensions and other costs. If you dont get it, I am sorry. I have had my family in unions my whole life. I support what there original purpose was.
But you people just dont get it. This is something that has to change. Math and numbers never lie! We cant afford the unions special interests anymore. There are huge defecits and that is the union leaders fault for being greedy and not thinking about the hard working private sector that has to pay for it

Posted by: westcoastmotorcompany | February 17, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

For decades the left has used class warfare and very effectively. When union workers wages have benefits added in, they are doing quite a bit better than the private sector oftentimes not having spent the years and money on college degrees that the private sector has. Start showing these salaries with the benefits WAPO as it's time this class warfare table is turned. Not too long ago I read that the average salary for the American car union factory worker was $123,000 with benefits averaged in and people wonder what happened to Detroit. It's time for the Right to use this time tested strategy of the left.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Good for the employees in Wisc. THe middle class won't stand for doling out billions to the upper 1% via tax breaks while screwing the middle class over. I hope the public employees bring lawsuit after lawsuit.

Posted by: ExConservative | February 17, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

We can't afford the greedy Oligarchs that have captured almost all of the wealth of the nation, and just sat on it, after Bush brought about a Great Economic Crash.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse


We need a law on both the federal and state levels that mandates that public employee wages and benefits not exceed those of comparable workers in the private sector. Public employees in most jurisdictions already have civil service protections against firing for political or other improper reasons. Public sector jobs are generally higher paying than their private sector counterparts in addition to being much more secure.

Posted by: edzed | February 17, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

When the USA riots begin in earnest, it will be the public sector " civil servants " and their national leaders in the front row of the brigades of screamers. COUNT ON IT.

FDR was right about never permitting public sector workers to organize. Now these groups are guided missles pointed right at the private taxpayer.

CA unions will soon make the WI mess look like a scrimmage warm up.

Posted by: bandcyuk | February 17, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

So in other words you want to run a Right Wing Nanny State that dictates what Teachers can have. Good to know that you Tea Bag Nuts are just a bunch of hypocrites, who really want to control everything in a fascist manner.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 17, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

@Exconservative
Thanks. But actually Wisconsin is in trouble because the Republicans have total control.

Although if a few of the Republicans don't come through with a "no" vote on this they will probably be voted out of office, maybe even recalled.

The thing is, there are 98,000 teachers in the state, but a lot of people are married to them. There are also just as many state employees and they are also married or have families.

The bill was supposed to solve the budget crisis.

Nothing was said about outlawing worker rights until last Thursday or Friday.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Massive riots by public employees around the nation. This is so great. The GOP has really misplayed their hand here. What part of CREATE JOBS do they not understand?

Posted by: ExConservative | February 17, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Public employee unions are a corrupt cancer on our society.

Posted by: carlbatey | February 17, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

@skipsailing
Most signs were anti Walker, but not extreme.
It doesn't matter how CNN tries to paint this, I saw their interview suggesting that the Democrats were "not doing their job" in Wisconsin.

There is a new awakening of the middle class, Tea Partiers have joined Democrats in Wisconsin and nobody is going to be able to put the cap back on the bottle.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Just who are these rich the left keeps wailing on? As I wrote, the big American auto workers averaged $123,000 while the average salary of a GP physician is $150,000-look it up. And that's $150,000 after 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, several years at slave wages in a residency. And then the doctor has to pay off a good quarter of a million in school loans, set up and build a business at his expense, be on call 24/7 and pay for his retirement and all benefits out of pocket. And we wonder why, under Obamacare, doctors are quitting and far less of the best and brightest are applying to med school. There won't be any need for rationing as lack of qualified doctors will take care of that. And now the teachers who have summers off, more vacation time than any profession I can think of and excellent benefits are whining because they may actually have to pay a small percentage into their retirements and healthcare costs? Well, just cry me a river.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

This Wisconsin thing is a uniting of generations, races of people, political parties against the governor's plan to destroy the middle class rights.

We may not win this battle, but as we chanted today,"The people,united,cannot be defeated."

That was the chant after we sung the National Anthem, ok. Real America. Black, white, brown, young, old, white collar and blue collar shoulder to shoulder.

25,000 strong

On Wisconsin!

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Q. Why does the GOP hate teachers? Why do they hate education do much?

