Wisconsin Teacher Showdown

Neither side is covering themselves in glory in the battle over the Badger State budget.

Wisconsin’s new governor, Republican Scott Walker, has proposed radical cutbacks in the benefits of state workers, along with curtailing their right to collectively bargain. The new state legislature, which is overwhelmingly Republican, seems ready to go along. So the public sector unions are staging an illegal wildcat strike and Democrats in the state legislature are taking a page from their brethren in Texas and skedaddling out of state to avoid a quorum.

Walker isn’t backing down.

“If anything, I think it’s made the Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate stronger,” he told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren in an interview Thursday night. “They’re not going to be bullied. They’re not going to be intimidated.”

Naturally, Washington is weighing in:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement backing Walker’s proposal, saying governors like Walker “are daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face at all levels of government, and daring to commit themselves to solutions that will liberate our economy and help put our citizens on a path to prosperity.”

The Big Guy, too:

President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin’s broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals. Obama accused Scott Walker, the state’s new Republican governor, of unleashing an “assault” on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

The president’s political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals.

I would argue that the internal affairs of  Wisconsin is not the business of the president or the Speaker but that’s apparently a bygone notion.

Walker’s case is simple:

Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget. “For us, it’s simple,” said Mr. Walker, whose family home was surrounded by angry workers this week, prompting the police to close the street. “We’re broke.”

But his ruthlessness in carrying this out is eye-opening:

For months, state and local officials around the country have tackled their budget problems by finding trims here and there, apologetically resorting to layoffs, and searching for accounting moves to limp through one more year. Events in Wisconsin this week, though, are a sign of something new: No more apologies, no half-measures. Given the dire straits of budgets around the country, other state leaders may take similarly drastic steps with state workers, pensions and unions.

“I’m sure we’re going to hear more from other states where Republican governors are trying to heap the entire burden of the financial crisis on public employees and public employees’ unions,” said William B. Gould IV, a labor law professor at Stanford University and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. “I think it’s quite possible that if they’re successful in doing this, a lot of other Republican governors will emulate this,” Mr. Gould added.

Naturally, the battle lines are being drawn on predictable partisan lines.

Ezra Klein insists that unions aren’t to blame for Wisconsin’s budget problems.

Let’s be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions. That’s also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country’s labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country.

Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don’t blame the unions. Not for this recession.

And that’s right insofar as it goes. But, like most states, Wisconsin’s most significant budget item is education spending and, like most states, the teachers’ unions are an incredibly powerful actor in setting the budget.

Then again, Ezra argues, Scott — who’s only been in office six weeks — himself partly created the problem he’s trying to solve.

The governor signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues. The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit.

The NYT editorial board blames Walker:

In a year when governors across the country are competing to show who’s toughest, no matter what the consequences, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin stands out as the first to bring his State Capitol to a halt.

Like many governors, he wants to cut the benefits of state workers. But he also decided a budget crisis was a good time to advance an ideological goal dear to his fellow Republicans: eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Not surprisingly, thousands of workers descended on the Capitol building, pounding on windows and blocking doors, yelling “shut it down.” So many teachers called in sick that public schools in Madison and more than a dozen other districts had to be closed. On Thursday, the Democrats in the State Senate refused to show up, vowing to prevent any action until the governor drops his plan. The state police were sent to find them.

Mr. Walker has decried the chaos, but it was entirely self-inflicted. His plan to undermine the unions, which would have no direct impact on the budget, would take away nearly all of their rights to negotiate.

Mike Tomasky:

As for the unions, I am not among liberals the world’s biggest defender of public-employee unions, but Walker’s proposal is obviously designed in terribly bad faith and is a first step toward trying to bust the unions altogether, an unspoken but cherished conservative goal of longstanding. Making public-sector employees pay a larger share of their healthcare premiums is one thing. Doing what Walker is trying to do is appalling. He’s just making scapegoats of hard-working people who contribute no less to the economy simply because they’re employed in the public sector.

Megan McArdle, though, sees it differently.

State governments are where some of the hardest choices about taxes and spending have to be made.  And thanks to a confluence of factors–ObamaCare rules that keep states from cutting Medicaid spending, poorly thought-out pension obligations that are now coming due, crashing revenue thanks to the recession, and in all but one states, a balanced budget requirement–those choices have to be made now.  Wisconsin is facing a $3.6 billion shortfall over the next two years.  The money is going to have to come from somewhere.

She elaborates at length why she’s torn as to whether the teachers are the right place.

The WSJ editorial board, shockingly, sides with the governor against the unions.

Mr. Walker’s very modest proposal would take away the ability of most government employees to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index, unless otherwise specified by a voter referendum. The bill would also require union members to contribute 5.8% of salary toward their pensions and chip in 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

If those numbers don’t sound outrageous, you probably work in the private economy. The comparable nationwide employee health-care contribution is 20% for private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average employee contribution from take-home pay for retirement was 7.5% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

[…]

The reality is that the unions are trying to trump the will of the voters as overwhelmingly rendered in November when they elected Mr. Walker and a new legislature. As with the strikes against pension or labor reforms that routinely shut down Paris or Athens, the goal is to create enough mayhem that Republicans and voters will give up.

[…]

Unions are treating these reforms as Armageddon because they’ve owned the Wisconsin legislature for years and the changes would reduce their dominance. Under Governor Walker’s proposal, the government also would no longer collect union dues from paychecks and then send that money to the unions. Instead, unions would be responsible for their own collection regimes. The bill would also require unions to be recertified annually by a majority of all members. Imagine that: More accountability inside unions.

The larger reality is that collective bargaining for government workers is not a God-given or constitutional right. It is the result of the growing union dominance inside the Democratic Party during the middle of the last century. John Kennedy only granted it to federal workers in 1962 and Jerry Brown to California workers in 1978. Other states, including Indiana and Missouri, have taken away collective bargaining rights for public employees in recent years, and some 24 states have either limited it or banned it outright.

And for good reason. Public unions have a monopoly position that gives them undue bargaining power. Their campaign cash—collected via mandatory dues—also helps to elect the politicians who are then supposed to represent taxpayers in negotiations with those same unions. The unions sit, in effect, on both sides of the bargaining table. This is why such famous political friends of the working man as Franklin Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia opposed collective bargaining for government workers, even as they championed private unions.

Harry Brighouse, a philosophy professor at Wisconsin’s flagship campus and contributor to the left-of-center Crooked Timber blog, thinks the protests have a shot:

I’ve chatted with one Democratic legislator and my wife with another: both report that the Republicans are really rattled by the response, having simply not anticipated it (no-one, absolutely no-one, did—everyone I know has been stunned, and that includes leading union organisers). I have to say the Democrats in the legislature have been solid—like the union leaderships they seem to understand that, as one just told me “we’re in the fight of our lives”. And there is a sense among the demonstrators that this is the one to win.

