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Wisconsin Union Protests

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In case any of you are unaware there are massive protests in WI due to Gov Scott Walker's proposed change to "collective bargaining" rules.

It's beginning to look very Grecian over there.

The proposed cuts are absolutely reasonable- one of the biggest complaints is that Walker's proposed change would now allow teachers to not join the union, amongst other commonsense issues.

Updates from Scott Walker here:

http://twitter.com/GovWalker

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Apparently the Democrats have all fled the state to prevent the vote from occurring:

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets/market_news/article.jsp?content=D9LENT880

One of two things should happen:

1) only one Dem is needed present to make the voting valid. A republican can switch parties.

2) declare the Dems derelict of duty and hold new elections for their positions.

I would also like to see him go all Reagan v Air Traffic controllers on the teachers.

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They actually need a 3/5 quorum, which means they need 20 senators. 19 Republicans, one with a donkey on his lapel, will not suffice.

A common theme of the union-side is that Gov. Walker is abandoning democracy. Of course I don't need to explain why democracy is bad on this forum, but I still think there is some irony here that shows how confused the term, "democracy," is today. Reducing the power of the teacher's unions is exactly what many of us in Wisconsin elected the Republicans to do. We voted, the unions lost. Sounds democratic to me.

Sorry it was unclear. Those comments were tongue in cheek.

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Sorry it was unclear. Those comments were tongue in cheek.

Sorry I missed it. In the same vein, maybe Wisconsin could solve it's budget woes by borrowing a trillion dollars from the year 3000's budget.

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Sorry I missed it. In the same vein, maybe Wisconsin could solve it's budget woes by borrowing a trillion dollars from the year 3000's budget.

I watched Gone With The Wind again last week.. I'm reminded of the wounded soldiers playing cards.. "two deuces? I'll raise ya the moon" "hit me, I'll start a new war".

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If this bill can curtail public-sector unions, it will be a pretty important step for Wisconsin. A couple of decades ago, Wisconsin's welfare restrictions inspired Federal-level welfare reforms from a Republican congress, with Bill Clinton as President. If this bill passes and inspires other states to push for similar curtailment of union-power, it will be an important step. Of course, this is the opposite direction that Obama wanted to take things, by wanted to remove secret ballots for union-elections. An important battle in the ongoing war against unions (the unions have been losing for years).

Added:

To read an intelligent left-wing blogger explain why Wisconsin is so important, check out this American Prospect article.

Some Democrats are hoping that the public will see the Republican governor as having gone too far, and will push back. Some are even hoping this sparks a reactionary left-wing tea-party style grass-roots movement. I don't know about the average voter in Wisconsin, but here in Michigan, I hear a lot of people make disparaging remarks about public-sector employees feeding. The general attitude is "we're hurting, so what makes them think they should be immune". Hopefully, Wisconsin voters think this way too.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I need to look into this in more detail before I am willing to cmoe to a conclusion. It seems to me as if both sides are in the wrong. As an example, this is what I know so far. I am going to look into this fiscal debate in more detail in the next few hours. This is what I have grasped thus far, from reading news and hearing what some family friends that live in Wisconsin have had to say:

The governor is attempting to eliminate the ability of public workers (teachers, social workers, public defenders, many more) to collectively negotiate working conditions and benefits. He contends that it will save a substantial amount of money and that they are in a financial crisis because all of these public workers are far overpaid. The Fiscal Bureau (their version of the Congressional Budget Office) disagrees, as does 52% of the state. The Fiscal Bureau also said that Walker's fiscal policies created this "crisis."

They have protested since Tuesday as Republicans have attempted to ram the bill through, and on Thursday the Democratic senators walked out because it was the only way to stop the bill from passing. They fled the state because the Governor sent the State Patrol to force them to vote. The state patrol is run by the father of the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Majority Leader, who are brothers.

As far as Unions,for those that are not aware, Nathaniel Branden wrote a good piece on them in the Intellectual Ammo section of the Newsletter. It can be read here:

http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog/articles_essays/labor_unions.html

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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There are two issues involved:

  • how much public sector employees are paid (salary plus benefits, including retirement benefits)
  • whether public sector employees should have unions negotiating for them

If the governor can get rid of unions for public sector employees and make that stick, that will be a far more important change in the long run. Of course, the government cannot and should not stop people from forming associations. However, the government can claim immunity from having to negotiate with such unions, thus rendering them useless in their traditional roles. If employees still want to form mutual-aid and mutual-value associations, that's fine legally, and might actually offer some value to them.

