Proposed Bill Threatens Wisconsin Unions

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Teachers and other state workers in Wisconsin are rallying at the State Capitol in Madison this week over a bill that would remove the unions' rights to collectively bargain over health care and pension benefits. The bill, proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker, would also mean a roughly eight percent wage cut for 176,000 government workers, who would have to pay more for health care and pension contributions. Republicans hold the majority in both the state's Senate and Assembly — but it is yet unclear whether Walker will be able to secure the vote. Wisconsin was the first state to write collective bargaining laws for state employees and is the birthplace of the national union for non-federal public employees.

Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio's state capitol reporter joins us. He says that Republicans are caught between supporting their new governor and fear that their union-friendly constituents could call for recall elections in less than a year.

Guests:

Shawn Johnson

Produced by:

Kateri A. Jochum

Comments [3]

amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Charles - You state: The fact is

"that this maeasure applies only to public employees, who have always enjoyed special bargaining power when the opposing side's negotiators were the state government."

So the fact is that it DOES end collective bargaining for unionized public sector workers. I'm sure that such anti-union public sector measures put the rest of the incredibly shrinking private sector unions at ease.

Secondly, Gov. Walker's statement of National Guard readiness shows that he is impolitic with poor communication skills at best if it is the actual case that he did not answer the question in a manner that best expressed his views. It seems, that he needs to work on these skills by not using "inflammatory" language when discussing extremely sensitive matters.

Finally, thank you for your right wing analysis of the "The Takeaway's lax reporting and left-wing bias." Glad to know you're tracking what you don't accept or respect.

Feb. 17 2011 11:39 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

The bill to end collective bargaining for the unionized public sector workers by Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans is about much more than budget cuts - since there are other ways to get to the same point vis-a-vis public sector worker compensation - and is fueled largely by anti-union ("busting") ideology pervasive amongst American right wingers.

What Walker et al. are doing is trying to establish "Right to Work" laws, like those in much of the South, that gut union strength and allow employers almost total control over hiring, firing, wage determination. Most importantly, anti-union busting goes a long way towards achieving the American right wing dream of a limited (in some cases, nonexistent) safety net that they term "socialist."

Make no mistake, unions aren't perfect, sometimes excessive, hard to work with, led by corrupt officials, etc., but frankly their job is to help their members, for which they take flak. Why is it that when corporations, governments, employers are helping themselves to whtever they can at the cost of employees, it is understood and often respected, but when unions do it - whether public or private sector - it's considered a travesty?

Call what Gov. Walker and other state governments are doing what it is: Not just anti-union practices, but anti-worker.

Feb. 17 2011 11:22 AM
Charles

This was a good example of The Takeaway's lax reporting and left-wing bias.

Let's review.

Unlike the more careful wording of this webpage, Celeste Headlee stated several times that the Republican-sponsored legislation would somehow end all collective bargaining in Wisconsin. She seemed to fail to grasp the fact that this maeasure applies only to public employees, who have always enjoyed special bargaining power when the opposing side's negotiators were the state government. When many in state government rely on the unions' political support.

The only pro-Republican voice I heard on the air was the voice of Governor Walker, which The Takeaway's producers used to attempt to ridicule him over the question that the Governor was asked about emergency functions, when he mentioned use of the Wisconsin National Guard if needed. (It had been a loaded question, designed to elicit the exact response that pro-union activists wanted, which was to demonize the Governor and needlessly frighten the pulic. The Takeaway has now eagerly played along with that artifice.)

At the same time, we heard from a school teacher, and other pro-union activists complaining about the measure and instructing The Takeaway's audience that the Wisconsin Republicans are somehow extremists, if not dangerous extremists. Note the inflammatory comparsion to "Egypt."

Feb. 17 2011 11:13 AM

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