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Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 02/21/2011

For Wisconsin unions, a telling concession

By Charles Lane

Wisconsin public-sector union leaders have offered Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-majority state legislature a deal. The unions will accept all of the fiscal aspects of Walker's bill: Henceforth members will pay 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pensions and 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums, up substantially in both areas. All they ask in return is that Walker and the legislature not gut their collective bargaining rights. Sounds statesmanlike, right?

I have my doubts. Certainly, this offer undercuts the unions' claim that there is no budget crisis in Wisconsin, and that Walker manufactured one as a pretext for union-busting. If there's no budget crisis, on what possible basis can union leaders instruct their members to give up an estimated $330 million worth of hard-earned, contractually guaranteed benefits over the next couple of years? Are they saying that the rank and file is better off giving up their money now, even though it isn't necessary to fix the state's budget, as long as they still have the chance to get the money back at the bargaining table later, maybe?

If that's the way these guys negotiate, I really wouldn't want to be a public-sector union member in Wisconsin. If they had the interests of their membership at heart, they would give in on bargaining rights, which can always be restored under a friendlier government later -- but keep maximum cash in their members' pockets here and now.

Looks to me as if Wisconsin's union leaders have revealed their preference for political power. They want to preserve collective bargaining at all costs, because without it they will lose the flow of dues money. And without dues money, the unions have no political war chests, and without political war chests, they are no longer power brokers in state and local elections.

This anonymous comment from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's excellent Web site makes the point far better than I ever could:

Go back to work, teachers. Your union has already sold you down the river. They have agreed to the givebacks that affect YOUR paychecks, while using you to fight against the parts that will affect THEIRS. Did you get to vote before they gave away your benefits? What patsies you all are.

By Charles Lane  | February 21, 2011; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Next: The Tea Party and me

Comments

The Koch brothers bought and paid for Walker with huge campaign contributions. Walker and his supporters are willing dupes of the right wing extremists. This is a summary of what the Tea Party is all about - the ignorant being tools of the wealthy.

Posted by: jeffl240 | February 21, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

On Presidents Day, let a President (a Republican one at that!) chime in:

"All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn
between these two. If any man tells you he loves America, yet he hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool"

According to Honest Abe there is a pack of liars, fools and traitors in the Wisconsin/Ohio legislature and gov's office.

Posted by: Spiritof761 | February 21, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Huh? The union's offer demonstrates that this isn't about the budget at all.

What exactly is so hard to understand about that??

Posted by: bugmenot | February 21, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

You are an insane disturbed person, Mr. Lane.

Get help.

Posted by: tjtucker | February 21, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The wi senate needs 20 for spending bills but only 17 for anything else. This being the case, the repubpicans should simply convene the senate and start shoving through all sorts of social legislation designed to Annoy certain democratic constituencies. Hopefully, this would make them coke back and do their duty. If not, it will at least sow dissent in their ranks as various other interests are sacrificed for the union.

Posted by: andrew23boyle | February 21, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

This article is not as direct as it should be. The union in Wisconsin is protecting itself. It has already stated that it is willing to give up all of the financial demands that it had previously asked for on behalf of its members. If the union wins now, it will continue to control the debate, government, and its members. It will have ultimate control. It is placing in peril all of its members and their livelihoods to accomplish the goals of the union elite. I feel sorry for Wisconsinites who just want a balanced budget.

Posted by: Slackjawed_Prometheus | February 21, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

My Wife is a school teacher. Having said that, the unions have ruined our schools in this country. PLEASE watch the movie WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. Until we can get rid of the BAD teachers our schools cannot get better.

Posted by: rabbott1 | February 21, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, if an anonymous poster on the Journal Sentinel website can make the point far better than you ever could, why should the Washington Post continue to keep you on the payroll? But I think we both know that's not really the case.

Rather, Mr. Lane would prefer to include such incendiary remarks in his column without having the take the credit (or blame) for them. If that's your opinion, please just state it, Mr. Lane.

Posted by: jsdietsche | February 21, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

This "writer" implies that the unions argument about there being NO fiscal crisis is not valid because of their latest proposal.
The Washington Post should hire writers that don't use such tactics to make their bias points.

The fact is that when Walker took the Governors office, Wisconsin had a budget surplus! They passed a $140 million tax give away to special interest groups who gave to Walkers campaign. As Capitol Times of Madison wrote:

"In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.
To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.

But this is all the conclusion of the "2 Santa Clauses" Republican plan.
Instead of "starve the beast" They play santa and spend like wild men when they are in power. Then when collapses happen like in 2008, yell and scream about the deficit and blame any tax increases on Democrats and claim there's no money for social programs.