Yves Smith is more pessimistic:

Don’t underestimate the ability of the Democrats to trade this opportunity away. All the defecting Senators are asking for is to slow down the process and negotiate the bill. Sounds reasonable, right?

As someone who been party to deal-making, the problem with being reasonable and measured is that that only works with fair-minded and/or experienced opponents. Being non-negotiable is not only terribly effective (you throw a tantrum and then make only token concessions to let the other side save a teeny bit of face), it also takes comparatively little in the way of bargaining skills.

The right wing, for the most part, has made being unreasonable and non-negotiable part of its branding. The left, peculiarly, has not adapted. And the result is that it too often winds up ceding way more ground than it needs to.

Tim F. notes that “Wisconsin has a fairly straightforward process for recalling elected officials.” But it’s only operative once an official has been in office for more than a year. And there’s no evidence at all that Walker’s actions are unpopular with anyone other than public employees — who have something of a vested interest here.

Dave Schuler draws a humorous comparison with what’s going on in Madison and the rioting in Athens and other European cities. Certainly, the spectacle is unseemly.

As for me, I’m actually torn here.

I have very little sympathy for labor unions in general and for public sector unions in particular. I think organization and collective bargaining are good for both sides — it’s simply more efficient to negotiate broad terms once rather than on a per employee basis — but strikes, lockouts, and variations of the practices are counterproductive. At the end of the day, it’s up to the people doing the hiring to determine what employees are worth to the company.

And it’s even more problematic when we’re dealing with public employees, in that they have an enormous ability to hold society hostage. We’re entrusting these people to teach our kids, police our streets, and fight our fires. Their ability to collectively withhold their services at the most inopportune times is simply untenable. And that’s to say nothing of their ability to hold us financially hostage.

Further, the actions of both the Wisconsin employees and the state’s Democratic legislators are not exactly worthy of sympathy. Elected officials hiding in another state to avoid a vote? Seriously? And, I’m sorry, school teachers — let alone those with a valid contract — walking out on their classrooms for political leverage is as unprofessional as it is illegal.

All that said, though, I actually agree with Tomasky and others who argue Walker is acting in bad faith. He was just elected in November. If one reads his platform on Education and Government Spending & Reform, there’s zero indication of plans for radical overhaul of collective bargaining rules.  (He did, naturally, promise to roll back his predecessor’s tax hikes.) And, while it’s reasonable enough for a Republican governor to expect to be able to get an up-or-down vote on his bills when both houses of the state legislature are majority Republican, Democrats have a right to expect not to have radical legislation crammed down their throats without a chance to debate and offer amendments.

FILED UNDER: Education, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ponce says:

    Yeah,

    What a win for the Republicans.

    Republican governor takes office, gives some huge handouts to his cronies, then tries to pay for it by cutting pay to cops and firefighters.

  2. Chad S says:

    Cutting pay is one thing. Trying to take away their right to bargain has nothing to do to with the budget. Its just about trying to break a union.

  3. legion says:

    This is the really underreported part of the issue right now:

    The governor signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues. The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit.

    The Gov had a surplus when he came into office. He threw it out the window, and _then_ decided that there was:
    a) a budget crisis,
    b) that it could only be solved by unilaterally stripping CBA rights from state workers, and
    c) that it had to happen _right now_.

    It is pretty clearly demonstrable that Gov Walker is not negotiating in good faith; this is union-busting, pure and simple. If a corporation pulled a stunt like this, the FTC would be all over them like stink on shite.

  4. steveegg says:

    Of course, the national sources didn’t exactly mention that back in December, literally on their way out of power, the Democrats tried to hand the public unions 16 well-overdue contracts (for July 2009-June 2011) that handed control of the workplace to the unions as well as a significant pay increase for the one union that already had a 2009-2011 contract for 2011-2013. It didn’t fail because Republicans ran away. Indeed only two legislators out of 129 eligible missed the special session, and the Democrats sprung a convict from Huber jail to provide the margin-of-victory in the Assembly. It failed because it went so far, the suddenly-ex-Senate Dem leader (tossed from his leadership role when he scuttled the first of 17 deals) was repulsed by it.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @ponce: Actually, cops and firefighters are specifically excluded. They’re marching with the others in solidarity, though.

    @Chad S: Most states have long since done it on the grounds that the public shouldn’t be hostage to those paid out of their pockets.

    @Legion: I tend to agree. I’m not opposed to union busting, necessarily, but I don’t like backhanded changes to public policy.

  6. ponce says:

    “Actually, cops and firefighters are specifically excluded. They’re marching with the others in solidarity, though.”

    Still, it’s nice of Wingnut Gov. Walker to stir up the Democrats base so nicely going into the 2012 election.

    And ahead of the House Republicans first budget…

  7. Dustin says:

    steveegg, I’m not sure which union you reference was given a healthy increase, I haven’t seen that before. Any links for that?

    This is a result of many sides unfortunately. The unions drug their heels with the previous governor, but in November he had contracts in place with 16 of 19 unions as steveegg noted. However, missing from steveegg’s posts is that, then governor-elect, Walker made a large public fuss that everyone needed to deny those contracts and wait for him to be governor and negotiate contracts the voters would more prefer. The contracts were never approved, again with a lot of embarrassments that steveegg noted, and Walker has never attempted negotiation.

    Add to that that this is being done to cover Walker’s own shortfall for the year and it is pretty extreme. The people marching in Madison aren’t opposed to restructuring their benefits, in fact the contracts that never passed included 100 million in union concessions, including payments to healthcare and pensions. Walker is trying to break the unions to fill an addition 32 million that he put there, all the while saying that unions are refusing to pay into their healthcare and pensions.

  8. Brett says:

    I’m sure this will just do wonders for teacher retention, when half of new teachers are gone by the fifth year. You reap what you sow, Wisconsin.

  9. Idiot says:

    Wisconsin has to compete with no income state taxes like Texas, Florida, Tennessee and low cost states. It’s really simple. Compete and grow or become upstate NY or CA. I fail to see the “ruthlessness” that James describes. The teachers unions have been pretty ruthless to the children trapped in crappy schools by fighting vouchers and charter at every turn. Of course who cares about the kids that get tramped in tenure insulated schools?

  10. Chad S says:

    James: read what the bill says. They’re trying to break unions by denying them the ability to collect dues and prohibiting any employees from collecting dues. That has nothing to do with the budget or any state funding. Its only about breaking a union under the guise of a self created financial crisis.

  11. Stan says:

    According to the Madison Capital Times, the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office stated that Governor Walker took office with a budget surplus. He and his allies in the legislature threw this away through a combination of spending on special interests and tax breaks to business. Then, having caused a deficit, Walker asked for givebacks by the unions. In the language of my people, this is close to the classical definition of chutzpah.

  12. anjin-san says:

    We are clearly in need of widespread salary and pension reform in the public arena. That being said, this is more about union busting and a phony crisis ginned up to raise the governor’s profile. Public employees need to negotiate within the realm of budgetary reality. They also have the right to negotiate, and that is non-negotiable.

