Third Party & Independents Archives

Wisconsin’s remarkably fiscal-free fiscal bill

If you haven’t decided which side of the fence you’re on in the Wisconsin union protests, consider this:

From inception, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claimed that “outrageous union pensions and benefits are a devastating draw on the state’s already failing economy.”

After ramming his pet union-busting bill through the state legislature without the participation or voted consent of the state’s Democrat party by stripping away literally every word of the bill that had to do with budget and finances, Walker is now saying union bill’s changes ‘”are Indeed Fiscal.” If they are fiscal, then the bill, by state law and the state’s Constitution requires a three-fifths quorum (20 members) of approval for passage. And if that’s true, then Walker and his Republican minions in Wisconsin just bought themselves a whole new fight from the opposition.

Walker’s current fiscal fixes requiring additional contributions from public employees have not been opposed by the unions. Did you get that? The unions HAVE NOT OPPOSED the salary cuts and pension freezes Walker demanded.

By Walker’s own analysis, the future deficits facing Wisconsin were caused by unfunded liabilities of Medicaid, present and future. It has nothing to do with public employee compensation. Add the fact that the highest cost of public employee compensation packages comes from police and fire related services. Care to guess which unions were exempted from Walker's bill? So if the teeming majority of the state’s deficit comes from Medicaid, and the two largest sources of union benefits are not included in Walker’s proposal to eliminate unions, where exactly are Walker’s grounds for being so adamant about getting this bill passed?

The only way they could pass the anti-union sections of the bill was to literally segregate it from the very fiscal legislation that was Walker’s justification for imposing the bill in the first place. It only proves that the anti-union issues had very little – if anything – to do with the budget issues.

Isn’t it interesting how the “remarkable tactics” of politicians always seem to involve some way-out-of-left-field stretched interpretation of procedures? Seems to me that a state government, running the state’s business, should be manageable through fairly standard methods, not “surprise bills” and tactics that generate more scrutiny than the bill itself.

The Wisconsin senate Republicans removed every financial portion of the bill to separate them from the union-dismantling portion of the bill, mainly to push it through a tumultuous “crisis” and blaming it on Democrat impropriety. Walker and the Republicans removed all facets of finances from the bill and approved literally nothing more than a “we hate unions because they usually support Democrats” bill.

It either is about finances or it isn’t (and … it isn’t). If it *IS* “indeed about finances,” then the Republican maneuver to end-run around the opposition was a sham and they should be exposed for perpetrating it.

“Ultimately what you saw in the bill that passed last night in the state Senate,” Walker said Thursday in trying to defend his actions. “It will shortly be debated and voted on in the state Assembly, a measure that’s really about reform. It’s about giving local governments the reform – and state government as well — the reforms they need to make government work better, to make government work for the people of this state and in each of our communities. Along with that, it also gives the tools to improve government for the people of this state. That’s what this bill is all about.”"

Giving governments reform powers? Improving government? Make government work better? Where are the factual financial benefits of the bill, Governor? Where are your arguments proving the bill is about the state’s money? Where’s the financial beef?

Claiming that union negotiations were the cause of the fiscal crisis or will be in the future is nonsense when you cannot demonstrate a factual correlation. It’s even more nonsense if the very foundation of why you propose legislation is stripped out of the legislation in order to get the real reason behind it implemented.

The Republicans in Wisconsin have done nothing more with this bill than the shave off the corners of a square peg to make it fit into a round hole. That hole is called “depowering the Democrat voting base.”

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 9:50 AM
Comments
Comment #319964

It is not a ‘sham,’ it is not a ‘bait-and-switch’ tactic. It was a procedural means to get the bill passed after state senate dems fled the state.

Furthermore, it was always about finances, even though the Republicans ended up having to use the ‘procedural’ methodology of ‘stripping’ the non-financial (legal term)portion away from the so-called financial portion.

In other words, because the fleebagger 14, especially minority leader Mark Miller, did not bargain in good faith, refused to come back to Madison and never was going to really ‘negotiate’ with Walker and the Republicans, the Reps used the very methodology that another Democratic Senator proposed earlier in the process.

