On Friday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, republican who is less than two months into his first term, officially declared war on the state employee unions that state employees have been relying on for the last 50 years to negotiate on their behalf with the state employers. Walker proposes to increase the contributions of employees in both their pension plans and health insurance premiums resulting in up to a 10% pay cut across the board for state employees with the exceptions of state patrol and firemen, both of which supported Walker in his election run.
Here's the Huffpo article about the action: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/scott-walker-unions-wisconsin-national-guard_n_822225.html
Here's the Wisconsin State Journal's article: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_c814c77a-3600-11e0-b9e0-001cc4c03286.html
Saying those who didn't see it coming must have been in a "coma," Gov. Scott Walker unveiled sweeping legislation that would severely curtail public employee rights and dramatically change the way Wisconsin negotiates with unions going forward.
And here's the only real statement made from the neutered opposition party c/o the Madison Capital Times: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/editorial/article_c8dc2189-1d6c-510b-9244-76d79987a088.html
This is all the result of two democrats betraying the party (and the unions who supported them), including the senate majority leader at the time, by voting against passing the contracts during the lame duck session immediately before ending business for the term.
Here's the story from the Wisconsin State Journal: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/loc...cc4c03286.html
And here's the payment given to one of the democrats in return for his obstructionism: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/loc...cc4c03286.html
From the article:
Former Democratic Sen. Jeff Plale, who voted against his party during a lame duck session on state contracts last month, has joined the administration of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Plale will earn $90,000 a year as the administrator of the Division of State Facilities, according to the Department of Administration.
The real issue here isn't the pay cut - which is substantial and does the exact opposite of what Walker claims in "sharing the pain" - but rather the fact that he has combined union busting regulations into the deal. While it is true that Wisconsin faces a steep deficit, and cuts are needed to be made, Walker refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and instead sets the options as either busting the union or stop providing healthcare to thousands of impoverished children. Clearly these are not the only options, and yet Walker insists that he will not even sit at the negotiation table with union leaders because he "has nothing to give."
I know Wisconsin isn't alone in this move to so-called "right to work" states where unions are actively being busted, but this case seems to be quite unusual. Walker has pushed forward a shocking amount of new legislation in his time since being sworn in this January and his Republican state house and senate are all too eager to move his agenda forward with no hearings, no debate, and no time for the public to digest any of the changes before they are passed and put into law.
So from one point of view this thread is about the specific struggle state employees face in Wisconsin, while it also looks at the trouble unions face as a whole. It is also a place to complain about your governors or state-level government, since we know that the states determine a heckuva lot of what happens on the national/federal level.