  13. tom p says:

    “but strikes, lockouts, and variations of the practices are counterproductive. ”

    If ones intent is slavery…

    “At the end of the day, it’s up to the people doing the hiring to determine what employees are worth to the company.”

    What part of “collective bargaining” do you not understand James?

    “And it’s even more problematic when we’re dealing with public INSTITUTIONS, in that they have an enormous ability to hold THEIR EMPLOYEES hostage. We’re entrusting OUR GOVERNMENT TO TREAT these people WHO teach our kids, police our streets, and fight our fires FAIRLY AND WITH DUE RESPECT. A REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENTS ability to HOLD THESE EMPLOYESS WHO MIGHT DARE TO collectively withhold their services at the most inopportune times AS SLAVES is simply untenable.” Fixed that for you James.

    As to: “And that’s to say nothing of their ability to hold us financially hostage.” I am dumb founded by the inanity of the statement

    “walking out on their classrooms for political leverage is as unprofessional as it is illegal.”

    It might be illegal but when the GOP governer REFUSES to even sit down at the negotiating table…

    What choice do they have?

  14. Herb says:

    Ya know….if I lived in a state with a Republican governor, I’d probably move. We’ve got enough problems without a bunch of busy bodies out there trying to create more.

    Also, James, when you write of unions having “an enormous ability to hold society hostage,” that’s kind of the point of a union.

  15. steveegg says:

    Under the rejected-by-a-bipartisan-vote contracts negotiated by former governor Jim Doyle on his way out of office, the SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin union, as part of its July 2011-June 2013 contract for home healthcare workers, was to receive a cumulative compensation increase of $622,400 annually (per the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimate. Of note, they are the only union that currently has a state contract; the other 16 are working under the terms of the July 2007-June 2009 contracts despite the Democrats running the entirety of state government between January 2009 and January 2011.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @tom p:

    As noted, I think collective bargaining makes sense in setting terms of work. The various pro sports unions do a good job of that, for example, to the benefit of both ownership and workers. But salaries and so forth shouldn’t be negotiated with a mob but rather with individuals, based on their unique talents and contributions.

    And, please, public employees aren’t slaves in the dozens of states where they don’t have the right to strike. They’re better paid as a class than the rest of us and are free to resign and seek employment elsewhere.

    Last I checked, teachers unions don’t have an institutional role in governing the state. The elected representatives of the people make the laws. The teachers are free, like anyone else, to take legal actions to influence the outcome of the next election.

  17. jwest says:

    Walker should order the teachers back to the classroom on Monday. Any that don’t show up without a valid excuse should be fired and replaced.

    It’s that easy.

  18. sam says:

    “Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget. “

    That’s an argument for having the unions contribute more (which I think they would be willing to do). What’s the argument for cutting their balls off by denying them the right to collectively bargain?

    Brian Beutler over at Josh Marshall’s place has this to say about the gov:

    Wisconsin Gov. Walker Ginned Up Budget Shortfall To Undercut Worker Rights:

    Wisconsin’s new Republican governor has framed his assault on public worker’s collective bargaining rights as a needed measure of fiscal austerity during tough times.

    The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures — service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money — rolling back worker’s bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own. But Walker’s doing it anyhow, to knock down a barrier and allow him to cut state employee benefits immediately.

    Furthermore, this broadside comes less than a month after the state’s fiscal bureau — the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office — concluded that Wisconsin isn’t even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus. In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office.

    “Walker was not forced into a budget repair bill by circumstances beyond he control,” says Jack Norman, research director at the Institute for Wisconsin Future — a public interest think tank. “He wanted a budget repair bill and forced it by pushing through tax cuts… so he could rush through these other changes.”

    “The state of Wisconsin has not reached the point at which austerity measures are needed,” Norman adds.

    In a Wednesday op-ed, the Capitol Times of Madison picked up on this theme.
    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.

    There’s a pdf citation at the link above for the details.

  19. JKB says:

    Well, before there is to much declaring that the illegal strikers win, I would point out that up to this point, citizens of the state who might support the governor have not been able to show their support in person. What with having jobs they have to actually show up to and kids who’ve been thrown out of school and such. Let’s see if something happens over the weekend.

    And any cost to the school system to make up these lost days to instruction should come out of any pay or benefit increases the union thugs might have gotten.

    And given the spelling and history errors presented on the protest signs, one must question just how much trust should be given these incompetents in teaching children.

  20. Wayne says:

    Stan where is your link to back up your claims? Walker has only been Governor since January. Wisonsin deficit budget existed before he took office.

    “Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration on Friday told Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker that he would have to cope with a $2.2 billion deficit in the state’s upcoming two-year budgetv”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/109275069.html

    And another link to back it up.

    http://wispolitics.com/1006/Chandler_study_on_next_governor_s_budget.pdf

  21. michael reynolds says:

    One more proof that Republicans are incapable of governing. Ideology almost always trumps pragmatism. It takes a lot to put me on the side of public school teachers, but this will do it.

  22. jwest says:

    Where are the water cannons and nightsticks? If you can’t use them on teacher union thugs, why have them at all?

  23. Dean says:

    Just curious…who hasn’t had to contribute a higher percentage to their 401K/pension (if they even still have a pension) and contribute a higher percentage for their healthcare over the past few years?

    Nearly everyone in the private sector over the past decade has gone from a defined pension benefit to a 401K. In the public sector, those pensions–and now we’re seeing how lucrative many of them are–continue essentially untouched in most cases.

    What’s happening in Wisconsin is all part of the new economic reality. The myriad of governmental bodies cannot keep coming to the taxpayers asking for more money. It’s just not there.

    Governor Walker’s tactics aside, harsh cuts have to be made. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not really optional.

  24. mantis says:

    Walker should order the teachers back to the classroom on Monday. Any that don’t show up without a valid excuse should be fired and replaced.

    It’s that easy.

    That would be amusing if it weren’t so destructive. Firing all the teachers in the state would guarantee the Wisconsin Republicans lose power for many, many years to come, just after gaining it.

    Of course, the governor can’t legally do that, but hey, when have wingnuts ever cared about the law?

  25. Steven Plunk says:

    The bill only removes collective bargaining for benefits, not wages. Since the benefits have been the biggest problem and the amount of contributions expected of the public workers is quite reasonable.

    The idea the state no longer play an active role of collecting for the union has been talked about in many capitols. Again, it’s not that radical of a change.

    This is not about getting covered in glory but making the long overdue changes in public sector compensation. Good for Walker.

  26. mantis says:

    And any cost to the school system to make up these lost days to instruction should come out of any pay or benefit increases the union thugs might have gotten.

    Actually, it should be taken from the governor’s salary and the Republicans in the state legislature, since they created a budget deficit by giving their friends kickbacks specifically so they could union bust as a response to their irresponsible and mendacious legislation.

    They are all a bunch of scumbags whose only interest is making life harder for working people, parents, and the poor, and giving cash to their benefactors.