Besides, there are no jobs because of bad trade policies, housing is in the tank, and there are no "bubbles" right now to pump up" the economy.
THAT is the real reason we are in so much trouble, stop blaming the middle class union membership PLEASE!
And no, I am not in a union or know someone that is.

Posted by: sonofmohg | February 21, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Just to keep the facts straight, there is a $3.6 billion gap that they need to make up. And no, governor Walker is not responsible for the worldwide recession.

Posted by: Slackjawed_Prometheus | February 21, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Public unions have gotten away with dragging the this country down for to long. Hold firm Walker and teach these spoiled brats they are no better than the rest of us.

Posted by: farmsnorton | February 21, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Spiritof761- We have no argument with labor, heck we labor ourselves as well. We have a problem with BIG BUISINESS UNIONS. So sad to see someone complain that that they have been called "Un-American", but quick to label others such. How is a big union not a big corporation? This whole thing proves it. The union bosses have no interest in its members, only "profit" for them. Unions are as outdated as slavery and as crooked as the rest. Both create a mass of people at the bottom who support it, but get no say, only the bill. Voluntary submission!

When the Republicans said "NO", Democrats were up in arms claiming Republicans were childish and uncompromising. So what is this? Grown up attitudes? LOl Yea... They showed the Republicans how "childish" is done.

bugmenot- Awesome idea. They should start TODAY!
Every “tea party” bashing is a feather in their cap. They hit close to the mark if it gets liberals all riled up. Defensive? LOL…. Yep!

Posted by: thatavkguy | February 21, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

What the article didn't say: The union is trying to salvage what they can and Walker REFUSES to compromise at all.
Walker and the GOP are in a war against the unions -- and it's a war against the working people of America.
The working people -- middle class and poor -- had better wake up and realize there is the GOP (greediest of politicians) and the Tea Party are NOT your friends.

Posted by: abbydelabbey | February 21, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Lane is right on.

Posted by: farmsnorton | February 21, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Happy Presidents' Day:
Conservative Icon, President Ronald Reagan, On The Fundamental Right of People To Have An Independent Trade Union (From A Late 1981 Speech To The American People condemning the Communist crackdown in Poland, and in Support of The Solidarity Trade Union):

“…The Polish Government has trampled under foot solemn commitments to the UN Charter and The Helsinki Accords. It has even broken the Gdansk Agreement of August 1980 by which the Polish Government recognized the basic right of its people to form free trade unions, and to strike....”

Source: (Audio File): http://www.history.com/audio/reagan-voices-support-for-polands-solidarity-movement#reagan-voices-support-for-polands-solidarity-movement

So my question is if workers had “…the basic right ...to form free trade unions, and to strike…” within Communist Poland against abuses, why do they not have the same right in Wisconsin, or the rest of the U.S.A., in order to oppose different mistreatments, real or potential?

Posted by: Rob301 | February 21, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

This is republicans step one too bring american companies back from china, kill off the unions, take labor back to the early 1900,s, 12 hour a day seven days a week,and NO SAY SO on any matter. how nice for the leaders of this movement that the worker will not think for themselfs, so folks go for it you are entitled to $3 an hour as a factory worker.

Posted by: dv1236 | February 21, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

rabbott1....you do realize that in the rules that make it harder to fire bad teachers also protect your wife from being fired at the whim of a school board member or a pissed off well connected parent or some group that does not want evolution taught in school. Right?

And people we have all had co-workers who everyone thought needed to be fired, but they always seem to keep their jobs. That's life.

On the subject of the "anonymous comment" that Lane says he agrees with I am reminded of Tokyo Rose's fake concern for the American troops during WW2.

Posted by: vintagejulie | February 21, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

jeffl240; all,

personal to "jeffl240": PLEASE give us some DOCUMENTED SOURCE(s) for your charges about the funding of the TEA PARTY movement
(fyi, wishful thinking, hate-FILLED personal opinions, KNOWING lies, errant nonsense, common gossip & DNC propaganda do NOT count as "documented sources".)
OR
simply admit to everyone here that your charges are BASELESS & STUPID.

to all: the more i learn about "progressives"/leftists/"DIMocRAT extremists"/"lame-stream journalists" on "PP", the better i like slugs, poisonous snakes, venomous spiders & scorpions.

