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Author Topic: Scott Walker, Union Buster  (Read 26830 times)

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Offline ValerianTopic starter

Scott Walker, Union Buster
« on: February 17, 2011, 09:31:43 AM »
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=12938232
http://www.npr.org/2011/02/16/133814271/union-changes-in-wisconsin-spark-protests

Since it's come up in another thread, I'd be interested to see some more detailed discussion of Walker's plans.  The actual text of the bill in question is here.

Quote from: ABC News
In exchange for bearing more costs and losing bargaining leverage, the state's 170,000 public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Mr. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure fails.

President Barack Obama called Mr. Walker's bill an "assault on unions." He made the remark in the course of an interview with a Milwaukee radio station about federal budget issues.

"I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends," Mr. Obama said. "These are folks who are teachers and they're firefighters and they're social workers and they're police officers."

Mr. Walker said the dramatic action is necessary to close the state's gaping budget hole for the fiscal year starting in July and avoid massive employee layoffs.

"We're at a point of crisis," Mr. Walker told reporters. And while he said he appreciated the concerns of the public employees shouting outside his office door, taxpayers "need to be heard as well."

Beyond eliminating collective bargaining rights, the bill would force public workers to pay half the cost of their pensions and at least 12.6% of their health-care coverage.

Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO called the bill "an attack on organized labor and middle class values. "The protests have been among the most well attended in recent Wisconsin history."

Walker has called the bill "a modest proposal", though I'm guessing he doesn't know the historical context behind that phrase.

After introducing the bill only a week ago, Walker intends to put it to a final vote today and pass it into law with a bare minimum of discussion from legislators or the public.  About 30,000 people are expected to be in and around the capitol building today in protest, with thousands more protesting elsewhere in the state.  Students are staging walkouts in support of the teachers' unions.  Madison schools were expected to be closed for the second day in a row as teachers call in sick in order to attend the protests.  Parents have generally supported these measures.

Despite the bill pointedly excluding police, state patrol officers, and firefighters from the restrictions, those groups have all openly joined in the public protests.  The bill also bans public employers from collecting union dues and would make it more difficult for unions to re-certify themselves.


Regardless of the content of the bill, I don't think it's right to rush it through with so little scrutiny and discussion.  However you look at it, it's a serious piece of legislation, overturning a fifty-year tradition in the state, and Walker's haste is only making it look like he fears any possibility of reasoned opposition to the plan.

Also, there is some serious disagreement as to how necessary it is overall.  The state budget numbers Walker has been presenting are different from the figures published by the Wisconsin Board of Fiscal Policy, leading to accusations that he's spinning the numbers to make the budget crisis look worse than it is.

Since this is something that will deeply affect my home state (ironically, the same state that was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees) for years to come, I'd be very interested in hearing other views on the situation.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 12:46:20 PM »
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/editorial/article_61064e9a-27b0-5f28-b6d1-a57c8b2aaaf6.html

I think this says it all:

Quote
...

To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the “crisis” would not exist.

The Fiscal Bureau memo -- which readers can access at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf -- makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.

...

Walker is quite a gem as far as slimy politicians are concerned.

I have to wonder at the constitutionality of prohibiting collective worker bargaining. I'm not a fan of coercive union policies, either, but unions did at one point serve an important purpose in our nations history, and when employers are scarce they are needed the most. Sixteen Tons comes to mind.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 01:00:05 PM »
Wow.. that has to be one of the biggest gaming moves I've seen yet. He's gaming the system and someone is dropping the ball. I thought the NC democrats had it going on but they never scuttled their own boat.

Offline ValerianTopic starter

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 01:01:48 PM »
I actually haven't heard of anyone questioning the constitutionality of the measure.  Allow me to hope fervently that he's stymied on that basis.  He was elected by a thin majority -- 52% to 46% -- and acts as though he was swept in by a landslide.  He seems to be ignoring certain unpleasant facts, such as the fact that police had to shut down the street where he lives, because it was too flooded by protesters shouting for his recall.

The latest news is that Madison police have been asked to go look for the Democratic senators, who are supposed to be at the capitol building right now.  They've all boycotted the vote, and without them there, the Republicans can't pass any measure, as they lack a quorum.

The fact that anyone had to resort to such a tactic makes me wish that Walker could be recalled right now.  Unfortunately, while apparently there are no time restrictions of any sort over passing legislation, in Wisconsin we're required to wait at least one year after a government official's election before said official can be removed from office.  :P

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 01:08:32 PM »
Wow that move could bite the opposition in the ass but I honestly can't see a valid tactic that can be used in the short term other than breaking the quorum. As close as the split is I don't see a recall going through unless someone finds something that shows him publicly gaming the system against the interests of the public good.  Having seen the state system played to the benefit of one party as long as I did growing up in NC, I doubt short of an actual fraud case coming up that he's going to be stopped.