    Where are the water cannons and nightsticks? If you can’t use them on teacher union thugs, why have them at all?

    Violence is always the wingnut’s first and only solution.

  27. jwest says:

    Mantis,

    You probably thought Reagan couldn’t fire the air traffic controllers either.

    If Walker did summarily fire all the teachers in Wisconsin, he would probably become the presidential frontrunner and eventually equal Reagan’s 49 state victory.

  28. Wiley Stoner says:

    There is no right to organize against the public interest.

  29. mantis says:

    The bill only removes collective bargaining for benefits, not wages. Since the benefits have been the biggest problem and the amount of contributions expected of the public workers is quite reasonable.

    When they make employees pay for more and more of their benefits, it’s a cut in wages. And that’s exactly what Walker is pushing. A huge wage cut.

    Not only that, but it also institutes a wage cap, so their collective bargaining rights for wages will mean basically nothing.

  30. mantis says:

    There is no right to organize against the public interest.

    1. Yes there is.
    2. You don’t get to decide what’s in the public interest.

  31. legion says:

    The bill only removes collective bargaining for benefits, not wages.

    This is not about getting covered in glory but making the long overdue changes in public sector compensation.

    Um, no Steve. You’re being rather dishonest here. The bill also expressly prohibits collecting union dues – what exactly does that have to do with compensation or the state’s costs?

  32. John Burgess says:

    I get to decide that public sector unions are an abomination that never should have been allowed to take their first breaths. Yes, I’m equating my view of the public interest with the public interest. As are others here, only they’re picking the other side.

    Cutting the balls off the public sector unions is only a start… their heads need to go, too. Then their corpses need to be burnt and their ashes scattered. Then salt needs to be strewn on the grounds of their former headquarters.

    One has to be willfully blind to not see the inherent corruption that results from them. Politicians give out goodies to ensure votes; votes go to those politicians who are then obliged to keep jacking up the benefits to ensure the votes next time around. Works in theory; works in obvious practice.

    I suspect that if the WI government placed some ads in The Chronicle or in the newspapers of a dozen state capitals looking for new teachers, they’d have more than they need to replace every wildcatting teacher now in state.

  33. mantis says:

    Shorter John Burgess: Public sector workers should have no rights.

  34. Axel Edgren says:

    HELP CREATE *TEMPORARY* CRISIS

    *PERMANENTLY* SCREW OVER PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

    Yeah, that is basically it. Those democrats *should* have fled the state, Obama *should* call Walker out for being to unions what Wallace was to black Americans.

  35. jwest says:

    If the previous officials who negotiated the excessive benefits acted against their fiduciary duty to the citizens of Wisconsin by trading giveaways of taxpayer dollars for union support in elections, the contracts could be negated.

  36. Mnemosyne says:

    Politicians give out goodies to ensure votes; votes go to those politicians who are then obliged to keep jacking up the benefits to ensure the votes next time around. Works in theory; works in obvious practice.

    Sorry, are you talking about unions or oil companies here? Your comments easily apply to both, but it’s only unions that you want to stop from influencing politics. You want corporations to be able to continue spending millions of dollars to get policies that benefit themselves. Why is that?

  37. Terrye says:

    I think they should fire those teachers and hire some people who can spell. I saw some of those signs out there and while they managed to spell Hitler correctly, they had a hard time with words like “negotiation”.

    FDR was no conservative and he did not support unions for public employees. These people called in sick so that they could go protest this bill. If I called in sick for something like this I would probably get fired. Most people do not have jobs and secure as the ones these teachers have right now. Even if this bill is passed, they will still be better off than a great many of the people who pay the taxes that support them.

    Walker did not lie to anyone or surprise anyone or stab anyone in the back. He ran on the promise to do what he is doing right now, and the people of Wisconsin apparently want these changes to be made. If these folks don’t like it, they can go get another job. I am sure there are people out there who would be more than happy to take their places.

  38. Stan says:

    Wayne, the editorial backing up my claim about Wisconsin’s budget situation is here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/opinion/18fri1.html?hp

    It contains a link to a report by the Wisconsin equivalent of the CBO.

    Around the time Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick were slaughtering the Homestead strikers, George Baer uttered these famous words:

    The rights and interests of laboring men will be protected and cared for, not by labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given control of the property interests of the country.

    Reading many of the comments above, I see that Baer is surprisingly in tune with the present day GOP.

  39. Steven Plunk says:

    Legion, I wasn’t being dishonest, I mentioned the collection of union dues issue.

    John Burgess points out the corrupt relationship between public employee unions and their paid for politicians. Not money in an envelope corrupt but rather dishonest corrupt. The public is now getting smart to this incestuous relationship on government and doesn’t like it.

    How ever this plays out there are many parents who see their children being ignored so gold plated benefit plans stay the norm for teachers. That’s not winning anyone over.

  40. Dustin says:

    The bill only removes collective bargaining for benefits, not wages. Since the benefits have been the biggest problem and the amount of contributions expected of the public workers is quite reasonable.

    No, the only thing Walker left them was the right to bargin for salaries, up to the rate of inflation. All other aspects of the union are stripped, which means more than just benefits. Basically Walker stripped the unions as far as he legally could. He admitted he couldn’t legally just break contracts with the unions, and it’s quite clear that instead he took as much as he could from them.

    Again, any reporting that the protest is about not wanting to contribute to benefits packages is categorically false. Walker can get on Fox as much as he wants and say he’s only asking for a modest concession from the union, but he hide how he’s going about it.

  41. c.red says:

    Just a question, have the State Police been dispatched after the missing representatives and what grounds would be used to compel them to return to the state or the Capitol to establish a quorum?

  42. Drew says:

    Heh. Payback’s a bitch. The pols and their public sector employee sycophant/reliable voting bloc overplayed their hands when the gravy was flowing. Now? The private sector is tired and incapable of paying for outrageous and unsustainable incomes and pensions.

    As someone noted, WI could probably fire them and have replacements at the ready. That’s how a market works; if you are worth it and can command the bucks, great, if you can’t well…….adapt or suffer the consequences, whether its the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Bucks or the public employees.

  43. Terrye says:

    Stan:

    Really? What is Christian about parking yourself in someone’s yard and screaming at his house? Or leaving death threats on the phones of people who dared to support the bill.

    For months we all had to listen to a lot of nonsense about the evil right wingers and their hatred and their incivility. Why, after Giffords was shot we had to hear about how Palin helped make it happen because she used targets on a map.

    Well, there are signs out there with Walker’s face in the cross hairs on a target. I mean come on, these people have gone completely off the deep end.

    The state of Wisconsin is in the hole, and they could care less. They just want to go on collecting their union dues from the state as if it was the job of the state government to keep their coffers full while they make a point of sending a large portion of that money to Democratic politicians..many of whom are in hiding right now…and these people are yakking about democracy?

    There are a lot of people out of work in Wisconsin and the sacrifices they have made are a lot more difficult than what these teachers are facing now…and apparently the unions could care less. Screw the people of Wisconsin they say, gimme gimme gimme.

