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I have watched and listened in stunned silence as the reports flow out of the events surrounding the Wisconsin Legislature’s attempts to bring its state budget deficit under control. For those of you living on Mars, Wisconsin’s new Governor ran on a platform that promised to balance the budget without raising taxes and he was elected handily. To carry out these campaign promises (I know, we aren’t used to that kind of promise keeping here in California Governor Brown), the Governor has floated a proposal that is evidently supported by both houses of the state legislature that would 1) eliminate some collective bargaining rights, 2) increase the employee portion of their pension by 5%, and 3) increase the employee contribution for health care by 12.5%. Both of these added employee contribution requirements would still be less than employees working for private companies are required to pay.
Facing certain passage of this bill in both houses, Democratic members of the legislature took action – they left the state. Here is where things get funny. According to Democrat State Senator Jon Erpenbach “we will return when the democratic process is restored to Wisconsin.” I had to read that a couple of times myself to make sure that I understood “the words coming out of his mouth.” Let’s see if I have this straight, right now with the Democrats cowering in a Chicago hotel so that there will be NO vote and NO exercise of the democratic process that makes the Republicans seeking a vote “undemocratic?” That gives me brain freeze. Evidently the Democrats think that this nasty voting thing is undemocratic. Silly me, I thought VOTING was the democratic method – had I known that RUNNING AWAY was actually more democratic it would have saved me from all of the pesky trips to the ballot box.
It then gets even funnier. In violation of their contractual obligations and perhaps in violation of Wisconsin law, teachers have been “calling in sick” in such record numbers that Madison and Milwaukee have had to shut down a large percentage of their schools. These teachers have lost such touch with reality that some of them have actually taken students along with them to protest as part of the “educational experience.” Other public employees have similarly played hookey from work to “protest” the proposed law in violation of their contracts. Wait, that’s not the best part – these illegal strikes have been coordinated by the Democratic National Convention and Obama’s Organizing for America have helped to coordinate these illegal and immoral actions by helping to coordinate the strikes, hire bussesto transport union workers to Madison to protest and building phone banks to organize support for the strikes and opposition to the proposed legislation. http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0211/DNC_playing_role_in_Wisconsin_protests.html?showall
What I find most appalling is the arrogance of the Democrats and unions who are clearly saying that they are “right” and that the majority of Wisconsin voters just got it wrong when they elected fiscally conservative Republicans. The funniest broadcast moment of all happened when the CNN anchor genuinely asked if the protestors were representative of the views of ALL of Wisconsin’s citizens. Yeah, that’s it, the 58 Republican members of the assembly and the 19 state senators took power through secret action and, along with the Governor, are the only 77 Wisconsinites in favor of dialing back public employee benefits.
Rather to engage in meaningful dialogue, the unions have likened Wisconsin’s new governor to Hitler, called his legislation a form of rape and other similar scare tactics. To create the appearance of broad support, Union activists have actually recruited protest participants from union members in outlying states. Ironically this atmosphere of violence and hate is always decried by the left as the exclusive domain of the right. Well, the unions have sure dispelled that myth.
I really hope that the lunacy of all of this causes a backlash heard ’round the country. I hope that unions in other states pick up the placards and start to preemptivelyprotest wage and benefit roll backs. At a time when the private sector has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, when people have had to take any work that they can get just to make ends meet I hope that folks can see the selfishness and myopia of Union Bosses whose primary goal is to line their own pockets with ill gotten tax payer dollars. I hope that the backlash from this protest and the ill advised actions of Wisconsin’s Democratic party is the first step towards bringing the crippling impact of public employee union power into balance with the rest of the workforce.
Is Governor Walker’s Proposal
the “End” of Collective Bargaining
A number of the comments to this story have alleged that I am sweeping the impact that the proposed legislation will have on the collective bargaining process under the table. Of course I correctly highlighted this impact in the very first paragraph of the post – and accurately portrayed those impacts as well “the Governor [Walker] has floated a proposal that is evidently supported by both houses of the state legislature that would 1) eliminate some collective bargaining rights . . ..” The posters have either explicitly stated that the legislation WILL end collective bargaining rights or clearly implied that conclusion. So what is the truth?
Interestingly none of the major news sources have provided any real analysis of the real impact the proposed legislation would have on the collective bargaining process – I have to go to the source itself and review the language of the proposed legislation. First, NOTHING in the proposed legislation would impact the collective bargaining rights of any private unions in any way – its impact is limited solely to PUBLIC unions. Second, the proposed legislation would remove workers’ rights, in place since a 1959 court decision, to negotiate over pensions and health insurance, both of which are being cut. Workers would be allowed to continue bargaining over wages. The bill means state workers will have to pay half their pension costs and at least 12.6% of their healthcare coverage. The legislation also weakens the unions by dictating elections and changing rules on collecting union dues. These changes are a far cry from the claims of total repeal of collective bargaining.