A. They depend on their ignorant dimwitted base to keep their wealth.

Posted by: ExConservative | February 17, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

To repeat, WISCONSIN'S PENSION PLAN IS FULLY FUNDED.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 17, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

This term "the workers" makes it seem like those of us in the private sector don't work...wrong. Also, this term "the workers" has it's roots in Communism.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

You have a job you get:

Paid vacation
Sick leave
Decent pay
Overtime
Generally protection from hazards
Comp time
5 day work week
Regular pay check
Health care
Child labor laws
Tools you need to perform the job
Travel reimbursement
Time off for a sick spouse
No liability for others theft on your shift
Lunch break
Dinner break
Break sometime during the day
Coverage for injuries on the job
Holidays such as Christmas...

And much, much more...

All of this even if you are not a union worker and just have a job.

Now having said this, do you know who or what you owe all of this to?

Let me help you the many stupid masses.

UNIONS

That is right unions.

If it were not of unions the American worker would be in extremely bad shape.

I think it is time all of you union bashing ignorant morons start to rethink your priorities.

Wake up idiots!

Next it will be your ”perks” on the chopping block. You know, no paid vacations, no health cares, more hours less pay, no sick leave., no breaks...

Get where I am going.

YOU OWE EVERYTHING, YES EVERYTHING TO UNIONS EVEN IF YOU DO NOT BELONG TO ONE.

IT IS THAT SIMPLE!

Posted by: cario1 | February 17, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Many people here are missing the point. The argument I'm hearing goes, the public sector employees (who happen to mostly be unionized) should not get any more benefits than the private sector workers get. But this is wrong. The argument should be, we need to increase the benefits of the private sector to what the public sector enjoys. Raise everyone's standard of living! Everyone should have more health care, better benefits, better pensions, etc. It's a classic "us against them" mentality that the Republicans like to use to divide people and foster distrust of the "other." Time was, we were in it together, but the GOP has played on people's fears that everyone is getting by on my dime. Well, the truth is, that yes, everyone is getting by on everyone's dime. We are all in it together. That's why unions strengthen our workers from the corporations, and even governments, that would seek to lower all our standards of living. People in WI and elsewhere will have to reap what they have sown before they appreciate how much good they have undone.
But know this, fear mongers, this nation is changing drastically, and whether you like it or not, the stuffy old boy network that you seek to perpetuate out of fear is dying, and there is really nothing you can do about it. Our nation is becoming more diverse, and the Republicans see their core constituencies dwindling. What do you suppose the tea party movement is all about? Fear...

Posted by: dug2008 | February 17, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@thebink
"The workers" means public and private sector workers in Wisconsin. Many parents and small business owners were at the rallies. I don't know much about communism, what I saw was Americans standing up for their jobs and for their fellow citizens.

Most people do not want the collective bargaining elimination attached to the bill.

The Republicans are trying to create a public sector vs. private sector spin on this. A company has been playing commercials saying that it is time the public sector "do their fair share". Few people are buying it.

This bill is going to slash at quality of life issues in Wisconsin. The University tuition could go up 26%.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

thebink - You are a moron. Keep watching Fox.
When your job reverts to servitude and you are no longer a worker and you get no holidays paid, and you get no portion of your health care paid and there is no profit sharing or 401K matches and you have to pay for the desk you work at and your wife is sick or your children are sick and you can't get time off without losing your job....

You and those like you will be the fist in line, tears pouring from your eyes crying for justice.

But guess what? It will be far to late because you spent too much time with Glenn.

Glenn will not be there to help you. He will be laughing at all the suckers he duped and counting his cash.

Drink that tea sucker

Posted by: cario1 | February 17, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Union workers... are responsible for our decent wages over the years."

The Walker proposal would not strip the unions of their rights to collectively bargain wages.

==

Yes it would, but in a sneaky way. Negotiated wage increases could not exceed the rate of inflation unless approved by a public referendum. In addition, a new vote would be required very year to maintain a union. The latter is blatant discriminatory union-busting. Walker sure doesn't want any annual votes on his tenure as Governor.

Posted by: twm1 | February 17, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Oligarchs? What are you talking about?

Oligarchs aren't paying the public unions. Its you and me -- the taxpayers. I can understand the unions looking to stop abusive Scrooges. But that is not what is happening here. These people are using their monopoly bargaining power to take money from us. Our compliant politicians have only been too willing to give away our money. If we have the votes to make this "taking" illegal, let's do it.

Posted by: scott3 | February 17, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Scott, you know any union workers who aren't taxpayers?

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 17, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I know a lot more taxpayers who aren't union.