  44. mantis says:

    Public sector employees are also the people of Wisconsin, and they also pay taxes. Apparently, wingnuts like Terrye think they are non-citizen slaves.

  45. pateacher says:

    I am a teacher and I am so sick and tired of these teachers that complain about being overworked and being screwed over. DON’T LIKE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT, GO OUT AND GET A JOB IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR!!! Stop claiming it’s for the children. You teachers on strike (and unfortunately I know there are some like me who wish not to be lumped in with the union mentality of me, me, me) should be ashamed of yourself when you say it is for the children. If it were for the children, you would be in school actually teaching and not protesting.

  46. mantis says:

    So you would happily accept a 7 – 11% pay cut, pateacher?

  47. Brummagem Joe says:

    This is probably going to turn into a major debacle for Walker and the Republicans. Even if he gets the police who illogically he’s excluded from his attempt to curtail bargaining rights to find and drag the Democrats back to Madison so he can ram this through, the public service employees will just mount a campaign of passive resistance that will bring chaos to the school system and other areas of state govt for months. WI is basically a blue state so I don’t see the Cheezers being too happy that the GOP has brought the state to a condition of dysfunction. Walker’s clumsiness is going to bite him in the butt big time.

  48. Brummagem Joe says:

    As a little addendum to this I’d say it so obvious that Walker is going to go splat over this that I’m just going to sit back and watch it happen. Govt’s are well advised to avoid prolonged destabilizing controversies.

  49. Terrye says:

    Brummagem:

    There is a poll out today at Politico that says 64% do not support public service unions. These teachers have packages averaging right at $100,000 which is a lot more than most people in Wisconsin make. A lot more.

    My husband was a Teamster for years. I am not someone who is just knee jerk anti union, but this is ridiculous. I mean come on, Democratic Senators vowing to hide under a rock for weeks until and unless they get their way, screw everyone else. You think Walker is the only one who might end up with a pr problem over this? I don’t think so.

  50. John Burgess says:

    Shorter Mantis: Huh? Whaa?

  51. Terrye says:

    mantis:

    There are a lot of people in Wisconsin who have taken a 100% pay cut in the last couple of years…and you know what? In the private sector if a business was in the kind of hole the state of Wisconsin is in right now the employees would take a pay cut or get laid off. That is the way it is in the real world.

    The truth is these people are having a cow because they might end up accepting a pay and benefit package most people would kill for.

  52. legion says:

    TPM pulled a little something out of the memory hole,,,
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/flashback-walker-proposed-decertifying-state-unions-video.php?ref=fpblg
    Back when he first won the election (but before taking office), Walker said he intended to flatly decertify the unions altogether… until someone reminded him the Gov doesn’t actually have that power.

    So when he says this has anything to do with fiscal issues, the Gov is _lying_. It is, and always has been, about crushing labor.

  53. Wayne says:

    Stan referring to an editorial with a line taken from a budget statement does not show there was a surplus. Everyone on their dog knows Wisconsin has been running a deficit. Even the former Governor who was a Democrat knows that. Accounting tricks doesn’t fix the bottom lines.

    “If you look at the way Wisconsin does budgeting, we keep saying that year after year the budget is balanced, yet when the official accounting statements come out, we’ve had these gap deficits since at least 1990, and they’ve been growing,” Knapp said.”

    http://badgerherald.com/news/2010/01/17/state_ends_2008-2010.php

    Please google Wisconsin budget deficits.

    Please tell me why “Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration on Friday told Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker that he would have to cope with a $2.2 billion deficit in the state’s upcoming two-year budgetv” if he handed Gov. Walker a surplus?

  54. Brummagem Joe says:

    Terrye says:
    Friday, February 18, 2011 at 17:15
    Brummagem:

    “There is a poll out today at Politico that says 64% do not support public service unions.”

    The only problem is it’s an iffy poll conducted by some PR company. Pew(a bit more respectable polling outfit)have a poll up showing appro for public sector workers at 48% and dissaproval at 40%. Generally speaking I wouldn’t have said teachers, librarians etc are widely perceived as the enemy. WI also has a widely unionized manufacturing sector (I know, I’ve had run ins with them) and somehow even if these guys are Republicans I don’t see them applauding the removal of collective bargaining rights within the state… do you? I’m serenely confident this is going to turn into huge debacle for Walker whose just handed out about 160 billion of tax cuts to favored constituencies. I guess we’ll see whose right.

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    Terrye says:
    Friday, February 18, 2011 at 17:18
    “The truth is these people are having a cow because they might end up accepting a pay and benefit package most people would kill for.”

    The unions would have negotiated on these v layoffs but Walker is on an ideological crusade that you obviously applaud (why? since I presume your not a multimillionaire). I’m not a particular fan of unions but I’m not stupid either and Walker has completely over reached here and it’s going to explode in his face mark my words.

  56. Brummagem Joe says:

    oops senior momento…that should have been 160 million.

  57. tom p says:

    “But salaries and so forth shouldn’t be negotiated with a mob but rather with individuals”

    OK, now I am part of a mob… James, just exactly what the hell are we supposed to negotiate if NOT “salaries and so forth”???? WTF ELSE IS THERE???? (really James, do you read yourself before you click “post comment”???

    “based on their unique talents and contributions.”

    OK, I am a union carpenter… just exactly what “unique talents and contributions” are we to base our negotiations on? Let us set the record straight: ANYBODY willing to work hard (which most people who post and comment here have NO idea what hard work is) AND a reasonable modicum of intelligence (must be able to do basic math, geometry and algebra) can do my job… Would they? Not for $12/ hr. $45 /hr??? They MIGHT think about it ….

    “And, please, public employees aren’t slaves in the dozens of states ”

    Yeah, I reached into the realm of hyperbole but I have to ask James… Do you feel the irony? A libertarian arguing for the power of the state OVER the individual??? I have to wonder what you would say if GOV Walker were a Dem???? Ooooooppps wait a minute, no I don’t.

    “They’re better paid as a class than the rest of us and are free to resign and seek employment elsewhere.”

    Other than “What world do you live in?” I have to ask: If every teacher in WI resigned tomorrow (to seek employment elsewhere of course) WHAT WOULD YOUR RESPONSE BE??????

    That “They are free to go.” or that they have “an enormous ability to hold society hostage.”?????

    Never mind. I already know.

    “Last I checked, teachers unions don’t have an institutional role in governing the state. The elected representatives of the people make the laws. The teachers are free, like anyone else, to take legal actions to influence the outcome of the next election.”

    Yeah… all contractual law thrown out the door.

    Really James, this is like shooting tethered ducks… Have you actually THOUGHT about the words coming out of your mouth? Have you?

  58. tom p says:

    “If it were for the children, you would be in school actually teaching and not protesting.”

    PATeacher: I have 2 sisters and several friends (4 (oooops 6)(7) at last count) who do exactly that….