MOST of what the "non-members" rant about, relative to the TEA PARTY movement, in just one word are correctly called: LIES.
(the vast majority of TEA PARTY "funds" are raised from our own membership in amounts of LESS than 100 dollars. - MANY of the donations are in amounts of 25 dollars or less. - in one case, i received a 2.00 roll of nickels & a "handful of dimes" from one of our older members. = Mrs M__________ said that it is "what i can afford." - furthermore, in the case of our county's Tea Party group, the yearly maximum from each individual/couple is 1,000 dollars, as we do NOT want anyone to think that "they own us" and/or that "we owe them favors".)

just my personal comments/opinions. = i DO NOT & CANNOT speak "officially" for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote of the membership on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 21, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

sonofmohg- we don’t blame the members (middle class), only the union bosses that don’t care about their members OR the public in general. Only keeping their corporation flooded with money that the vast majority goes to pay the higher ups bloated salaries and over expensive pension/healthcare. We are evening a playing field that is artificially tilted by a small public run segment. 30% or more of a states budget goes to the union health care. We pay 1/2 in the private sector and get less. They pay next to nothing and get far superior coverage. How is that fair? They also should be in a 401K like everyone else!

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/spotlight/spotl467.htm

Hmmm I don’t see "special-interest groups" here. I see tax incentives for small businesses to grow (jobs & more tax base) and incentive for big companies to move there (jobs and more tax base). Those ADD to the GDP (tax base), while the unions directly suck. Yep "special interest".. JOBS! By the way, Clinton was the one who began the deregulation of the housing market. EVERYONE was in on it, including Democrats!

Posted by: thatavkguy | February 21, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

This shows exactly what the tea parties knew: It's all about power. The DNC always paint the GOP as wealthy - but the fact is the wealthiest are DEMS. Actors? DEM, Atheletes? DEM. TV Anchors? DEM. Oprah? DEM. Wall street? DEM. Richest congress members? DEM again. Biggest Corporations? GE - DEM again. Union leaders? DEM, DEM, DEM. It's not about the people - it's about power. The union just sold the people out to hold onto power to control both the government and the people. Wake up America.

Posted by: debmries | February 21, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Lane for helping to right the Post's port list...hard to see why somedays it does not capsize. I love your argument...maybe E.J. Dionne and Harold Myerson will take a minute and actually read something that makes total sense.

Time to get rid of all unions, not just public sector ones. My new bumper sticker: "Union Free in '23"...maybe all union members will have died out by then :)

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | February 21, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

dv1236- YES YES! Jobs are less important that a comfy life style. Many would take just about anything available at ANY price. How do you think we should bring jobs back to America? Manufacturing is the backbone of any economy. Give me a break 12 hour days are not coming back (unless you want to get ahead in life). It will not be forced any time soon. We have labor laws here in the USA that keep that in check. Intel told Obama a few days ago it costs them a billion dollars more to build a plant in the US than in China, and labor is not even part of that estimate. Regulations and government red tape is the difference. It’s a no brainer for someone who wants to grow a company today. What do you propose everyone not in the service industry should do for work when all Mfg is gone? Become a layer? How many more of them do we need?

Posted by: thatavkguy | February 21, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

What a really lame Lane attempt to spin the facts and turn them on their heads.

The fact that the Unions agreed to the cuts - in return for the Gov to back off on busting the Uniuons - and the Gov and Republicans all REFUSED the offer is evidance not of the Unions "selling their members out" as you morons claim - it proves the Gov and Republicans are not concerned with the budget but with buasting up the Unions.

A recognition by all workers, Union and non of the needs for some belt tightening from all, and them stepping up to the table, once again to do their part to solve the crisis is a positive move to solve the impass.

Any lame Lane attempts to twist the truth of this offer into something else would be funny if it weren't so mean spitirted in it's attacks on working people.

Posted by: gooch733 | February 21, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining when he became gov. of Indiana 6 years ago. The State now has the lowest property taxes and lowest public worker per capita in the Nation. Wake up America.

Posted by: wxyz6200 | February 21, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Of course Charles Lane is 100% correct. Unions nowadays are all about getting money FROM their member, not TO their members. There are no "workers' rights" at stake in Wisconsin, nor will the middle class be destroyed by this legislation. Most citizens of the state, including the middle class, will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Posted by: bubba31138 | February 21, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros.
By Andy Kroll, motherjones.com -- Fri Feb. 18, 2011

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

Posted by: dahnb2005 | February 21, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I think a deal could be struck if Walker asked for that PLUS ending mandatory dues deduction from state worker paychecks. Just let state workers decide for themselves if they want to pay union dues or be a member of the union.

That, I think is one concession they can't refuse. Give them the right to bargain over benefits, but take away mandatory union memebership and automatic dues.

Posted by: tjk1 | February 21, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Certainly, this offer undercuts the unions' claim that there is no budget crisis in Wisconsin, and that Walker manufactured one as a pretext for union-busting. "

Uhh, how so? It's not as though the votes exist to turn back Gov. Walker's tax breaks. It's called "negotiation".

"If there's no budget crisis, on what possible basis can union leaders instruct their members to give up an estimated $330 million worth of hard-earned, contractually guaranteed benefits over the next couple of years? "

Uhh, protecting jobs today, and the future ability to bargain collectively once the fiscal 'crisis' is resolved, given today's political realities? As has been reported for days?

