March 11, 2011

Wrapping up Wisconsin

Marc Comtois

Now that it's official, here's what they did in Wisconsin regarding public employee unions.
1) "...the bill meant that the state wouldn't have to lay off public employees."
2) "...[took] away the ability of unions to bargain over pensions and health care." Just like the Federal Government employees. This was an attempt to gain flexibility not provided by 3-year (or more) contracts. Health care and pension costs have climbed faster than contracts make accommodation for.
3) "...limit pay raises, which can still be negotiated by unions, to inflation." Of course, if the cap in a collectively bargained agreement is set by CPI/inflation, what's the point in collectively bargaining?
4) "...requires public-employee union members to contribute 5.8% of their pay to pensions". Rhode Island workers would dream of that number.
5) " 12.6% of health-care premiums out of their wages, up from 6% on average". Again.
6) "...eliminates automatic collection of dues by the state". That's a hit to organized union leadership.
7) "...requires each public union in the state to get recertified every year by vote." Again.

As William Jacobsen points out, the rubber will hit the road when:

...tens of thousands of Wisconsin public employee union members...will have the choice for the first time in memory of deciding whether to join the union and pay the union dues, which have been estimated in the $700-1000 per year range.

The public employees will have to make a choice, take a pay increase or pay the union.

I think we know how that vote will turn out, and whether the employees -- once given a choice -- will buy what the unions are selling.

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Who wouldn't want a borderline-illiterate Pat Crowley representing them professionally? It's not like a highly trained and experienced lawyer or agent could possibly do any better than these union leaders, whose qualifications often include multiple arrests and associates degrees in labor organization. Your state-mandated ~$700-1000/year goes to good use - you wouldn't want him screaming at your supervisors on your behalf in anything but the finest attire. And it's difficult operating a bullhorn with an unsatisfied appetite after second-rate filet mignon.

Posted by: Dan at March 11, 2011 6:06 PM

Did they get the money they needed to balance the budget. That was what Walker and crew said it was all about. Do conservatives really feel good about the way this was done.

Posted by: Triplerichard at March 11, 2011 6:52 PM

The Crowleys and Walshes aren't the ones who lose their jobs in these austerity moves.
Thw quation is did Walker save jobs going this route?Or was he exaggerating the need for layoffs to get his bill through?I really don't know what with all the sound and fury exhibited over this.
Federal employees have union protections against unfair labor practices and management misconduct,but no real collective bargaining.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 12, 2011 6:11 AM

Joe, Wisconsin has the same problems that we have, so you should know it's no bluff and that yes, there is a serious need for layoffs to balance the budget.

Posted by: BobN at March 12, 2011 7:36 AM

"...will have the choice for the first time in memory of deciding whether to join the union and pay the union dues"

It's the end of the world. The entire middle class and every working man on the planet are in imminent danger of vanishing in a puff off the face of the earth.

Posted by: Monique at March 12, 2011 7:50 AM

... you just wait. Gonna happen any minute now ...

Posted by: Monique at March 12, 2011 7:52 AM

"The Crowleys and Walshes aren't the ones who lose their jobs in these austerity moves."

Lose their jobs? No. But I can tell you exactly what happens because I live in a right-to-work state and work in a voluntary union workplace.

The lazy, the incompetent, and the hard-core believers in the cause continue to join their now-voluntary unions, with dues significantly reduced to reflect the significantly reduced salaries of union leadership. Most people politely decline to join the unions and continue showing up to work just like any other workers. Union salaries mirror non-union salaries. Non-union workers either represent themselves or have their attorneys or agents represent them in conflicts with management, which seem to happen much less frequently for some reason. Union workers are represented by their now somewhat humbled union reps.

The taxpayers are happy. The non-union workers are happy. The union workers complain but are ultimately happy that they get to live in their union-world, read their union newsletters, gripe to a union rep who has to listen to them, file a frivolous grievance anytime their boss looks at them funny, and go to their $20/person union hot dog lunches to feel like they are a part of some grand social movement. They never get promoted, but they also never get fired on 10 hours of work per week, which is what they really want in the end. Everyone's happy except union leadership who have to greet at Walmart part-time instead of making $100k/year being professional insult comics.

Posted by: Dan at March 12, 2011 8:17 AM

Seems as though the $1,000 savings from #6-Union Dues will come awfully close to paying for the workers #4-Pensions and #5-Health Care costs.

Sounds like fair wash to me.

Posted by: dave at March 12, 2011 8:51 AM
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