FROM THE CAP TIMES, Madison, Wisconsin:
"First he sent a letter to state workers, then he sent one to all of Wisconsin’s teachers.
The message to both groups from Gov. Scott Walker was the same: Hey, I’m just doing what needs to be done to get our state out of this economic mess we’re in and I’m sure you can understand.
No, they can’t.
The letter to the teachers, for instance, outlined the state’s budget problems -- $137 million in the hole this fiscal year, $3.6 billion short for the next biennium, which begins on July 1.
The governor then 'reasons' that’s why teachers need to start paying half of their pension contributions -- about 5.8 percent of their paycheck -- and double their 6 percent share of health insurance premiums to 12 percent, also from their paychecks.
That’s all aimed at cutting the state’s costs by about $300 million over the next two years, a start at whittling down the state’s projected shortfall.
That, at least, makes a little sense, but what comes next doesn’t and is why so many of Wisconsin’s public employees are convinced that it isn’t about budget problems at all, but everything to do with starting a process to do away with unions in Wisconsin, the primary goal of the big business lobby that bankrolled this governor’s election.
After outlining why these givebacks from the employees need to occur, the governor then proceeds to 'explain' that this is why the unions will be prohibited from bargaining anything other than wages and that any wage increase will be capped at in increase in the Consumer Price Index.
Then, he adds, 'Collective bargaining units will have to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers will be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units will not be required to pay dues.'
What, pray tell, has any of that got to do with fixing Wisconsin’s budget mess?
The answer, of course, is nothing. But it has everything to do with smashing the unions that over decades of tears and sweat have achieved at least a modicum of dignity for America’s working people -- unionized or not. Walker would trash a proud American labor history and not gain one cent for the taxpayers he purportedly is representing. Instead, he would signal to the corporate interests of the state that, hey, if government can do away with these pesky unions, so can you.
What zealots like Walker forget is that poor working people contribute very little to the economy. Workers who have to scrape to pay their household debts have no money to spend at the local restaurant, at the bowling alleys or the movies. They can’t afford vacations in northern Wisconsin or send kids to dancing lessons and sports camps.
The small business people who provide these services wind up getting hurt themselves. Waitresses and kitchen helpers lose jobs. Businesses that rely on discretionary expenditures close down.
Workers who make meager wages pay few income taxes. When they don’t have money to spend, they also pay little in sales taxes. It’s a never-ending cycle that truly becomes a race to the bottom.
This has never been the Wisconsin way, through good times or bad. Yes, like workers are being asked today, they have historically made concessions to help get through the bad times. Most public workers would agree to do that now.
But taking away their rights to stand up for themselves by strangling their one lifeline to a better world not only for them but for countless others is not only cruel, but outright dumb."
h/t TO COMMENTER BB IDAHO FOR THIS LINK:
A new poll shows Wisconsinites – by a 2 to 1 margin – say Governor Scott Walker’s attacks on worker rights have gone too far.
From the poll:
Building a Stronger Wisconsin contracted with The Shop Consulting, Inc. to conduct a statewide poll regarding Governor Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to public employee benefits and collective bargaining rights. The poll consisted of a 600 response survey and was conducted on the evening of Wednesday, February 16th.
By a 2 to 1 margin, voters across that state are either strongly opposed to Walker’s proposal or think that it goes too far.
“There is no way to look at the results of this poll and not be convinced that voters from all walks of life, all ages and all across Wisconsin think Governor Walker has gone too far in both how much he expects public employees to contribute for their benefits and especially in proposing to eliminate their collective bargaining rights,” explained Randy Nash, Executive Director, Building a Stronger Wisconsin.
The results show that while there is some support for increasing public employee contributions to pay for health care and retirement, those who oppose the proposal totally and those who think it has gone too far outnumber the supporters of the proposal almost 2-1.
When it comes to removing the ability to collectively bargain those opposing this change are even more solidly opposed with 65% opposing this portion of the proposal to only 31.9 percent supporting. Nearly 75% of those surveyed had no public employees in their household.