Very disingenuous, Mr. Lane, but I guess that's what I've come to expect from you.

Posted by: AnneNonnyMouse | February 21, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Charles Lane....another kid who drank the "union dues" kool-aid.

Get a grip Sonny Boy and learn the ropes. See a union (like the Union of States aka. United States) is a group of buddies that look out for one another. Soemtime you and Repugnants don't like because it gives us some independence. Gee whiz!

Posted by: anderson2 | February 21, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Wisconsin GOP Plans to Work Without Democrats!
What else is new? This is the issue that republicans don't understand. In America it is called Constitutional Due Process of Law, a little annoyance republicans won't let stand in the way of their dictatorship. It is not about the budget as we have learned, and it is not about money. It is about the ancient Sin, the LOVE of Money that the hidden supporters of republicans have been loosing a life long addiction to greed. They fund republican dupes to further their control and power over America. Americans may loose a battle or two but never the war. The republican are getting real close to stealing in broad daylight and don't care much who is looking. it is show time.

Posted by: dmscontractor | February 21, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, before you write a word, you should offer the disclaimer that you are a Republican apologist. That way you inject a tiny element of truth in what follows.

Walker's actions are as much about Wisconsin's deficit as the House Republican actions are about the federal deficit. Walker plunged Wisconsin deeper into debt with tax cuts for business (his main supporters); House Republicans plunged the country deeper in debt by insisting on maintaining the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. In both cases debt was increased.

Having shown they don't care about debt, Republicans at the State and Federal level now want to stick the middle class with the bill. And, if possible, bust up the opposition supporters along the way! All the while, the bankers who got us into this financial mess go unpunished.

This is what America has come to. Greed, whether financial or political, apparently knows no bounds. Stupidity reigns. America as a banana republic lies ahead.

Posted by: joachim1 | February 21, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The "budget crisis" comes from Gov. Walker's tax cuts to the wealthy. Cutting taxes without a plan to cut spending is how one creates a so-called "crisis."

The unions are being conciliatory in terms of the fiscal negotiations.

Gov. Walker's union-busting tactic is part of a long-term "divide-and-conquer" strategy to gut one of the few unions with a large membership that can serve as a counterweight to the corporate oligarchy in the US.

Robert Reich has an excellent summary of this on his web site:

"The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s Really at Stake"
http://robertreich.org/post/3422645385

It's sad to see a formerly respectable newspaper like the Washington Post turning into a joke.

Posted by: SteveCaldwell | February 21, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

This is a smokescreen for the bomb that will explode next week when the budget is dropped. The idea was "get this bill through now before everyone sees that it is irrelevant." To me, the Governor doesn't look very animated, quite stiff, and a little stuck in the mud. He's looking a little scary. That will all change when the s* hits the fan and employees are laid off in droves. That will not actually occur right away. All good things take time, but it will soon be obvious to everyone that we were never really talking about concessions to save one's jobs. That's why there can not be any compromise. What we are talking about is pure demogoguery, anti union busting, by the Republicans in this brief window of time, where they control the votes and it seems relevant. My prediction? The Governor's nose will soon be long enough for the Dems to walk home on from Chicago.

Posted by: rryder1 | February 21, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Unions are the pariah of this country. EVERY industry, and now the public sector, have been bled dry to the point, even sustenance is no longer possible. Airlines, textiles, and auto industries have each been brought to the verge of bankruptcy and then force to move overseas because of the thugs running unions.

Hey teachers if your unions are soooooooooooo great, why are your retirement programs the worst in the country? ANSWER, the kickbacks paid by fund managers to unions and the teacher association "leadership" that recommend them to you.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | February 21, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

And while we're on the topic of telling concessions, Mr. Lane, what do you make of Republican Senator Dale Schultz's compromise proposal: instead of losing their collective bargaining rights in perpetuity, state workers would only lose the right to negotiate for benefits through 2013.

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/21/AR2011022100452.html?hpid=topnews)

It's also being reported that Senate Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he will not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present.

(http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/02/21/general-us-wisconsin-budget-unions_8318634.html) (Sorry, I couldn't find a WaPo link.)

Sounds like there's some telling concessions being made, all right.

Of course, what you tried to paint as a 'telling concession' has been the union position all along, and was reported as such as early as Wednesday of last week.

Posted by: AnneNonnyMouse | February 21, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Had the governor been honest and told the voters during the campaign that if elected he would deprive public employees of their right to be represented by their union in matters affecting their pensions and medical care he would never have been elected. The man, the party and the special interest groups he works for are insurgents - they would replace our Constitutional Democracy with a neoconservative oligarchy.