Posted by: scott3 | February 17, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

The new Wisconsin governor claims this is all necessary due to Wisconsin's huge budget deficit. Well, until he took office, Wisconsin was actually projected to have a huge budget surplus for the year. Walker's been handing out cash to corporate special interests so fast that there's now a huge budget deficit in the state.

Walker is the problem, not a part of the solution. I read somewhere that Wisconsin voters can't recall him til he's been in office for a year. If so, they are stuck with him.

Posted by: chi-town | February 17, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

People here do realize that this only applies to PUBLIC unions, and not private sector right?

The bill will make State employees and teachers pay 5% into their retirement. And about 12% into their health care. Most of us pay at least that much if not more. Where is the problem?

And where are the stories decrying the comparison of the Governor to Hitler?

Where are the stories about the protestors saying "Kill the Bill" and talk of mass riots, or the crosshairs on the Governors face? You would think so close to the Gifford shooting, using such violent rhetoric would be verboten. I guess it only applies when a republican says it?

Posted by: Bailers | February 17, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Without unions, we'd still have child labor.
Big business can never defeat China and India in a wage war (do the math), so whty pretend all the gutting of the middle class and unions will 'make us competitive again'.

What would 'make us competitive again' is if businesses didn't look at quarterly reports like the holy grail, and actually took a long term look at what could be accomplished long term with investment and planning.

Nah, that's too hard, as a CEO, I'm only here for the 3 year ride till I pull my golden parachute. Screw those left behind when I leave.

Posted by: blackmask | February 17, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

blackmask,

There is no big business here. There is no CEO. This is the state government of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has elected representatives and earns its revenues from its taxpayers. By overcharging the state government of Wisconsin these unions cost the people of Wisconsin more money -- money they will have to pay sooner or later. Why are you better than them?

Posted by: scott3 | February 17, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry Georgia, I beg to differ. the term "the workers" is a term the democrats use to identify union workers as they sure as heck aren't referring to the private sector. The unions have historically voted democrat and so of course the democrats have used this to their advantage. My husband and I are business owners so a strong economy across the board is to our advantage including union, government private sector etc. workers who are all our customers. The problem is that our state and federal governments have simply run out of funds and are scrabbling to find them and I believe they're not above screwing each and every one of us, union or not. I do believe that this union verses private sector will explode over the next year or so and I think it may get pretty ugly as per Greece. The private sector will not be willing to bail out union workers at their own expense with their tax dollars and I assume that that unions will protest, hopefully not violently. Add on what I believe is coming inflation and I fear that each and every one of us is in for a rough ride. I don't know what the answer is but "compromise is looking mighty shakey at this point.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse


Whatever mechanism we use, the budgets have to be cut. Spread the sacrifice around. Possibly raise some taxes. We need to put an end to the borrowing.

Ask the union members if they have a better plan for making the cuts.

Posted by: hipshot | February 17, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

People, and that includes you cario1, our government both Republican and Democrat, have royally screwed us. They have made promises they can't keep in order to stay in power and continue to get their outrageous salaries, benefits and multiple perks. They are out of funds and fairly frantic because of it. It remains to be seen just what they are capable of, again both Republicans and Democrats, to get themselves out of the mess they have put themselves into.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

@Bailers
You may have been reading extremist propaganda on the internet, however, I can't believe you would say those things if you had been at the rally.

As I said out of the 18,000 signs, maybe there were 5 that were in extremely bad taste. And there were 2 pro "Budget Reform Bill".

You don't get it. Wisconsin believes in human rights, civil rights. That's all. We want collective bargaining.

@thebink
The union members are saying that they would agree to the paycuts and paying more for benefits. They have already taken cuts.

Again, Walker did not run on a "union busting" ticket. At least not openly.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess I could understand this argument from union folk...

"Yes, I (the Union) have my hand in the taxpayer's pocket and am taking ALL that I can. At the same time, so are tons of other groups in this country. When you stop all the other gravy trains then you can stop mine! So, until I start hearing about bankers bonuses going down, or how Goldman Sachs is no longer making record profits now that the government has eliminated all its competitors, or how countless corporations are getting subsidies, you can just forget messing with my union."

I guess I'm just saying I don't want to hear all the ridiculous talk from you, the bankers, Goldman Sachs, and the pork-hungry corporations. You're all the same to me.

Posted by: scott3 | February 17, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The big deal here is that employees here do a good job. They want to be able to have input on solutions. They want collective bargaining so they can work on solutions.

