Aware that there would be a loud outcry if he proposed legislation to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights, Walker inserted a provision in his budget stripping workers of their right to bargain. By including it in the budget, he bypassed all hearings or opportunity for public comment, and is pushing the Wisconsin legislature to vote on it as early as next week.
Under Walker’s immediate plan, all collective bargaining rights would be removed for state and local public employees starting July 1, except when it comes to wages. But any salary increase they seek could be no more than the consumer price index, unless voters in the affected jurisdiction approved a higher raise.
Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the next contract is settled. Public employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.
The proposal would effectively remove unions’ right to negotiate in any meaningful way. Local law enforcement and fire employees, as well as state troopers and inspectors would be exempt.
Walker’s plan also calls for state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions starting April 1. They would have to contribute at least 12.6 percent toward their health care. Those two items would generate $30 million by July 1 and roughly $300 million over the next two years when combined with the other concessions.
Walker insisted he was not targeting public employees and that his primary concern was balancing the budget. His bill also calls for selling off state heating plants to save money and refinancing state debt to save $165 million in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
As you might imagine, an action like this might trigger a strike, or at least, the threat of one. No worries, because Walker is ready to call out the National Guard if such a thing happens.
Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.
Walker said Friday that he hasn’t called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems.
Walker says he has every confidence that state employees will continue to show up for work and do their jobs. But he says he’s been working on contingency plans for months just in case they don’t.
(click here to continue reading Dictatorship in Wisconsin? | Crooks and Liars.)
Call out the National Guard? Really? And what exactly is the Wisconsin National Guard going to do? Teach high school chemistry? Change bed pans in the local hospital?
Statement on Governor Walker’s Request to Eliminate Collective-Bargaining Rights February 11, 2011
“Governor Walker’s request to the State Legislature to eliminate nearly all of the collective-bargaining rights for thousands of Wisconsin workers is big government at its worst. No private employer can do what the governor proposes, nor should it. For decades, Wisconsin has protected the rights of workers to collectively bargain with their employer on wages, benefits, workplace rules, and many other aspects of their employment. The governor is wrong to suggest that public workers are responsible for the state’s budget woes, and he is wrong to use that bogus excuse to strip them of rights that millions of other American workers have.”
(click here to continue reading Statement on Governor Walker’s Request to Eliminate Collective-Bargaining Rights | Russ Feingold.)
Amazing. I secretly hope he, and other reactionaries like him in the US Congress and elsewhere, follow through on their plans to destroy the U.S. economy by gutting each and every domestic program. Maybe then people will realize who they are supporting when they vote Republican, and even more, maybe the vast majority who ignore politics will get woken up. What percentage of eligible voters cast their ballots for these tea-bagger thugs in 2010? 20%? 25%? Something like that. The other 75% of us have to do more if we have any hope of avoiding turning our country into Somalia or similar third world country.