Posted by: outridercastle | February 21, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Intel told Obama a few days ago it costs them a billion dollars more to build a plant in the US than in China, and labor is not even part of that estimate. Regulations and government red tape is the difference."

I read several articles regarding Obama's vist and found nothing to support your post. I did hear that Intel will be expanding their Arizona manufacturing facility and will spend about $6 billion upgrading existing factories in the U.S.


Regardless, I would counter by saying that some of us would rather not have the local water tables polluted by runoff from the manufacturing of computer chips. We may not want them to simply pump all of their poisons into the air either.

Those damn silly regulations you like to pee and moan about keep your air and water cleaner than you'll find anywhere in China. Just look at the crap in their products they ship over here and kill us and our pets with.

And God forbid we make them build a structure that can withstand a major storm or a minor earthquake. Imagine going to work without being worried about the place collapsing on you? You can't do that in most of China.

I'm convinced you Tea Party types just won't consider anything a success until you literally halt and begin to reverse the evolution of the species.

Posted by: steve-2304 | February 21, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

DMScontractor--
Are you kidding? No constitutional due process? The duly elected democratic senators have run away from the process. The republican senators are begging them to come back and participate in the process. The republican senators have not done anything outside the established rules of the senate. Just because you do not like the likely outcome does not mean anyone has been denied due process.

Posted by: jpfred | February 21, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"If they had the interests of their membership at heart, they would give in on bargaining rights, which can always be restored under a friendlier government later -- but keep maximum cash in their members' pockets here and now."
give in now,restore later?? whoa Nelly!

Posted by: jetopa | February 21, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane,

I am a small business owner who attended in support of workers rights and a government that is not autocratic, but works through the process democratically. What brought me out was Gov. Walker's refusal to negotiate and his threat to bring out the National Guard to "deal with protesters" - the marks of an autocratic government.

The non-partisan budget report from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that there is no reason why this issue had to be voted upon in 5 days without giving time for citizens - not just union members - from weighing in on the issues. You can get download pdf and read it... IF you actually want to to be a true journalist.

Unlike the portrayal in the media, the events were polite, so polite that the Madison Police issued a press release praising the protesters, aka citizens: "a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights. You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility, and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree. "

Please also report on the influx of cash from the Koch brothers and how it is manipulating civil (and not-so-civil) discourse.

Please report on the widening of the wealth gap that has left the US with a disparity not seen since 1914.

Please comment on the one in seven Americans now living at or below the poverty level.

Please report on the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 3% - while their paid-for legislative representatives ask the middle class to pay for the economic hardships THEY caused.

Please also note: To those who say Unions are communist, let me remind you that it was the Polish Solidarność Union that took down the autocratic Communist government of Poland.

Thank you, Mr. Lane.

Posted by: mochegal | February 21, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

What are the corporations and their CEO's willing to give up in order to cure Wisconsin's financial crisis?

Posted by: outridercastle | February 21, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

If the brave Gabrielle Giffords could speak normally, what would she say about this article? I hope she would agree with me: Charles Lane is either deliberately misunderstanding the facts or is an astounding failure of a journalist. Or, more likely, both.

Posted by: fakedude2 | February 21, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

.

Hey Democrats,

Paying 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pensions and 12.6 percent for HC. Say again? They are paying themselves. Try private industry where the employer gives you a nickel for every dollar you save and YOU pay 80% for HC

.

Posted by: kstobbe1 | February 21, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr Lane. Someone at the Washington Post that can see through fog and hit the real issue on the head.

You will be attacked, not because you are right or wrong, not because didn't defend your position, and not because you didn't get to the root cause of the issue. No you will be attacked because you did what Journalists used to do, bypass the spin, talking points, and hype and get to the root of the issue.

Thank you. Mike Royko would be proud.

Posted by: flyover22 | February 21, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

pcow

Like many Muslim countries U.S Wisconsin are facing violence from state workers and Democrats. U.S trying to create violence in Muslim country and automatically they drawn by it. It's real. I am agree with state protesters. They are fighting for own rights.

http://fms.nu/hmyOG4

Go to the link and see exclusive video footage.

Posted by: webcontent2011 | February 21, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

outridercastle; all,

to "outridercastle": how much are "the DIMocRAT extremists", "progressives" & "liberals" of WI willing to pay out of their own pockets to fix the horrid financial mess that the "leaders" of the Democrats party made of the state/local governments there, while kow-towing to the corrupt union leaders, the poverty pimps, the race-baiters, the "leftist special interests" & other WORTHLESS "causes"?

my guess is NOTHING as the "DIMocRAT leaders" would say that it "isn't our money" that they spent so freely. = it is actually THE PEOPLE'S MONEY that was wasted on NOTHING but enriching "the ruling class" & the SELF-important (left of center) ELITES.

to ALL: "the "rulers"/elites care NOTHING for "ordinary people like us". in fact, they wouldn't spit on us, if we caught fire.

and that, gentle readers, is WHY the TEA PARTY arose AND why we want all of "the rulers" GONE forever from positions of power/responsibility, at every level of government & at the next general election. = the SELF-appointed ELITES simply CANNOT be TRUSTED with our money, government and/or with our LIBERTY!