Walker, waited, and waited, and waited; he even considered a compromise. But the Dem 14 were never going to compromise.

Again, for the uninitiated: collective bargaining has everything to do with money, budgets and finances! Nearly every collective bargaining deal is based on some kind of work rule, benefit, time-off, who gets laid off or vacation rules change.

Splitting the so-called financial from the non-financial part of a bill is merely semantics.

The overall cost of non-wage collective bargaining has untold costs associated with it. I know, I’ve lived it in a top 2 national union for nearly 20 years! I was a union member (closed shop), I was an appointed union negotiater, and I was a supervisor and manager on the other side of the table. While esoteric in nature, the hidden costs are many.

And these hidden costs have a deleterious affect on state budgets.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at March 11, 2011 12:30 PM
Comment #319968

Btw, I haven’t been able to independently confirm this, but I’ve heard that the WI senators NEVER actually conceded on the 5 and 12 plan officially.

That it was ‘talked about’ in the media for PR effect, but the actual union leaders never offered up the pension and health care concessions to Gov. Walker or the WI GOP.

If someone on WB has come across such proof, please provide us with a link.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at March 11, 2011 12:47 PM
Comment #319973

Kevin,

I respect your opinions, but I vehemently disagree with them.

The plain and simple fact is that Walker and the Republicans presented this entire union-busting issue as a purely financial criticality. When they couldn’t get their way (which seems to be the stock-in-trade of American politics anymore), they stripped out EVERY financial paragraph from the bill and left nothing more than a means of depowering the unions, and thereby depowering the Democrats those unions leaned toward.

How can you rightfully call a piece of legislation “financial” when EVERY WORD of financial language is stripped out of the bill to leave nothing but procedures to eliminate unions?

This was PURELY partisan politics, and it never had anything to do with the state’s budget or debt. To continue to defend it as such is foolish, now that the facts are available for all to see, and the Republicans’ true intentions have been demonstrated.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 1:12 PM
Comment #319980

Gary,
Great article.
You might want to read this excellent piece from McClatchy that I posted yesterday in the red column:
Why employee pensions aren’t bankrupting states

That includes the state of Wisconsin. What’s happening there and in other states is very obviously Shock Doctrine straight out of the conservative playbook.

You wrote:

This was PURELY partisan politics, and it never had anything to do with the state’s budget or debt. To continue to defend it as such is foolish, now that the facts are available for all to see, and the Republicans’ true intentions have been demonstrated.

You’re absolutely right. And one of the Wisconsin Senate Republicans actually let this fact slip out the other day on Fox. Check it out:
Wisconsin Senate leader admits union-busting bill is about defeating Obama

Posted by: Adrienne at March 11, 2011 2:11 PM
Comment #319990

Adrienne:

You’re absolutely right. And one of the Wisconsin Senate Republicans actually let this fact slip out the other day on Fox. Check it out: Wisconsin Senate leader admits union-busting bill is about defeating Obama

I applaud you for including sources to back up your position. I feel it necessary to point out, however, that in this case your source is completely without credibility (and not just because it comes from ThinkProgress). The video they show has been conveniently edited to cut out the question to which Senator Fitzgerald was responding, which completely changes the context of his statement.

I saw the original interview (I was unable to find it or the original text or I would have provided it). The Senator made a statement to the effect that he believes that the Obama Administration is either behind or at least influencing the recall efforts against 8 GOP members. Megan Kelly responded quickly asking him to support that contention. He pointed out the fact that there are direct links between people in the recall efforts to the President’s political operation in Chicago, then went on to explain what he believes the motivation was, which was the only part they played in the video.

By itself, it certainly appears damning, but when one sees the complete discussion, it dramatically changes the context and thus, the meaning of his statements. His statement had nothing to do with the purpose of the legislation, it had to do with what he believes the motivation would be for the President to exert influence in the recall efforts.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 11, 2011 3:31 PM
Comment #319992

Please Kevin Nye, don’t make me laugh! I’m sorry, but the statements that man is making in that clip really do speak for themselves.

“If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.”