Offline ValerianTopic starter

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 03:42:34 PM »
The latest news -- which so far I've only found on CNN -- is that while 16 members of the state senate are currently AWOL, reportedly across state lines, only 14 of them are Democrats.  If true, that would mean two Republicans bailed with them, since there are currently no independents or other parties represented there.  I had heard that the Republicans were starting to waver, but this is a little more dramatic than I expected...

Offline Revolverman

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 04:11:18 PM »
Me thinks this guy might be in trouble if Republicans members are doing this.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 04:21:15 PM »
Me thinks this guy might be in trouble if Republicans members are doing this.

Politicians are like rats, great survival instincts. Seeing this sort of thing being done so stupidly, makes them nervous. They don't like people making public scrutiny increase. Not to mention all members of the party like the party line (either side) and know what they really rely on. Their districts.

I suspect the media sniffing at some of these antics of his has to be making a LOT of people in the party uncomfortable.

Offline Rhys

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 05:24:29 PM »
Been watching this unfold from in Wisconsin and I have to say, frankly, that Scott Walker is a scumbag. The fact that he blindly disregards the will of the people and tries to use petty threats to get his policies supported speak volumes for him (IE: Saying that if this doesn't get pushed through his only other option is laying off thousands of government employees). He likes to hide behind the weak ass argument that because he was elected, that means that the people of Wisconsin support each and every one of his ideas.

I patiently await the moment when the 'chalk flu' going on in Madison starts spreading to elsewhere in the state and more people start to realize that something needs to be done about this. And I find some small amount of solace in the fact that other Republicans have started either openly protesting the bill or, in the very least, examining the idea of changing it.


Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2011, 05:47:15 PM »
I watched the ABC video of him saying he planned on this all along. I'm curious as to how visible it was. I won't lie, it makes me VERY nervous when the establishment casually sets aside the idea of collective bargaining and representation. It is setting a dangerous precedent in my mind that the unions, who admittedly haven't in SOME cases had a lot to, are being pushed aside as folks like Walker are looking to squeeze the hell out of the budget and help out his croneys.

I think a LOT of unions are victims of their own success by the way. They have represented their members, pushed for better federal safety regulation and enforcement tot he point that OSHA has taken a LOT of the duties they did at first to ensure their members safety. That being said, their members still need a collective voice or you wind up with folks like WalMart who casually just do what they want no matter what.


Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2011, 01:33:50 PM »
Interestingly I just watched 3 news channels and only ONE commented on the removal of collective bargaining in the stalled vote. The other channels played up the 'step up to the rest of us' on the loss of benefits bit but didn't say a thing about the removal of the right to have collective bargaining and the only reason CNN said anything was they were quoting the PRESIDENT who is against it.

Offline ValerianTopic starter

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2011, 01:42:15 PM »
I was on the ABC news site earlier, trying to inject some sense into the comments that were being posted -- with basically zero success.  It was all a lot of screaming about "Unions are taking over!  Replace those senators!  Fire all the teachers who protest!"  Very, very few posters seemed to realize either the collective bargaining aspect of the problem, or the fact that Walker himself could solve the whole problem simply by backing off on his pet special interests projects.

Wisconsin was actually headed for a slight budget surplus before all this happened, thanks to the previous governor, who happens to be a Democrat.  :P

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2011, 01:49:27 PM »

Wisconsin was actually headed for a slight budget surplus before all this happened, thanks to the previous governor, who happens to be a Democrat.  :P

I noticed that fact gets bulldozed over a lot. Along with the fact that Walker is clearly trying to feed his 'campaign machine' with all manners of payola by bloating things.

Neither side are saints. I mean look at some of the things Blue AND Red run states do. North Carolina for example, just broke a 90 year lock on the state house by the Democrats. They had (up till about 2 years ago) an autolock on gas taxes (every six months they went up, UNLESS the house voted against it), the Governor's wife got a sweet job deal with the state university.

Of course on the other side of things, the major Republican in the State House arranged things to spin the state lottery issue towards a friends firm and got a cushy job for a relative of his.

There is a lot of gouging and bloat on both sides of the party line on the state level and it's really interesting to see the difference between the National party outlook and the various states.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2011, 02:00:00 PM »
Daily Kos is now discussing that it is possible to recall 8 of the Republican senators. They only need to recall a few to flip control of the senate.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2011, 02:01:56 PM »
Daily Kos is now discussing that it is possible to recall 8 of the Republican senators. They only need to recall a few to flip control of the senate.