PLEASE, join your local TEA PARTY & help us fix THE MESS that the LEFTISTS/STATISTS/CROOKS have made!

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 21, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

When we were spending Mega Bucks on the Iraq way and our Big Businesses and Banks were pulling in the profits from producing and servicing this huge wasteful spending-machine of war for profits, where were these Republican conservatives then? They were pulling in the wealthy profits that are the basis of a future Mega Inflationary period to follow. While this was taking place the other conservative, non-war profiteers, were busy milking the domestic economy of Freddie and Fannie along with the conservative hedge fund managers milking all the stock market funds before they were finally exposed from innocent dumb people who could not make payment long enough to flip the real estate they were hording before the coming economic collapse surfaced. This almost sounds like an intentional beautifully orchestrated scam to bring down Our Federal Government and the onslaught of conservative pretenders who now rush to save the world from financial disaster, it sounds pretty much like a scenario where a fire bug burns down a mansion and reports it to the fire department, offering to lead them to the scene and show them how to put out the fire. What is taking place today is sure to become a movie in a few years. It will probably be named “Sin, Crime and Salvation”.

Posted by: budshi | February 21, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

When we were spending Mega Bucks on the Iraq way and our Big Businesses and Banks were pulling in the profits from producing and servicing this huge wasteful spending-machine of war for profits, where were these Republican conservatives then? They were pulling in the wealthy profits that are the basis of a future Mega Inflationary period to follow. While this was taking place the other conservative, non-war profiteers, were busy milking the domestic economy of Freddie and Fannie along with the conservative hedge fund managers milking all the stock market funds before they were finally exposed from innocent dumb people who could not make payment long enough to flip the real estate they were hording before the coming economic collapse surfaced. This almost sounds like an intentional beautifully orchestrated scam to bring down Our Federal Government and the onslaught of conservative pretenders who now rush to save the world from financial disaster, it sounds pretty much like a scenario where a fire bug burns down a mansion and reports it to the fire department, offering to lead them to the scene and show them how to put out the fire. What is taking place today is sure to become a movie in a few years. It will probably be named “Sin, Crime and Salvation”.

Posted by: budshi | February 21, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

According to Lane the WI Gov. knew there wasn't a fiscal crisis since he gave away $111+M in tax cuts to businesses.

So why should government employees give away anything.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 21, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, you quote the Milwaukee Journal, however, they have not been giving all the facts either. Teachers and state workers have been giving concessions for a number of years in exchange for their pensions and healthcare.

As someone in the private sector, yes, I would like to realize savings. But I would not simplify issues and ignore the real facts of what is really behind Gov. Walker's actions.

And I am smart enough to realize when the top 3% are trying to pull eyes away from the real issues.

in 1980, the last pre-Reagan year, families in the bottom 90% averaged $30,446 in income, after adjusting for inflation, $72 more than the $30,374 comparable families earned in 2006.
5 years later, it's worse.

Is your vision for this country that the bottom 90% be in poverty?
That we have an unstable country with rising crime and unemployment like Mexico, Peru, et. al? That we are nothing but serfs for the top 3%?

I am someone who is in the top 10%.... who is not motivated by greed.

Wake up, people.

Know your real enemy before it's too late.


Posted by: mochegal | February 21, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Will someone please hand me the hot-air sickness bag. This is one hell of a stretch by Mr. Lane. We're not seeing gun sights over the Wisconsin governor's face. We're not hearing violent rhetoric about "reloading" or "Second Amendment remedies" in Madison. We're not witnessing the kind of hate speech that comes from far-right nut-jobs on Faux "News".
For Charles Lane to make such comparisons is ludicrous. Why does the Post give this guy ink? Find him some pre-dawn corner on the AM dial where he won't insult so many readers' intelligence.

Posted by: valeoftheoaks | February 21, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Is it even possible for you to stop lying and misrepresenting the positions of other people? Or do you suffer from some sort of compulsion that pushes you towards constant dishonesty?

Posted by: stormhit | February 21, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

sonofmohg wrote: The fact is that when Walker took the Governors office, Wisconsin had a budget surplus! They passed a $140 million tax give away to special interest groups who gave to Walkers campaign.
===========================================
The corporate tax-cut bills were approved in January. They do not take effect until the next two-year budget, from July 2011 to June 2013.