That is a complete sentence, and there was really is no mistaking the context — it’s all right there!

Posted by: Adrienne at March 11, 2011 3:48 PM
Comment #319993

KN is absolutely correct. And in the spirit of full disclosure, nearly every writer, blogger - and even reporter - presents their information, quotes, data, video, opinion, etc in a manner to bolster their argument.

Thus, it is vital to see things (especially quotes and video) in context.

Sadly, it is almost impossible to ‘source’ one’s data or research without biased news sources (e.g., ThinkProgress, DailyKos, HuffPost, Newsmax, Red State and The Daily Caller, just to name a few).

Although a lot of these types of websites have very good writers and editors, it is mostly news aggregation, op-eds and pure opinion pieces.

I’ve found myself battling this very dilemma in recent years (can I or should I source from a particular Web site)? I try to use Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census data and other generally non-partisan sources where deep analysis has been done. Even then, the data isn’t always ‘good.’

But like most bloggers/writers, I’m busy and it’s easy to source WaPo, the New York Times, etc for one’s backgrounder information.

One could write an entire blog post on this dilemma.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at March 11, 2011 4:03 PM
Comment #319997

Kevin Nye wrote:

your source is completely without credibility (and not just because it comes from ThinkProgress). The video they show has been conveniently edited to cut out the question to which Senator Fitzgerald was responding, which completely changes the context of his statement.

Sort of like Fox News using video footage from a solidarity protest in San Francisco and claiming it was the union protests in Wisconsin to make it appear that Fox reporters were “endangered by all the violence going on there by the angry left”?

You mean *THAT* kind of lack of credibility?

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 4:28 PM
Comment #319999


In context, meaning like $7.5 billion in damages.

The Senator believes, there are links, What are Fox listeners to make of that?

The question to Kevin and Kevin is, do you believe that Republicans would take advantage of a chance to deny Democrats union funding?

Why would Obama back the recall? He has maintained throughout his tenure that he is loath to alienate Republicans because he wishes to compromise with them.

He has pretty much stuck to that notion even though Republicans for the most part have rejected the offer of compromise in favor of vilification.

It is beyond me why Obama seems to be incapable of understanding that to Republicans compromise is capitulation.

Gary don’t get ahead of the game. The goals of globalization are proceeding in an orderly fashion.

Telecommunications, conservative talk radio.
Tax breaks.
Outsourcing.
In-sourcing.
Massive fiscal irresponsibility.
Attack of the banshees.
Unions.

You can’t just jump all over the place. Things have to proceed in an orderly fashion. Big ticket items like Social Security and Medicare have to wait. They are still to popular. The slaves of globalization already made the mistake of trying to take out Social Security to early.

Again, things have to proceed in an orderly fashion. Crisis’s have to be manufactured, fear elevated, doom and gloom heightened to epidemic proportions.

It is the social programs, the labor laws and the unions that are bankrupting America, not the BANKS.

Posted by: jlw at March 11, 2011 5:10 PM
Comment #320011

Gary:

Sort of like Fox News using video footage from a solidarity protest in San Francisco and claiming it was the union protests in Wisconsin to make it appear that Fox reporters were “endangered by all the violence going on there by the angry left”?

To some extent, yes. If you watch the clip however, you’ll see that it was b-roll running and neither O’Reilly or Tobin even referenced the footage, let alone claimed that it was from Wisconsin. I do agree though, that because of the location it was taken from, it was definitely misleading.

I don’t believe, however, that it is quite as egregious as selectively editing a video clip in an attempt to manipulate the meaning behind it. I don’t care what network it is, if they selectively cut a clip which distorts the meaning, I’ll be the first to condemn them for it.

Whether you like Fox or not, one can’t deny that there have been many examples of overly aggressive or violent behavior, not only in Wisconsin, but other parts of the country as well. It just seems that Fox is one of the few, if not the only, network to actually report it. (On a side note, I find it quite humorous that none of the people chanting “Fox lies” can actually come up with any specifics. They just chant and yell like petulant children but when asked for an example, the best they can come up with is “there’s too many” or “every day”. Wow. How compelling.)