    AND NONE OF THEM ARE PAID WHAT THEY SHOULD BE.

    PATeacher, metheinks you aren’t a teacher…

  59. pateacher says:

    mantis-
    Yes – I would accept a 7 – 11% pay cut. As a matter of fact, my recommendation to the superintendent of our district this winter was an across the board 10% pay cut for all teachers. Needless to say, my fellow teachers did not agree with me. The difference between me and other teachers is that I have worked in the private sector. I was an accountant prior to becoming a teacher. I understand the real world economy. I understand the concept of no more money. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill when they have all taken pay cuts or worse, lost their jobs. It is time to get real and get your heads out of the sand.

    tom p
    I am a teacher. If they feel they are underpaid, no one is holding a gun to their head and telling them they can’t quit. If it is sooooo bad, quit and choose another profession!

  60. wr says:

    I belong to a union. It covers the writing I do for television. The books I write aren’t covered by union contract.

    When I turn in a script, I get paid in two weeks.

    When I turn in a book, I get paid in three months. Unless they forget, and then it’s three months from the time my agent reminds them.

    This is because in TV, I have a union behind me. I have some leverage because I’m united with my fellow writers.

    Those of you who hate unions hate workers.

    And for the moron who whined that his pension was taken away so public employees’ should be as well — if you belonged to a union, they wouldn’t have been able to take your benefits away. That’s why corporate America has been trying to destroy the labor movement since its creation.

    And you are their happy idiot.

  61. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Really James, this is like shooting tethered ducks… Have you actually THOUGHT about the words coming out of your mouth? Have you?”

    Not really, JJ is a prisoner of dogma because at bottom he’s a Republican idealogue. To be fair we all prisoner of our beliefs to some degree, but he has a comfortable upper middle class life, he’s been an army officer but he’s never really had negotiate with or manage large numbers of people in the private sector, and probably thinks all you have to do is give orders and all these public employees are going to fall in line. I do think public employee unions are somewhat feather bedded and some of their benefits need to be pared back but this isn’t about this. Walker and the Republicans who were almost certainly elected by a minority of the entire electorate in WI are on some sort of ideological crusade to make WI a right to work state which even I can see is doomed to disaster when it’s handled as clumsily as it has been. Just as you can’t run a country without the consent of the governed you can’t run an organisation without the tacit or active support of the employees. I’ve seen it tried and bought the company out of chapter 11.

  62. tom p says:

    “I am a teacher. If they feel they are underpaid, no one is holding a gun to their head and telling them they can’t quit. If it is sooooo bad, quit and choose another profession!”

    OK PA, let us say for a moment that every teacher in WI decided that NO… HELL NOOO… they weren’t going to take it up the ass and chose to pick another profession… All at the same time…

    Would that be OK? Or would you side with JJ and call that an “illegal strike”?

    OOOOOORRRRR….. Would you say that the teachers of the great state of Wisconsin have a say in what they get paid for what work they perform?

    Which is it?

  63. mantis says:

    These teachers have packages averaging right at $100,000 which is a lot more than most people in Wisconsin make.

    The average teacher salary in Wisconsin is about $48k. Starting teachers make $25k. You’re full of it.

    The difference between me and other teachers is that I have worked in the private sector.

    Wow. You’re the only teacher who has worked in the private sector? Seems unlikely.

    I understand the concept of no more money.

    Do you understand the concept of the governor giving kickbacks to his friends to create a deficit, and then screwing workers to “fix” the problem he created for that exact purpose? I believe we can call that a “transfer of wealth.” But you guys like that sort of thing when the wealth is transferred from the poor and middle class to the rich, so I guess it’s not. How about the fact that he wants to impose all sorts of restrictions on unions that have nothing to do with the budget?

    Why should the taxpayer foot the bill when they have all taken pay cuts or worse, lost their jobs.

    All Wisconsin taxpayers have taken pay cuts or lost their jobs? Care to back that up?

    Oh yeah, union workers are taxpayers too.

  64. pateacher says:

    If they quit, that is their choice. But they can’t scream foul when they are not re-hired. If push came to shove, most of these teachers wouldn’t quit. There are teachers out there who do not support what the union thugs are doing.
    Adjustin pay scales are no different than what has been going on in the private sector. I have many friends who lost jobs and who have taken pay cuts in private sector jobs. For those that took pay cuts, they did not have to stay and some of them did not. However, when most of them realized that the condition of the economy was not on their side, most opted to “take it up the ***” as you so eloquently stated and continue doing the same job they had been doing, but doing it for less

  65. tom p says:

    “There are a lot of people in Wisconsin who have taken a 100% pay cut in the last couple of years…”

    Terrye…. 100% pay cut??? Do you know what that comes to??? 0 as in ZERO as in NO MONEY as in I AM STARVING AND HAVE NO PLACE TO LIVE as in…

    What world do you live in?

  66. Gerry W. says:

    While the Wisconsin governor and other governors have their reasons, I feel the public sector union is the last bastion of middle class as we knew it. With 2 billion cheap laborers in the world who want our jobs, we have seen the loss of jobs and/or loss of wages and benefits in the private sector. What I find interesting as republicans sit on their high horse, what we have seen is years of tax cuts to the rich while the middle class lost jobs, years of our money going to Iraq and years of neglect of our infrastructure. And now, after years of mismanagement, throwing our money away, and pandering to the rich and neglecting the middle class, there are those who want to kick the middle class some more. While I see the need for restraint, we see the total hypocrisy from the right and the total bashing of the middle class. There is more income inequality today since probably the 1920’s and we do not have the upward movement for most of the population. And all the right can say is that we need to take away your job and/or pay and benefits. And of course there is social security and medicare to take away too.

    And someone was mentioning on one of the threads that Chris Christie was advertising in Illinois to have jobs go to New Jersey. The only way the right creates jobs is by lowering wages, lowering taxes, or by taking jobs from one state to another. But in the world of globalization and 2 billion cheap laborers this is not working anymore. The republicans need to have a better plan than the same old trickle down as this scenario has played out time after time in my life and only has given disappointment to the middle class. You vote for a republican and they ignore you and our problems every time. It is also a disappointment that the democratic party cannot come up with better policies also.

  67. Pug says:

    Wisconsin has to compete with no income state taxes like Texas, Florida, Tennessee and low cost states. It’s really simple. Compete and grow or become upstate NY or CA.

    Ah yes, the conservatives beloved Texas model. It’s working so well that the state has a $27 billion budget deficit over the next two years and is facing massive cuts to education. But that’s OK. After all, Texas does rank 47th in education, so it’s not like they aren’t performing better than Arkansas and Mississippi.

    They may lag in education, but that’s OK because they rank very high in all the bad stuff. Pollution, teen pregnancy, citizens without health insurance, obesity, minimum wage jobs, violent crime . . . you know, stuff like that. Everyone should emulate Texas, the shining star of conservatism.