The state's deficit is very real. There is a section that, read in isolation, does show a $121.4 million general fund gross balance as of June 30, 2011, and a net balance of $56.4 million. These are the figures used by the governor's opponents to say the state is in surplus.

But the fine print of the rest of the memo spells out at least $315.7 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($153.2 million alone), the public defender’s office and for corrections. (EMac note: The figure rises to $437 million if you factor in all of the costs submarined in the footnotes).

The state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued state income tax reciprocity deal. The deal covered individuals who live in Wisconsin and earn income in Minnesota. More individuals live in Wisconsin and earn income in Minnesota than live in Minnesota and earn income in Wisconsin.

Also, like most states Wisconsin has succumbed to budget gimmickry, which happened under the prior Democratic governor. The $121.4 million figure doesn't include $200 million Wisconsin raided out of its state’s “Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund,” representing a debt that the Wisconsin state supreme court declared resulted from an illegal raid on the fund under former Democrat governor Jim Doyle, which was done to balance the budget. Finally, the $121.4 million figure doesn’t include the $25.2 owed to the public defender’s office ($3.5 million) and the state’s department of corrections ($21.7 million).



Posted by: lure1 | February 21, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

"on what possible basis can union leaders instruct their members to give up an estimated $330 million worth of hard-earned, contractually guaranteed benefits over the next couple of years?"
----So They Can Get back to Work, Charles. That's the Basis. Union members actually like working, just like most of the rest of us.Protesting is always a last resort that happens when the battle is almost lost. Ever noticed that?

"... If they had the interests of their membership at heart, they would give in on bargaining rights, which can always be restored under a friendlier government later."
---- Friendlier Govt. Later?? Oh,apparently yer kidding because you blow up yer own argument here......:
"They want to preserve collective bargaining at all costs, because without it they will lose the flow of dues money. And without dues money, the unions have no political war chests, and without political war chests, they are no longer power brokers in state and local elections."...................................Aaaaand, When They Are No Longer Power Brokers in Elections, There Will Never BE a "Friendlier Government Later". Since the Supreme Court JAN. 2010 decision in favor of Wall St. Lobby group Citizens United (what a clever name for a Wall St. lobbying group) Democrats have No Chance to win elections without door-to-door union-paid campaigners like me. Therefore -- Permanent Republican Majority..... If you were wise enough to care about the future of America, you would look in the mirror and accept that we now live under a Wall Street Dictatorship - Not a Democratic Republic. But of course,expressing yourself based on that reality would piss off the Kings and Queens of Wall St. who buy advertising in the Post.

Posted by: deanorff | February 21, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

They want to preserve collective bargaining at all costs, because without it they will lose the flow of dues money. And without dues money, the unions have no political war chests, and without political war chests, they are no longer power brokers in state and local elections.
==========================================
My argument exactly. The stranglehold on the states has to be stopped. The unions have gone well beyond worker's rights and are spending millions to manipulate elections in order to place people in office who will serve them.

Posted by: bethg1841 | February 21, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

And what about the stranglehold of Big Banks and Investment firms on America, her economy and her political process?

What about the fact that Big Business withholds payments to small business anywhere from 60-120 days, essentially using small business and their short term lenders without paying interest?

What about the stranglehold small business is feeling when they can't get loans from the banks (the very banks that were bailed out by tax dollars) to expand despite a solid earnings history?

Bank of America had record profits, paid bonuses of over $144 billion and yet paid no corporate taxes.

Wealth does not trickle down.
Read your history books.

Follow the money.

It ISN'T concentrated in the pockets of public workers.

It IS concentrated in the top 3% of the wealthiest people in the US.


Posted by: mochegal | February 21, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Nonsense. Public and private-sector unions have often made concessions of this nature. They understand the need to compromise. What they don't want to sign away is their right to bargain collectively. Looks like the Koch family investment in Walker is paying off. By the way, their daddy, Fred Koch, made his money building Joseph Stalin's oil fields. Funny, Stalin hated independent unions as well.

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | February 21, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, if you give up the right to bargain, you're never going to get it back! Seriously, do you know anything about how a contract negotiation actually works?

the unions are willing to make wage & benefit concessions in light of the upcoming budget crisis in order to avoid layoffs, which is in the best interests of their members, with the expectation that when the state prospers again they'll be able to negotiate things like pay raises. If you remove their ability to organize & bargain collectively, they'll never get anything back no matter how good the times are because pandering GOP politicians will simply write rebate checks and/or cut taxes again.

Mr. Lane, you deliberately miss the point and misstate the union position, because you agree with Gov. Walker's plan: break the public employee unions, regardless of anything else. We are not fooled.