If I was the Dems.. I'd be worried about Walker looking into Gerrymandering the districts to clean up in the next yearly elections.  Clearly Walker is looking to build a 'machine' to keep his cliche in position.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2011, 02:16:46 PM »
I will laugh my ass off if this triggers a wave of recall elections across the states that are considering bills like this before redistricting starts.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2011, 02:28:01 PM »
I've been curious about redistricting (given we were coming up on the census feedback) and I found it INFINITELY amusing that the NC democrats were dead set against a non-partisan board to do it till they lost control of the State House.. all of a sudden they are all FOR it.  One of the 2000 districts literally followed I-85 and was no wider than 10 miles wide out past the highway.

I'm watching the Florida redistricting initiatives with interest since their passage in this last election. I was for it, but I'm still dubious to see the results.  Hopeful but dubious.

I am curious to see how many states change their colors (on the state/national levels) after this latest round of turn overs. There are a LOT of states that are marginal in the control of the current parties. And others like NC, which has been Democratic run for nearly a century now being a Republican state house for the first time since well..ever.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 02:37:10 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline ValerianTopic starter

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2011, 02:52:43 PM »
Wisconsin has traditionally been a swing state, probably thanks in part to the geography.  If you're in the northern, relatively uninhabited part of the state, you're most likely surrounded by Republicans.  As you move further south, you find more and more Democrats, until by the time you reach Madison, you're in the heart of liberal country.  Geographically, the truly Democratic portion of the state is fairly small, but it holds quite a lot of the population.

As an example, in the presidential election before last, it looked as though the state would swing Republican -- until it was discovered that there had been a problem getting the results from Milwaukee County and Dane County (which is where Madison is).  Once those were added in, we were a blue state again.

I have no idea how things could be successfully rearranged in that setup; but I'm sure both sides would have all sorts of clever tricks they'd love to try.  :P

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2011, 03:06:18 PM »

I have no idea how things could be successfully rearranged in that setup; but I'm sure both sides would have all sorts of clever tricks they'd love to try.  :P

Surprisingly there are several tricks. Like if there is a region you KNOW you're going to lose, short the second coming of Honest Abe/George Washing, you pack it FULL of the opposition to open up districts for your voters to make it less a 'sure thing' and you have a chance at winning. (more so than you would if you kept the old districts the way they were).

It's not just about pandering to demographics. The more I read about it the snearkier it is.

 

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Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2011, 07:41:56 PM »
In Florida, we're dealing with a similar situation with our own Scott: Rick Scott.

Though Republican, he continually speaks to the desires of the Tea Party and his corporate sponsors while ignoring traditional gubernatorial methods of communication.  He's cutting social services, including programs dealing with homelessness, health care for the elderly, domestic violence prevention, and suicide prevention.  Also, he plans on axing the pensions, health benefits, and the hazard pay earned by police and firefighters.  I now work for a state educational system whose budget has the very real threat of losing 10% of its funding and its replacement has seriously been considered to place ads on school buses.

A movement has begun to recall Scott, and my union has expressed for all of us to closely watch how things go down in Wisconsin.  I support Wisconsin's public workers and the people who want to bring sanity back to the money-obsessed madmen.  They're blazing the trail I hope my own state will either follow or turn from.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2011, 07:49:13 PM »
Yeah the Tea Partiers just hammered in some sneaky moves up here in Jax this week. Pretty much blowing off any people who try to explain that you don't 'save money' by screwing the school staff/board/teachers.

I didn't like what I was hearing at all.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2011, 07:19:49 AM »
There's already a Facebook page promoting the recall of state senators: http://www.facebook.com/recallwirepubs

District 2 - Robert Cowles (Green Bay) - needs 15,800 signatures
8 - Alberta Darling (River Hills) - needs 20,300 signatures
10 - Sheila Harsdorf (River Hills) - needs 15,500 signatures
14 - Luther Olsen (Ripon) - needs 14,500 signatures
18 - Randy Hopper (Fond du Lac) - needs 15,268 signatures - Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Recall-Wisconsin-Senator-Randy-Hopper/201095759901312
20 - Glenn Grothman (West Bend) - needs 20,000 signatures
28 - Mary Lazich (New Berlin) - needs 20,900 signatures
32 - Dan Kapanke (La Crosse) - needs 15,400 signatures

----

This could be over with in a couple months.