It's not the money, it is the cuts to Medicaid, the raising of tuition, but most of all the collective bargaining that is at issue.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Also cario1, my husband and I have had no paid holidays, no paid vacations, no paid or shared health insurance, no matched retirement funds for over 35 years. I'd say we're used to it but shudder to think what will happen if the rest of the population is confronted with it. Keep an eye on precious metal prices folks because no matter what NBC or Fox tells you. that's the true barometer of just what the world thinks of our almighty dollar.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

If State workers benefits were not so far superior to that of the average employee, then this would be a much stronger casePosted by: Natstural | February 17, 2011 4:49 PM


----


Compensation for Wisconsin workers in the public sector is more than 8% less than for comparable jobs in the private sector.

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/6759/

Posted by: twm1 | February 17, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Look, the people that have union contracts that have spent 20 plus years have a right to believe that they are entitled to what their contracts say. The private sector that went to college, paid their dues have a right expect not to go bankrupt. Bottom line, we have been screwed.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are cowards - while in the majority they stuff their bills through without concern of the Republicans and the American people. Now that GOP won the election, and the Dems run and hide like children, because they can't get their way. This is unbelievably infantile and non-democratic. The Dems are threatening Democracy within the US.....and the Post and the loony-left support them.

It is good that Governor Walker sent the state troopers to bring these Dems back, and if they refuse to return, their seats should be taken as they REFUSE to do their jobs.

In the end, they still lose, and Wlker gets what he wants, but the Dems have shown America what they are - socialist idealogues.

Posted by: Realist201 | February 17, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

It was not a coincidence that the first target of the Nazis after they invoked the Weimar Constitution Emergency clauses was the unions. Unions are the only counterbalance to overwhelming corporate power. Forget the "free market"; the only use to which free market fundamentalists put political power, when they have it, is to rig the market in their favor.

Sure, unions have problems. So does the Catholic Church and the Senate. But the answer is not to destroy the institution but to fix it.

However, an uneducated electorate, unable to follow a nuanced argument, read a pamphlet critically, spot a contradiction, or feel the responsibility of citizenship is much preferred by the oligarchs and kleptocrats, so destroying public education by pauperizing teachers is a logical step.

Posted by: jprfrog | February 17, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

scott3, speaking of goldman sachs, check out the manipulation of gold and silver that sachs and jp morgan has been involved in and the lawsuits that were leveled because of this just this past November. Every American citizen had better become as well informed ans possible and stop listening to either NBC or the like or Fox.

Posted by: thebink | February 17, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

thebink...

Gold and silver? Childs play. Goldman Sachs IS the Obama adminstration.

In fairness, why would it leave power just because Bush left?

Posted by: scott3 | February 17, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The union protesters were wearing red shirts today.....the same red shirts worn by Hugo Chavez and his supporters. It is clear now what the Democratic Party wants - they want a socialist state.

Posted by: Realist201 | February 17, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Its simple...The Republican Party is a tool of Big Business. They are simply following orders to eliminate the rights of workers in this country. It worked in the private sector over the past 30 years...and now is the time to attack public sector workers contractual rights by demonizing them and holding them responsible for all of the state's fiscal woes.

In the meantime, Big Business has exported millions of jobs oversees and receives tax credits to do it.

Workers in this country continue to vote against their own self interests, and people wonder why our standard of living keeps spiraling downward. Wake up people...the rich just continue to laugh at you.

Posted by: mcdy01 | February 17, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

WI has a long term obligation shortfall of 2.2 billion, with a current account cash flow shortfall of 60 to 140 million depending on the metrics used. The current account shortfall lies at the feet of their current elected officials. The Dems leaving the state so the GOP could not push through it's freedom taking agenda is just like the GOP using senate rules in congress to stop the Dems. What goes around comes around.

Posted by: jameschirico | February 17, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Hurrah for Gov Walker! As a WI resident I was apalled by the nbenefits and wages that the union folks had amassed over the years. Extremely high taxes, growing debt, extendsive welfare and continuing requirements to support non-0contributing members of society; that was the history of liberals in WI. Take care of those who need help and make the others work. I was tired of having to pay extremely hig taxes to support extravagant pensions, benefits, and chronic welfare folks. There is a reason that the people of WI solidly rejected Barrett and elected Walker. Thank you Gov Walker, press on and save the state.

