Wisconsin’s Woes

The unions have rallied the troops and brought in reinforcements from outside of Wisconsin to protest Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal. The democrats have taken their wagon and fled across state lines to prevent a vote on the budget. Wisconsin physicians or physician impersonators (either way this appears to be a considerable ethical and legal violation) handing out “sick” notes to anyone at the protest to turn in to their employers.

There is nothing like some one-liners to whip a crowd into a frenzy, but I wonder how many of the folks on the streets can really articulate what is being proposed and what it means?

I have heard several protesters claim that Gov. Walker wants to take away their right to bargain collectively. Not entirely. The proposal states:

Collective bargaining – The bill would make various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages.  Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by referendum.  Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled.  Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union.  Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.  These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts.  Local law enforcement and fire employees, and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes. (read a full summary of Gov. Walker’s proposals HERE).

In my minimal understanding, collective bargaining would no longer include pensions and health insurance which would be brought closer inline with private sector employees. I have heard complaints about the teachers being forced to have higher class sizes, but I’ve not found specific reference to that. Short of knocking down walls, it would seem that most classrooms can only hold 30-35 students, so I’m not understanding how awful this would be. A few more papers to grade, a few more students to help after school with their assignments, a few more challenges … beats being unemployed.

John Fund, a columnist at the Wall Street Journal discusses this extreme reaction in Wisconsin:

…a former Minnesota public school teacher who became a contract negotiator for the American Federation of Teachers, says that since the 1960s collective bargaining has so “greatly increased the political influence of unions” that they block the sorts of necessary change that other elements of society have had to accept.

Making sacrifices. Doing more with less. Being mindful of where every dollar is spent. These are things most residents of the United States have been living with everyday for the last few years, but it does appear that there are unions not willing to face that reality with the rest of us.

To restore our country, I would prefer that all of us lose a little bit, instead of some of us losing everything. Sacrifice will build us up … greed will destroy us.

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