Offline ValerianTopic starter

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2011, 09:43:16 AM »
With the state senate still without a quorum, Republicans have started trying to rush the bill through the Assembly:

Quote
At 4:55 — five minutes before the session scheduled to begin — Assembly Clerk Patrick Fuller began roll call and quorum was ordered although no Democrats were in the chamber. Republicans quickly voted to adopt the amendment passed by the Joint Finance Committee and then began the vote that would make the bill impossible to amend further.

Then came the Democrats.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, darted into the chamber first and picked up his microphone to speak but Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, did not turn on Hintz’s microphone.

Over the cries of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, and the entire Democratic caucus, Kramer asked for a voice-vote to engross the bill, which passed with a chorus of ‘ayes’ from Republicans at 4:57 p.m. Not until Barca said the speaker must be deaf did Kramer turn Barca’s microphone on.

“That you would first of all be here before five o’ clock and take an illegal vote before the proceedings are supposed to start,” Barca said. “Unbelievable. Unprecedented. Un-American, not in keeping with the values of this state. You should be ashamed of yourself, each and every one of you, especially you Mr. Speaker, who should know the rules of this body.”

After some discussion, Assembly Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, addressed the chamber and said he thought the Democrats were not going to show up, like their Senate colleagues, but understood

However, Fitzgerald said he understood Democrats still had some amendments to draft and decided to adjourn the meeting until Tuesday at 10 a.m. when the chamber would debate the bill from scratch.

Full article here.  The premature vote by the Republicans did in fact break one of the rules of conduct for the Assembly.

The Tea Party is planning to set up a counter demonstration today -- I couldn't find any predicted numbers for that particular group, but total protesters for both sides are expected to hit 50,000 today (so probably around 10,000 for the counter-protest), and police are working on ways to keep the two groups safely apart.  So far the protests have been remarkably peaceful, with only nine arrests, mainly of people who attempted to break past guards to get into the assembly chambers.   One Tea Party protester, however, will likely be conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is known for his inflammatory language -- apparently he's been referring to the anti-Walker protesters as "dirty pigs" and Madison as a pigsty in need of cleaning.

The Tea Party is also looking into the possibility of recalling the Democratic senators, who are all still in Illinois.  So if both sides get their way, we could have an entirely new Senate shortly.  :P


In the picture on the right, you can see a group of people in red shirts, which is the color many anti-Walker protesters have been wearing to show solidarity.  An estimated 11,000 of the protesters are students or faculty at the University of Wisconsin (my alma mater), mainly from the Madison campus, which isn't very surprising when you consider that campus' long history of protests.

Offline Avi

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Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2011, 09:50:32 AM »
Frankly, as a Wisconsin native and a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, I have to say that I have been incredibly interested in what's going down up in the Great White North.  I've gotten reports from friends that entire classes at the University have volunteered to go, with their professors, to support the rallies against this bill. 

I've also seen some of the most condescending and vindictive rhetoric on the part of conservatives toward those protesting, mostly centering around the idea that state workers are spoiled and don't want to give up on their cushy benefits.  My aunt is a retired state worker (she worked with the Department of Finance, I believe), and she stands to lose quite a bit of her safety net in retirement if Walker's proposal goes through, not to mention her friends who still work being at risk of getting screwed over.  To state that it's all about spoiled liberals not being willing to make "tough decisions" is irresponsible and reprehensible.

That being said, in a tough economic situation, cuts WILL need to be made... I just think that Walker needs to slow things down and quit acting like he won by a landslide, like other people have stated here.  I don't know how reliable this stat is, since it came from MSNBC, but supposedly, of the $137 million state budget deficit, $117 million comes from Republican-supported tax breaks.  I would say that, if Repubs are so interested in cutting state worker benefits, they should cut an equal amount from their pet tax breaks. 

Just a thought.

On another note, Val, I saw several people in Memphis on Thursday wearing Wisconsin Red to support the protests.  I've never been more proud to be a Badger. :D
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:59:20 AM by Avi »

Offline Sure

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2011, 09:55:04 AM »
In the picture on the right, you can see a group of people in red shirts, which is the color many anti-Walker protesters have been wearing to show solidarity.  An estimated 11,000 of the protesters are students or faculty at the University of Wisconsin (my alma mater), mainly from the Madison campus, which isn't very surprising when you consider that campus' long history of protests.

In my experience, people in Red Shirts tend to do rather poorly when it comes to success. Perhaps you should seek out Captain Kirk directly instead?

Anyway, I can at least see how a reasonable, rational, non-slimy person might justify such cuts. I can see how someone only slightly deluded or who lacks in idealism could justify taking away collective bargaining powers. But I'm not inclined to think well of politicians in general, so I would guess this is just a power play.