George Will visits the wreckage-strewn battlefield where Wisconsin progressives launched their desperate counter-attack against the forces of reform, and finds a certain grim satisfaction there. To refresh people’s memories: Wisconsin progressives’ refusal to accept the widespread repudiation of the Democratic party in Wisconsin in 2010 (loss of the state legislature, two Congressional seats lost, progressive icon US Senator Russ Feingold handily if not contemptuously defeated by Ron Johnson, loss of the executive branch) led them to desperate attempts to retroactively rewrite reality to make The Bad Thing never happen. While they (and their Big Labor manipulators) were able to force Wisconsin Democrats to go along with a hapless (and futile) fight over collective bargaining reform, attempts to create change via popular outrage failed, largely because Wisconsin progressives failed to create any actual permanent outrage outside of their rather narrow sub-demographics*. Reform measures thus passed, much to the impotent rage of its enemies.
We’ll have George take it from here:
Having failed to prevent enactment of the Walker agenda voters had endorsed, unions and their progressive allies tried to recall six Republican senators. If three had been recalled, Democrats would have controlled the Senate, and other governors and state legislators would have been warned not to challenge unions. Fueled by many millions of dollars from national unions and sympathizers, progressives proved, redundantly, the limited utility of money when backing a bankrupt agenda: Only two Republicans were recalled — one was in a heavily Democratic district, the other is a married man playing house with a young girlfriend. Progressives also failed to defeat a Supreme Court justice.
An especially vociferous progressive group calls itself “We Are Wisconsin.” Evidently not.
There is a striking (if you’ll pardon the pun) dichotomy taking shape in the Wisconsin public school system right now, and it’s one that should hardly be surprising to anybody who was paying attention to this spring’s labor union reform struggles. Said dichotomy is as follows:
School districts that were able to institute Scott Walker’s & the GOP’s reforms to collective bargaining procedures have generally been able to balance their school budgets for the year without layoffs. In fact, at least one district that was on the verge of instituting layoffs will be able to avoid that.
School districts that were not able to institute those reforms – for whatever reasons – will not be avoiding layoffs.
The Weekly Standard article linked to above lists Milwaukee (354 teachers fired) and Kenosha (212 teachers to be laid off). The first example is particularly noteworthy because: a), Milwaukee had had to fire an additional 482 teachers in 2010; and b), the Milwaukee school board estimates that it could rehire at least 200 of their teachers if the union simply agreed to instituting employee contributions to their own pensions (5.8%). The union (in the form of its president Bob Peterson*) refused, of course. They’re rather defensive about it, too – which is nice; I always like to see admissions of shame and remorse, even if it’s just being restricted to subconscious attitudes. Continue reading Wisconsin labor union reform: saving jobs, money, schools.
Much like similar laws passed in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, the legislation will go after public sector union abuse of collective bargaining over health care. Let me refresh people about why that’s important: it’s important because the public perception of benefits packages has traditionally been that they are somehow fundamentally different than wages; this despite the fact that a person who used to have, say, $5,000/year’s worth of health care but now has $10,000/year has effectively gotten a $5,000 raise. But since it’s not seen as a raise, many public sector unions have had free rein in effectively bargaining for more and more benefits every year, in lieu of technical raises. Which is what this legislation addresses:
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
Under the legislation, mayors and other local officials would be given unfettered authority to set copayments and deductibles for their employees, after the 30-day discussion period with unions. Only the share of premiums paid by employees would remain on the health care bargaining table.
The International Association of Fire Fighters’ Big Labor bosses have decided to, ah, reallocate their resources in advance of 2012:
As newly elected Republican state legislatures aggressively push a slew of anti-union measures, the International Association of Fire Fighters is freezing its federal political spending and shifting all resources toward its beleaguered state and local colleagues.
It’s kind of a shame that they’re not going to urinate away another fifteen million in the next national election – although possibly the ordinary, decent fire fighters who get stuck with the bill being run up on the Democrats’ behalf might find this to be a distinction without a difference. For my own part, I’d rather have whatever electoral wars that are going to take place next year take place in the state legislature, and not Congress. Aside from everything else, it shows who’s actually winning in the first place.
State Representative Daryl Metcalfe is one of the state legislators behind the Pennsylvania Open Workforce Initiative, which is a set of four bills designed to essentially transform Pennsyvlania into a Right-to-Work state (you can see a summary of the bills here). Rep. Metcalfe has been pushing for this elementary bit of labor union reform for some time; only usually not when both the governorship and both houses of the state legislature were decisively controlled by Republicans. We talked for a bit on the Initiative:
The high costs involved with Big Labor – particularly in the public sector – means that labor union reform is a hot topic on the state level right now. I encourage readers to get involved in the issue. Certainly the opposition is doing precisely that…