Wisconsin: Unions, Education and the Budget

Monday, February 28, 2011

Demonstrators protest in the capitol rotunda after they were given a deadline by the police to leave the building on February 27, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Over 70,000 people gathered in front of the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday — the largest crowd since the protests began — to continue decrying Governor Scott Walker's efforts to limit state laborers' collective bargaining rights. Part of the outcry has been that the changes were included in the state's budget bill. It seems highly likely that public workers will have to concede some ground on how much they contribute to pension benefits and health insurance premiums. But what economic effect would those cuts and the collective bargaining changes actually have on the budget or the state economy?

Joining The Takeaway are Shawn Johnson, State Capitol reporter from Wisconsin Public Radio with an update from Madison, and Robert Costrell, professor of education reform and economics at the University of Arkansas and other of a Wall Street Journal op-ed on collective bargaining, who will analyze how Milwaukee's education budget affects the state's economy.


Robert Costrell and Shawn Johnson

Produced by:

Valerie Lapinski

Comments [2]

Diana in NYC from NYC

Hendrik Hertzberg 's “Talk of the Town” piece in this week's New Yorker points out that no one can find anything in Wisc. Gov. Walker's campaign speeches about his plan to go after union benefits, not to mention collective bargaining. He really can't claim that mandate.

Mar. 01 2011 08:51 AM
RWC from boston

The discussion about collective bargaining being the big problem with state budgets is not being completely addressed. When the professor tried to explain the difference between bargaining for wages and for benefits, he was rushed off the air.

Bargaining does not happen in a vacuum, and teachers and other unions have repeatedly taken freezes and cuts in wages, in order to hold on to benefits. The cities and states have often been the ones to propose this arrangements and have "bargained" with the unions for it. If those benefits costs are now going up, it's the cities and states who are to blame, not the workers.

No one is also addressing that state workers do not pay into social security--they forfeit that entire part of what everyone else gets as a part of their retirement package.

If you want to take away bargaining and benefits, then give the retroactive raises the workers have been bargained away and pay back all of the social security benefits that have been refused by the current system.

These facts are never fully discussed, if at all.

Feb. 28 2011 09:51 AM

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