Posted by: JLease | February 21, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

ladyrantsalot wrote : Nonsense. Public and private-sector unions have often made concessions of this nature. They understand the need to compromise. What they don't want to sign away is their right to bargain collectively. Looks like the Koch family investment in Walker is paying off. By the way, their daddy, Fred Koch, made his money building Joseph Stalin's oil fields. Funny, Stalin hated independent unions as well.

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

There you go, throw in gratuitous Stalin reference - means absolutely nothing. Walker ran on these exact proposals. The unions put out adds against him. The democrats ran against him and his ideas. This isn't anything that he's just pulled out of his back pocket (this is consistent with his history). So, if you don't like it, run against him and change the law. Otherwise, the unions were on the losing end of this election and, as Obama very clearly said last, the republicans won so deal with it.

Gotta love the democrat side of aisle. If they win, they say too bad, we won. If they lose they suddenlty want the republicans to compromise and there is something wrong with the republicans if they don't.

Posted by: Marin823 | February 21, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, if nut-picking an anonymous blog comment is your idea of analysis, then you need to retire. Either that, or you need to put "out-of-touch beltway elitist" into your tag line. You (and that idiot anonymous commenter) obviously have absolutely no idea what "collective bargaining" means. People died for that right, the right to simply sit down at the table with the fat-cat suits as an equal and not be rolled over. Every true worker in the country understands how important that right is.

If you really can't wrap your head around why unions would fight tooth and nail to not let the greedy oligarchs take away the right to collectively bargain, then you are completely out of touch with real America. So either admit that, or just resign. Your worthless "analysis" is not worth WaPo's dime.

Posted by: jiji1 | February 21, 2011 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Unions are corrupt and could care less about us taxpayers. They fight every reform effort and seek extravagent raises and unlimited health care. Every DEM legislature and admin agree to long term raises and keep pushing reform off. Well the chickens have come home to roost. WI has drawn the line. Good for Gov Walker. Time to bust these unions and their corrupt leaders. Suckers should stop paying dues and start gaining a backbone. Why should anyone HAVE to join a union to get a job. VA NC do it right. Collective bargaining is banned.

Posted by: espnfan | February 22, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It's not complicated: if you give up collective bargaining rights you do not participate in the discussion about your benefits. If you give up your benefits during a time of economic distress you can negotiate them back later. It's not about the interest of workers versus the interest of union leaders; it is about short term versus long term interest.

One of the very basic (I mean every college-educated person should know this) purposes of a union is to offset management's power that arises from a longer time horizon. Unions were created to protect worker's interest over the long haul. To suggest otherwise (the predicate point of this whole column) is just sheer stupidity.

Posted by: orgbluspider | February 22, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Charles Lane should go back to grade school to learn the basics of logic that is learned by children. He states that union leaders should "give in on bargaining rights, which can always be restored under a friendlier government later... " How, pray tell, can you restore benefits if you have no bargaining rights? It's this kind of lame brain logic that plagues the Washington Post.

Posted by: Paaa | February 22, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the obvious escapes notice again. The unions have smoked out the intentions of the governor by caving on the money issues: now he still won't budge, and its because its really NOT about the money, its about destroying the public unions, just like he did in Milwaukee County when he was county executive. This is not the first time he's pulled this, unfortunately, the electorate didn't poke around in his history very closely and believed him when he said he'd create 250,000 jobs. When the race to the bottom is through, wages here will be below poverty level and we won't have to export any more jobs, because we'll be working for less than the Chinese. Maybe that's how we'll get those 250,000 jobs he promised.

Posted by: rewriter | February 22, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

What is the point of having a union if you have no collective bargaining rights? For the union to give up those rights they have no "collective" leverage which is the entire point of a union. It is an institution to ensure fair pay and benefits to its members. It is stupid to even consider that they would let go of these rights when it is the sole purpose they even exist.

Posted by: lefo81 | February 22, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

So tell me Mr Lane...how much did Charles and David pay you for this little gem? I can't think of a single other reason why you would write something so patently stupid?

Posted by: kmdyson | February 22, 2011 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Charles,

Your article sucked. I think the only purpose of it was to say something stupid to piss people off so they post to your article -- but does it really help your career to have an endless list of postings calling you an idiot and a poor writer?

I'm suckered.

Here goes:

Effective unions can't exist without collective bargaining rights -- we see how ineffective unions have become in states that have lost these rights. I think the money that unions charge in dues is outrageous but it's only in response to an American system that gives power to those that wield the most cash. Unions have to compete with corporate interests and big bankrolls.

The system sucks, but it doesn't really matter. The US is nearly complete in its transformation from a democracy into a corporate oligarchy, so who cares.

Posted by: ShawnDavis1 | February 23, 2011 12:00 AM | Report abuse

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