I have searched far and wide for any rationale for the need for public unions. The case law emerging from the union case from the first 50 years of the past century focused on the tactics of intimidation and harassment from management to employees in the private sector. Physical battles and physical intimidation were common and created something far less than a level playing field. These same arguments simply don’t apply to public unions and certainly not in today’s world. Instead we have created behemoths of highly funded lobby groups that can dump millions of dollars into state and local campaigns to have a huge and often decisive impact on those elections. Dues are collected virtually involuntarily and are taken directly out of a members paycheck. 90+ percent of the dues collected go directly into lobbying efforts with less than 5% spent on actual wage and benefit discussions.
Public sector salaries have grown virtually unchecked for the past several decades without any real counterpressure. Now that people are waking up to the fact that their future is being mortgaged because of these spiraling salaries, benefits and pensions, these union thugs are responding like cornered animals. The truth is that they are not cornered animals but simply children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
For an excellent analysis of all of these issues please see CNN (I can’t believe they actually published something good) at: http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/02/21/avlon.wisconsin.unions/index.html?hpt=T2
Fraudulent Phone Call From Electronic “Fish Wrap” Editor of ‘Buffalo Beast’ Comes Up Empty
Until today you have probably never heard of an “online only” Buffalo publication called the “Buffalo Beast” or its hapless editor Ian Murphy and for good reason – the “Beast” folded up its print tent two years ago when it failed to find its place in the not very crowded Buffalo, New York media marketplace. Today the “Beast” got some minor coverage because of a stunt pulled by its editor the hapless and evidently shameless Ian Murphy that would have been a multiple felony had he done the same thing in California. Mr. Murphy called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker posing as a Walker supporting political activist David Koch and tried every dirty trick in the book to mislead Governor Walker into making disparaging remarks or to get the Governor to tip his hand as to strategy – to Governor Walker’s credit he is s straight shooter and did not take the bait. I will admit that the left is partially justified in its laughter and finger pointing over the incident – the Governor took the call and evidently was never aware that he was talking to an imposter. During a critical time like the one the State of Wisconsin is going through right now, a statewide elected official might want to do a tad more call screening and authentication than occurred today.
The substance of the phone call ended up much less interesting than desired by scumbag Murphy whose repeated baiting of the Governor went unrewarded. First, Mr. Murphy tried to bait the Governor into talking about “planting” troublemakers among the protestors, an action the Governor said he did not consider and did not feel was necessary because of the “overwhelming support” of the Wisconsin citizenry. Scumbag Murphy then made a horribly sexist and offensive remark calling MSNBC reporter Mika Brzezinski “a real piece of ass.” The Governor sat in silence refusing to respond in any way to the comment. Still fraudulently posing as Mr. Koch, supposed editor Murphy then asks the Governor to reveal his endgame strategy. The Governor does discuss efforts to get the Democrats to return to the state (and I admit to cringing hearing his naivete in assuming the caller is who he says he was without authentication), but all of the tactics discussed by the Governor were all perfectly legal and appropriate. The call ends with the scumbag fraud Murphy inviting the Governor out to California to celebrate after passage of the legislation to which the governor makes a non-committal response. Given the multiple ways the phone call could have gone wrong or disclosed “politics as usual” dirty tactics, I walked away from listening to the phone call impressed with the integrity of the Governor and his real belief in the cause.
Now lets look at Mr. Murphy’s actions. He calls the Governors office and lies saying that he is someone he is not. In California that would be a felony, unfortunately it is ambiguous in both Wisconsin and New York as to whether this conduct constitutes as crime. Scumbag Murphy then RECORDS the conversation without the knowledge or permission of the Governor. Again, in California this would be a felony but this questionable act is not a crime in either Wisconsin or New York. Mr. Murphy then makes sexist and horrible offensive remarks about an MSNBC reporter. Had a Fox reporter made those same comments, regardless of the reason, the media throughout the country would be skewering them on a regular basis. Next, under false pretenses scumbag Murphy tries to get the Governor to reveal his strategy.
The little press that this action has received to date all deals with “fooling” the Governor – as if it is perfectly appropriate for a reporter to play what amounts to a practical joke on a Governor during a state of crisis. Not a single story points out the horrible ethics, the sexist and offensive language and justify the dirty tricks as if just and appropriate when trying to uncover a non-existent right wing Wisconsin conspiracy. Not a single report talks about the fact that the Governor’s responses were all appropriate and shows his belief in the cause and his refusal to engage in similar “dirty tricks.”