Posted by: schmitt_fam | February 17, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

google channel 3000 in madison, wisconsin for mobile updates.

The most recent shows the Madison City firemen marching in support of the people.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 17, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Any claim by the Democrats tht they support the rule of law flew out the window today. They have adopted the same tactics as Hugo Chavez, employing union thugs and breaking the law to evade democracy......but it won't work and the labor unions socialist tactics will resound around the country giving many more states the push they need to enact legislation just like Wisconsin's. It is clear now the public workers unions are dangerous and only concerned about raping the tax payer.

Posted by: Realist201 | February 17, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

We all have the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government with out grievances.

The tyrannical Republicans are stealing freedom from teachers, firefighters and policemen.

Why? Just to give rich folks a big raise for not working any harder than they did last year.

Shameful

Posted by: colonelpanic | February 17, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I taught at a community college in Massachusetts for 30 years. I walked the streets for McGovern, I held Reagan in contempt, and I celebrated with neighbors when Obama was elected. I would love it if the U.S. could be more like a Nordic social democracy than a banana republic.

But giving public employees the right to hijack the union movement that millions of oppressed factory workers earned under FDR is a travesty. State workers everywhere earn higher than average wages, have much better benefits, and unquestionably greater job security than private sector workers in America. To survive in the public sector you need to master bureaucratic madness, ignore the pitfalls and pratfalls of political correctness, and the mindless whining of the 5 % of the public who think you work for them, not the public. If you can get past all that, your public sector union will take 5% of your pay and convert it into campaign contributions and “volunteer” phone banks and your mediocracy will be safe in 7 out of 10 elections. In 2 of 10 you might lose a little money and, heaven forbid, have to say goodbye to those talented dudes below you on the seniority list. But with luck, “we the people” will have 1 chance in 10 of deciding who actually runs the country. It is really so sad that this can only come about because Republicans did so well in the last election.

Not good odds for democracy.

Posted by: edmass | February 17, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

The stakes in Wisconsin
By Greg Sargent
It's worth stepping back and trying to appreciate how big the stakes have become in Wisconsin for public employees and for organized labor in general.

Yes indeed...for public employees and for Unions in general.

Private sector unions I can understand, because consumers have a choice to buy union products or not to buy union products such as buying a Union built GM car or buying a Non-Union built Japanese car.

But public sector unions I cannot understand, because consumers have no choice. But one could say that public sector unions without a doubt donate money to Democrats.

How can we compete with China which forbids any unions either public or private?

Now we have a President who said he has worked his whole life for the unions. And Obama said today that the teacher's union in Wisconsin was under assualt.


It appears that Obama and the unions do not care that Federal, State and city governments are broke.


Posted by: Chuck8764 | February 17, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The stakes in Wisconsin
By Greg Sargent
It's worth stepping back and trying to appreciate how big the stakes have become in Wisconsin for public employees and for organized labor in general.

Yes indeed...for public employees and for Unions in general.

Private sector unions I can understand, because consumers have a choice to buy union products or not to buy union products such as buying a Union built GM car or buying a Non-Union built Japanese car.

But public sector unions I cannot understand, because consumers have no choice. But one could say that public sector unions without a doubt donate money to Democrats.

How can we compete with China which forbids any unions either public or private?

Now we have a President who said he has worked his whole life for the unions. And Obama said today that the teacher's union in Wisconsin was under assualt.


It appears that Obama and the unions do not care that Federal, State and city governments are broke.


Posted by: Chuck8764 | February 17, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Read your history, of what it was like in America, before the Unions were formed.

==

Seconded. Full-time workers unable to afford to heat their homes and barely able to eat. Fourteen hour work days, coming to work sick, dangerous workplaces that left workers maimed.

There are good reasons for unions, and it's true that labor organization begat the middle class.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

What is it that many many american ppl. don't understand. The states are broke. Wisconsin is broke. Our greed has brought every american to it's knee's. There was/is no way the union pay increases over decades could be sustained. If strong measures are not taken to correct the payouts to union workers.everyone will hurt through skyhigh taxes. Why should the private sector who is not payed as well as union pay out more taxes so union workers can live better.But i see a bigger problem here..the utter chaos in every sector of our country . Obama has so overwhelmed our infrastructure. We as a country will fall. We have been busy worrying about our paycheck and being unable to buy that new RV we don't even notice we are in the process of collasping. Meaning 'everything' will be stripped from us. greed will do it everytime.

Posted by: anna231 | February 18, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company