Linswritings

Public Employees’ union bill in Madison, WI being held hostage by Democrats

Posted on: February 17, 2011

Breaking news from Madison, WI – all the Democrat legislators are not showing up for a vote on a bill that would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. They were ordered to attend the vote but have not showed up today. The Republicans are pushing this bill proposed by GOP Governor, Scott Walker.

Here is what the bill would do: It would eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin. The legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage. Governor Walker calls this “modest” compared with those in the private sector. Most health insurance rates have risen by at least 12 percent this year. The bill would save the state $30 million by July 1 and $300 million over the next two years. Wisconsin is looking at a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

In an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ, President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation in Madison and acknowledged the need for budget cuts. But, he said, pushing public employees away from the bargaining table “seems like more of an assault on unions.” My opinion is that public employees should not be part of a union because they serve the community and should be responsive to the community and not to a union.

While other states have proposed bills curtailing labor rights, Wisconsin’s measure is the most aggressive anti-union move yet to solve state budget problems. It would end collective bargaining for state, county and local workers, except for police, firefighters and the state patrol. Again, I don’t agree with police, firefighters and state patrol being part of a collective bargaining agreement. They are essential employees who need to be there in order to keep our states safe. Do you remember the air traffic controllers who were unionized and walked out? President Reagan fired them all and put in non-union employees. They too are essential for public safety and should not be run by unions.

In addition, what these employees fail to understand is that this bill still allows unions to represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.

In exchange for bearing more costs and losing bargaining leverage, public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure does not pass.

So where are the Democrats in this state? According to the article, the Democrats don’t have enough votes to stop this bill. But they need to “man-up” and do the right thing for their state.

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