In addition, I would like to see states enact laws that disallow state and municipal governments from providing any retirement guarantee that extends more than (say) 5 years into the future. It would be fine for states to say that they will contribute to some type of private pension fund, however the government entity should not be the one providing the guarantee as to the amount of money or the types of benefits their retirees will get. That assurance should come from the private investment firm(s) or the private insurance firms that are involved.

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There are two issues involved:

  • how much public sector employees are paid (salary plus benefits, including retirement benefits)
  • whether public sector employees should have unions negotiating for them

If the governor can get rid of unions for public sector employees and make that stick, that will be a far more important change in the long run. Of course, the government cannot and should not stop people from forming associations. However, the government can claim immunity from having to negotiate with such unions, thus rendering them useless in their traditional roles.

I would like to see more state governments refuse to bargain with unions and also eliminate closed shop laws that force workers to join unions. When it comes to collective bargaining, government entities are unique for a number of reasons. There are no market forces in place to hold governments accountable. It's quite easy for politicians to make long term committments for pay and benefits, while they move on to other careers and leave the taxpayers with a ticking timebomb. Unlike businesses, governments typically don't go bankrupt (although that may be the only solution for states like California and some cities). Without the possibility of bankruptcy, there really isn't any sort of market discipline to be exercised when pay and benefits are out of line.

As far as I'm concerned, what is happening in Wisconsin is a good thing and I hope the governor sticks to his guns so that this trend spreads to other states.

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It's quite easy for politicians to make long term committments for pay and benefits, while they move on to other careers and leave the taxpayers with a ticking timebomb.

This is exactly what happened in Wisconsin. Tommy Thompson was fiscally conservative for most of his time as governor. Then, in the last years of his last term, he pushed through massive spending increases in the form of state-run health insurance so he could boost his public health "cred". Bush the 2nd then put Thompson in his cabinet as health and human services secretary. Most recently Jim Doyle, Wisconsin's last governor and dedicated spendthrift, decided not to run again just before these budget issues blew up.

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There was from a union protest in Olympia, Washington. The signs say it all.

My favorites are "human rights not corporate rights", "Egypt, help Wisconsin", and "I like [insert labor law here]. I don't like billionaires." :dough:

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"Obama where are you? I have shoes!" lol what? Did I miss something?

"If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States." - Barack Obama, 2007. Here's America's response:

http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/ftyao/if_american_workers_are_being_denied_their_right/

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And now this.... union dufus has a Freudian slip at about 28 seconds in:

I could say something about the mentality of these folks being revealed, how collectivist they are, etc., etc.... but it speaks for itself.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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‎"Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats. The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved the bill a short time later."

The only ones at fault here are those who abdicate their responsibilities to the people that hired them. They should have stayed and found a compromise...

When Collective Bargaining was passed In 1971, the State's Attorney General stated that Collective Bargaining is not a fiscal issue, it is a labor issue. This is the law, and the precedent, for what the Senate did.

Since the Democrats decided not to debate this issue in the Senate the Republicans who were elected did what they needed to do to get the state's business done....and that was to remove all fiscal parts from the bill in order to pass it.

Now that the issue is dead will the Democrats return to the State? Their districts are all ready doing recall actions on them (Democrats) according to the people in Wisconsin I know.

This, I believe, is a good conclusion to this, overall, since the main issue has been dealt with. Unfortunately there was a good deal of funky stuff in these bills through all of this, one of the Objectivists in chat mentioned an a authorization to sell some power-plants Koch industries for pennies on the dollar with no bidding process and some other things, he linked this bill for us: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/2011-13%20Budget/2011_03_09%20Modification%20to%20SS%20SB%2011_AB%2011.pdf Don't have time to read it right this second miyself.

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Hallelujah!

The only downside is some people claim this will discredit the rationale for the collective bargaining reform.... it was advanced as a way to save the state money and thus should have been left in the budget bill. The answer to this is that it will, in the long term do just that but doesn't affect the current budget--it's a statutory change not a change to the budget.

edit: added clarifications without which this post would have been incoherent. (Maybe it still is, as I am trying to describe someone else's argument.)

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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