  68. tom p says:

    pateacher: nice way of avoiding the question, I repeat:

    OK PA, let us say for a moment that every teacher in WI decided that NO… HELL NOOO… they weren’t going to take it up the ass and chose to pick another profession… All at the same time…

    Would that be OK? Or would you side with JJ and call that an “illegal strike”?

    Yes or No?

  69. pateacher says:

    For those that would like to see what teachers make and their benefits, here is a link.

    http://www.postcrescent.com/article/99999999/APC0110/80221166

    Do a quick search to see what their salaries are and what their benefits are. It is certainly nothing to scoff at.

    tom p – pardon my exaggeration – not EACH and EVERY private sector employee has taken a paycut, lost a job or is paying more for his or her benefits, but there are many. Our economy is in the tank. States have no money. Wisconsin is not the only one. Where is the money going to come from? Oh yes, the taxpayers. Everyone in Wisconsin who feels the teachers are being screwed can pay more taxes to a special fund to go directly to the teachers. Isn’t that a win-win? Teachers get what they want and the people who feel they deserve it can pay for it!

  70. pateacher says:

    tom p-

    I have no problem with them quitting. If each and every one of them quit, so be it.
    NO – I don’t consider that an illegal strike. They just have to realize that if they quit, they won’t be re-hired. They won’t have their seniority and once again they can’t cry foul when they are out of work.

    And, of course, if they choose that path, they will have to pay the consequences in the court of public opinion. But so be it. It is their choice.

  71. tom p says:

    “There are teachers out there who do not support what the union thugs are doing.”

    HUUUHHHHHH?????? WHAT?????? WHAT THE F DO YOU KNOW OF UNION THUGS????

    When teachers complain of union thugs….

    I have to wonder… Have they ever faced a CORPORATE THUG????

    Truth: I have faced a Union thug or three in my time… I have seen buddies of mine get their ribs busted by chain weilding “thugs” (the real thing)… but I have also seen buddies of mine lose their entire futures to corporate thugs. (truth: I got f*cked up in an accident then got f*cked over by the insurance company)

    Tell me, What have you lost?

  72. tom p says:

    PA: asked and answered…. fair enuf, BUT…”Wisconsin is not the only one.”

    Except that WI had a $121 billion SURPLUS until Gov Walker got into office….

    All of a sudden collective bargaining rights are the problem…

    HUhhh? What???? Been working OK for years. NOW they are a problem????

    I do not get this right wing reasoning.

  73. tom p says:

    “I have no problem with them quitting. If each and every one of them quit, so be it.
    NO – I don’t consider that an illegal strike. They just have to realize that if they quit, they won’t be re-hired. ”

    Soooo…. if every teacher in AR suddenly quit (all twenty thousand of them) that is OK with you?

    Even I, pro liberal, pro union, slime ball marxist unionist asshole that I am…. can see the problem there.

    BUUUUTTTTTT…. the fact is, I do not see the solution being TAKING AWAY THEIR RIGHTS!

  74. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    Walker is awesome. All he is doing is saving this state. This is just the beginning:)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DksSPZTZES0

  75. tom p says:

    Yeah, GA…. the individual be damned, it is all about the “state”.

    Really, you libertarians make it way too easy….. When do you actually get power????

  76. tom p says:

    and by the way, I apologize for the “all caps” from time to time. I am a ludite. Sue me.

  77. wr says:

    Here’s the Tea Party in action — they hate and fear the government, then cheer when their thug of a governor breaks all contracts and threatens to send in the military to take over public sector jobs.

    A new win the struggle for Freedom!

  78. pateacher says:

    tom p – “Except that WI had a $121 billion SURPLUS until Gov Walker got into office….”

    How do explain this?

    State deficit forecast rises to $5.4 billion by mid-2011
    e-mail print By Steven Walters And Patrick Marley
    Nov. 20, 2008

    Madison – Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday that state government faces a budget deficit of nearly $5.4 billion through mid-2011, $400 million more than he estimated only days ago.

    Link to the article: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/34820159.html

  79. Brummagem Joe says:

    I see some announcement up that the WI Assembly is starting to wobble and this has only been going on for four days. There’s no way Walker and the Republicans are going to get away with this blatantly ideological move in WI. Texas maybe. WI no way. This isn’t a matter of sectarianism, it’s just an objective comment based on political reality in that state. You might just as well have said Pataki could have got away with it in NY. I’m afraid people like Pateacher who may be a teacher but is obviously blinded by partisanship are ignoring the political dynamics at work here. He appears in fact to be a self hating teacher…happy to enjoy the benefits that come from being protected by unions but for some reason being angry with them. Hard to understand but there it is.

  80. Brummagem Joe says:

    pateacher says:
    Friday, February 18, 2011 at 20:21

    This isn’t principally about pay and benefits so why are you pretending it is. One of my good friends is a superintendant of schools and I was talking to him about this a couple of days ago because we have the same budget problems in our state only the deficits are bigger and are heading into a big negotiation on pay and benefits. Basically the public employees unions are huffing and puffing but they know they are going to have to negotiate and make some concession or there are going to big layoffs. The governor is not proposing to abrogate their collective bargaining rights and if he did they’d be all over the capitol building as they are in Madison. This is a blatantly ideological move as you well know, he’s basically thrown gas on the fire and he’ll end up getting burned.

  81. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    ***Yeah, GA…. the individual be damned, it is all about the “state”.****Dude I would love to take care of everyone, and every single thing they need. Well not so much for the ungrateful, but I would help them out again just out of charity or spite.

    libertarian? I am a true christian believer that needs a lot of work, a fiscal conservative, (well for the government and all that, never been able to pull it off myself. ) A defence giant eagle, a social liberal in the good way(I understand what the back story of evolution is good for), pro choice in the good way(like give the baby one)and a member of the GOP, for the fact of their history of obtaining civil freedoms and nowadays for their originalist interpretations.

    which to you means I’m crazy:)

  82. Terrye says:

    Brummagen:

    They had to shut down for security reasons. It seems those teachers who just care about the kids have been making enough threats that there are actual concerns about the safety of the legislators.

    And why is this some power grab or whatever? The Governor is doing exactly what he campaigned on. And the unions act as if they are being shut down or destroyed or starved out when in fact they will still be there. No one is rendering them illegal…they just are not going to use collective bargaining for anything but pay in the future..in the face of the kind of problems the state is facing that is not an outrageous thing to ask them to do.

    In fact the unions have shipped people into the state from all over the country, they have threatened people, they have shut down the schools and they have in general acted as if the only reason the state government exists is to line their pockets.

    It is just ridiculous.

  83. Terrye says:

    wr:

    Oh please. Breaking contracts? And hate? Have you seen the signs out there? Talk about hateful the union goons are looking pretty damn nasty themselves.

    The Democrats have refused to even show up and do their jobs and you are talking about breaking contracts?

