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Monday, February 14, 2011

Notes On Walker's Assault On Workers

Video from Today’s Labor Rally at Wisconsin’s Capitol

I find it totally bizarre that some folks are comparing Walker’s three day push to ram through his union busting bill with Obama's health care reform bill. There’s just no camparison. Say what you will, but Obama's HCR had nearly a year of hearings, debates and townhalls held across the country before it was passed. Show me the state assembly and senate townhalls on Walker’s union busting bill? Anybody? Not one.

Then there’s the “I would like to ask the people that are opposed to this plan, how would you fix the $3.3 billion deficit? "

The answer is simple. A true leader would sit down with agency heads, mid-level supervisors, workers, their representatives and their unions and start negotiating. The state has a deficit to fix. People get it. On top of that, the Wisconsin legislature is now full of low-wage tea-bag conservatives who campaigned and won as "cutters" and "savers." The Joe Knilans, Tyler August's, Evan Wynn’s, Neal Kedzie’s, Loudenback and the rest should step up and show us why they were elected and what their districts are willing to sacrifice in state aid cuts. $5 million each would be a good start. There are 99 assembly districts. That would add up to a half-a-billion dollars. Start doing your jobs. But instead, they're attacking workers. If this were really about the budget and equal sacrifice, Walker would sit down in every Assembly and Senate member's office and lay down what the goal is and ask how much THEIR district can pledge towards reducing state aid, and how long those sacrifices will be needed to remain in place. That’s what needs to be done. Not attacking workers. But you know that would never happen. Conservatives? Not! Phonies and cowards? Absolutely!

But the absolute worst thing the governor can say is, "I have a problem and there's nothing to negotiate." That's not leadership. That's a fool.

This isn’t about the budget. It’s about grabbing power and busting labor unions. That Walker might be able to save a couple hundred million in the process is totally incidental.

Let’s not kids ourselves here. Walker is doing the dirty work of the anti-union WMC and their local satellite contribution syndicates like Forward Janesville and the "Rock County 5.0." Aided by their media monopoly partner the Janesville Gazette, they have been eerily quiet hoping that Walker gets his way. Afterwards, it'll be champagne and caviar. But not for you.

In addition to all the sound and fury over labor issues, Walker also intends on scrapping BadgerCare and Medicaid altogether by revamping the normal legislative processes, public vetting, and even state laws to give non-elected bureaucrats unprecedented power to signficantly modify and supersede most statutory provisions regarding the programs. Very serious stuff that will put almost 20% of Wisconsin's population in the gutter.

Read Walker's bill here.

Here are a few other highlights from the proposed bill that are lost in light of the major changes being proposed by the governor. The question is "Who is Governor Walker really serving?" It is certainly not the people of Wisconsin. The following passage containing five points was sent to me by a reader.

1. Local municipalities will have to hold a referendum to increase general municipal employee wages above the consumer price index amount (p59). The same is true for local school boards (p105)

2. Takes away the rights on local municipalities to establish benefit pension plans unless employees pay one half of all actuarial required contributions (p60)

3. The directors of many state agencies would be given the authority to appoint a deputy director (p108) or an executive assistant. If they all appoint a deputy director, it will be more jobs for “friends and supporters” at a much higher cost to taxpayers.

4. Creates rules that allow “an appointing authority may reassign an employee in a career executive position to a career executive position in any agency if the appointing authority in the agency to which the employee is to be reassigned approves of the reassignment.” (p113)

5. For the following departments, staffing is reduced by the said amount in each department only to be replaced by an unclassified division administrator. The number in parenthesis represents the reduction in FTE and offsetting increase in division administrator FTE’s. The areas of government are: Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (3); Children and Families (3); Department of Corrections (3), Department of Finances (2); Health Services (3); Insurance (2); Natural Resources (3); Public Service Commission (3); Regulation and Licensing (2); Revenue (3), Tourism (1), Transportation (3); and Workforce Development (2). These changes are on pages 120 to 122; 126 to 130; 132 to 133 of the bill respectively. The exception is the Department of Administration which will swap 2 FTEs for 3 unclassified division administrator FTE’s. The changes will result in 36 new division administrators and 35 fewer line staff to do the work. Is this part of the job creation plan? Will it result in higher costs to taxpayers? Who will fill these new division administrator positions?.

Although the mainstream media and Walker’s supporters refer to this as a “budget repair bill” there is no doubt that it is a “Theft Of Wages and Benefits” strategy roadmap designed to crush the working and middle-classes. Folks Walker refers to as the “haves.”

According to the Albert Shanker Institute, there is no correlation between a state's budget gap and public workers with collective bargaining rights. On the other hand there is evidence of a strong correlation between a regressive tax rate (Wisconsin for example) where the poor pay a larger portion of their income in taxes than do the rich) and a state budget gap.

Related: Eye On Wisconsin -- Despotic bill is not about the budget

1 comment:

New Buffalo MI fishing said...

The republican­s know better than to blame unions for their budget problems, it's consistent with how they communicate­e with their supporters­. Public employees form a union to have a singular voice in negotiation­ for their job category. Contracts are negotiated in good faith based on the amount of funds a government entity has to spend in a given year. In this republican driven recession, public employees, who just show up to work and accept whatever wage and benefits both sides agree to, are the villans, a convenient scapegoats for republican­s. Let Wisconsin legislator­s have their salary and benefits imposed upon them by the voters, it's only fair play.

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