Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Governor Walker shows the way

Governor Walker is the Republican Governor of Wisconsin.  Like many other Republicans, he has a visceral hatred of unions and in particular the notion that disputes between employers and workers should be settled by collective bargaining, a form of finding a compromise between two desires, such as the desire of an employer to hire workers for the smallest possible pay to increase his profit and the desire of workers for a standard of living better than what they have.  He has shown all of us how to screw the public employee unions.
  1. Get elected with a majority in the State legislature.
  2. Grant a generous tax reduction to wealthy taxpayers, with small reductions to those with less income.
  3. Show that there now is a deficit in the State's budget.  There isn't enough income to pay for all the services.
  4. Go after the public employee unions.  Tell them they'll have to give up their recent salary increases and accept reduced pensions to reduce the State deficit.  Tell them they'll also have to give up collective bargaining, the right to strike, and the deduction for union dues from their paychecks.
It's a diabolical scheme.  Even President Nixon wouldn't have dared trying to get away with something like that.  Today it may work.  Public employee unions have been demonized in the news media and in particular in the speeches of many public officials.  No more than 12 percent of the working population belongs to a union these days.  The biggest unions are the public employee unions.

Some Republicans (e.g., Karl Rove) like this approach to electoral politics.  The unions are mostly strong supporters of the Democratic Party.  Weaken or destroy the unions and the Democrats will lack an important resource.

Non-partisan supporters of Governor Walker's ploy may argue that public employees shouldn't be allowed to strike anyway.  Government has a monopoly on the services it provides.  If the services are stopped because of a strike, the public can't choose another provider.  Public employees have [or should have] benefits not enjoyed by workers in private industry, such as better pay, better working conditions, and job security.  This non-partisan argument ignores the point that one reason public employees have these benefits is the effectiveness of their union in negotiating with government agencies.

Governor Walker has shown the way.  Republican Governors in other States are prepared to follow his lead.  I hope that the public recognizes this abominable scheme for what it is and rise up in support of the rights of public employees.


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