    Well you see this is the deal, for years the Democrats voted for more and more generous packages for these unions and the unions gave them money to get reelected and stay in office. Sort of a you scratch my back, I will scratch yours…the idea being that the taxpayer was a bottomless pit who could always be counted on to pick up the tab. Never mind if it was unsustainable, just buy your politician and put him to work on your behalf, screw everyone else.

    The problem is they lost the last election and the state is running out of money. Now any business in that situation would have to deal with the reality of reduced revenue…but these guys think that they are too special for reality. Oh no, they can just ignore reality, ignore the election and demand that they get everything they claim they have coming, whether the taxpayers have the money or not. This is exactly why so many Americans do not think that government workers should have unions, and when this is over I bet even less of them support unions for these people.

  84. Wiley Stoner says:

    Mantis, you are so wise. I’ll bet you consume 6 to 8 blunts daily. Cronic ofcourse. No dirt weed for you.

  85. Terrye says:

    tom:

    Yes, I know what a 100% pay cut comes to…it means they lost their jobs,,that is the whole point. They lost their jobs and here we have teachers whining about how badly treated they are when millions of Americans are unemployed.

  86. Terrye says:

    mantis:

    The idea that this governor gave kickbacks to his friends to create a deficit is ridiculous. There are only a handful of states that do not have a deficit right now in fact and many of them are facing the problem of public service unions and their pensions. This is not just something Walker came up with to pick on the sainted public service union in Wisconsin.

  87. Terrye says:

    And mantis, I am not full of it. We are not talking about starting teachers pay here. It is not as if every teacher is a starting teacher….We are talking about pay and benefits for teachers overall…and that can add up over time. So no, I am not the one who is full of it. These teachers are secure enough in their jobs that they can call in sick and go to the state house and march in the streets and demand more money and more power. Fine, but if most people did that they would be facing termination.

  88. wr says:

    Terrye — So please, describe the world you want to live in. The one where every worker is completely powerless, where salaries are cut at whim, where employees are forbidden to work together to negotiate decent treatment, where pay is cut for the middle class to give tax cuts to the rich, where employers, whether corporate or governmental, have all the power and workers have none — go ahead and tell me why this is a good world. Tell me why I should stand back and let it be simply because Republicans complain about taxes when taxes are at their lowest point in 60 years.

    Or better yet, give me a point in history that corresponds with your vision. Until this, I would have said the late 19th century, but it’s clear that robber-baron capitalism isn’t enough for people like you. You want to return to feudalism, where there are a handful of rich lords and many poor, dying peasants.

    The hilarious thing is — you’re one of the peasant.s You’re just so desperate to lick the bootheels of your betters you don’t care that they’re robbing you bllind.

    You deserve everything you get. Too bad the rest of us will get it too.

  89. Brett #2 says:

    I suspect that if the WI government placed some ads in The Chronicle or in the newspapers of a dozen state capitals looking for new teachers, they’d have more than they need to replace every wildcatting teacher now in state.

    Yeah, good luck with that. I can imagine it now-

    HELP WANTED! Teachers for Wisconsin. Minimal pay, uncertain benefits, limited union representation.

    It’s just the type of thing that makes you want to move to another state. And you wonder why teacher retention is so abysmal in this country?

  90. An Interested Party says:

    People like Terrye, pateacher, and G.A. are the useful idiots for others…

    “The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

    By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

    Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.”

    http://robertreich.org/post/3353591266

  91. Terrye says:

    An Interested Party:

    I am not the useful idiot here. I think maybe you are.

    This is not just about some Republican/Democrat divide. It is about unsustainable spending and it seems to me that a lot of people on the left are in denial about this. They feel no responsibility to come up with alternatives that are actually sustainable..if they had done that in Wisconsin and dozens of other states this would not be an issue.

    So rather than ignore the will of the people in Wisconsin, ignore the students who deserve an education, ignore the reality of the debt and the poor economy maybe you guys should come up with something other than Hitler signs and death threats.

  92. Terrye says:

    Brett:

    The pay these teachers get and the benefits they get in the new package are above the average for Wisconsin workers. It is not as if Walker is sending them down into a salt mine on a chain gang…in fact they can still use collective bargaining for pay and they will still pay less for their health care and their pensions than private sector employees pay right now.

    So yeah, I am sure there are people out there who would be more than happy to take these jobs.

  93. Terrye says:

    wr:

    I live in the real world, where people actually get laid off when the money runs out…where workers are expected to take cuts or face layoffs, and where the people doing the paying actually have to make a profit to stay in business rather than just pass a bill and demand a tax hike…

    And no one is saying these people are powerless, they just can not get everything they want all the time. That is the way it is in an adult world..so what world do you live in? Grade school?

  94. wr says:

    Terrye — Maybe you’ve kept your eyes closed the last ten years. Companies have to make a profit to stay in business? Have you seen what’s happened with corporate profits? They’ve skyrocketed. The stock market is higher than ever.

    But worker salaries are going down while corporate management pulls more and more money out of the companies to reward themselves and share holders. There has been a transfer of wealth away from the middle class to the super-rich, and this is the next step.

    “And no one is saying these people are powerless.” So tell me, if all of their collective bargaining rights are taken away — aside from asking for a raise up to the rate of inflation — exactly what power do these employees have? The right to quit? That’s freedom, all right. All power to the state, none to the workers.

    I hope you are a multi-millionaire, Terrye. Because otherwise you are so eager to destroy your own life, it’s too depressing to contemplate.

  95. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    Well it’s nice to thought of as a useful idiot for a change:)

    Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
    Vladimir Lenin

    Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.
    Vladimir Lenin

    Sometimes – history needs a push.
    Vladimir Lenin

    The history of all countries shows that the working class exclusively by its own effort is able to develop only trade-union consciousness.
    Vladimir Lenin

    The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses.
    Vladimir Lenin

    There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.
    Vladimir Lenin

    Without a revolutionary theory there cannot be a revolutionary movement.
    Vladimir Lenin

    A.I.P. Maybe you know something about my life long, I live here, state government that I missed.lol….

    My state is broke, Walker is calmly addressing one of the main problems, While the Great Obama has his apparatus busing in goons to protect one of his main voting bases and cash cows with almost full cover of the media.

    OH MY GOD, you should have seen the local coverage last night, I get 4 state channels. you?

  96. wr says:

    Uh-oh. Lenin said something about education. I don’t really understand it, but let’s keep our children ignorant and stupid just in case. — GA

  97. An Interested Party says:

    Terrye and G.A., thank you for making Reich’s point…

  98. shop teacher says:

    I have a simple question for all you against the teachers. If teachers have it so good..why aren’t you teaching?

    A. You don’t care about others.
    B. You don’t want to spend 5 years and $60,000 going to college to prepare to teach.
    C. You don’t want to work for such low pay.
    D. All of the above.

    I thought so.

  99. Antiunion says:

    The best thing thats gonna happen to this country is a broken Union.

    I live in VA, in a non-union area, and I consider myself lucky to never have had to deal with such greedy corrupt thugs. It will be nice to see the Unions broken. I support the WI Governor, and I am a democrat.