The vast majority of the protesters have been peaceful (unruly at times, but peaceful) and it’s unfortunate that a select few have chosen to make the peaceful majority look bad.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 11, 2011 6:46 PM
Comment #320019

In the long run,it is about the fiscal health of the state, since union rules create such inefficiencies in personnel etc.

Public employees are well protected by civil service rules. They do not require unions like those in private enterprise. An association, bringing their issues to the attention of legislatures is sufficient.

Of course, the Wisconsin legislation does not ban unions. It provides more choice for the workers, who can more easily choose to be union members, or not.

Congratulations to the people of Wisconsin. Their legislators did a good thing.

Posted by: C&J at March 11, 2011 9:08 PM
Comment #320022

I love this. Are there any liberals left on WB who have enough sense to put together a correct thought?

Jlw said:

“Why would Obama back the recall? He has maintained throughout his tenure that he is loath to alienate Republicans because he wishes to compromise with them.”

Organizing for America is Obama’s organization and it has been responsible for stirring up the problems in WI.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/ofasplashflag/

“The Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America arm — the remnant of the 2008 Obama campaign — is playing an active role in organizing protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights.
OfA, as the campaign group is known, has been criticized at times for staying out of local issues like same-sex marriage, but it’s riding to the aide of the public sector unions who hoping to persuade some Republican legislators to oppose Walker’s plan. And while Obama may have his difference with teachers unions, OfA’s engagement with the fight — and Obama’s own clear stance against Walker — mean that he’s remaining loyal to key Democratic Party allies at what is, for them, a very dangerous moment.”

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0211/DNC_playing_role_in_Wisconsin_protests.html?showall

Posted by: 1776 at March 11, 2011 9:59 PM
Comment #320023

Like all the other hot topics of the left; the cries of unfair and unlawful are only more hyperbole. By next week the left will move on to another critical meltdown and the events of WI will have been proven to be legal with not much effect on the ability of WI union workers to do their job or negotiate pay raises. The left is desperate to keep slinging crap and hoping that some of it will stick. What we are seeing are the death throes of a dinosaur organization (unions) whose time has come and gone.

Yes, C&J, congrats to the brave Republican politicians of WI, and the people who voted them in for real change.

Posted by: 1776 at March 11, 2011 10:18 PM
Comment #320025

Here is a great web site that tells the truth about the changes to employees union benefits. It is the best site I have found so far.

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/03/08/the-truth-about-wisconsin

Posted by: Conservativethinker at March 11, 2011 11:17 PM
Comment #320026

TO 1776, since your head is buried so completely in the sand, let me just say, “Breathe deeply.”


To Kevin Nye: “To some extent, yes. If you watch the clip however, you’ll see that it was b-roll running and neither O’Reilly or Tobin even referenced the footage, let alone claimed that it was from Wisconsin.”

Then why show it at all? O’Reilly and Tobin never said a word about San Francisco or the solidary protests, either. So WHY SHOW THE CLIP while still talking about Wisconsin and having the text tag “Union protests” in the upper left corner while Tobin described how “violent and dangerous” it was on the ground and O’Reilly prattled on about “professional leftists”? WHY SHOW THE CLIP? What does it offer? What’s the relevance? What’s the purpose?

And if O’Reilly’s so concerned about professional partisans; what’s his take on the parent company syndicating Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s and his own show is a company that hires actors to call in to radio shows and pretend to be “concerned citizens”?

Limbaugh’s denial of ever using the hire-an-actor service will prove to be every bit as much bullsh*t as when he vehemently denied “ever even taking oxycontin, much less being addicted to it or doctor-shopping to get it.”

But the people who criticize those who scream “Fox lies” are correct. The news network doesn’t lie. It’s all the people employed by that network who are doing the lying.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 11:24 PM
Comment #320040

What everyone seems to forget is that the term “Collective Bargining” is a financial statement. For if we talk aboyt class size we are talking about money. If we talk about safety we are talking about money. In fact, by the fact the State of Wisconsin took away “Collective Bargining Rights” is a matter of money. So how is what the Republicans of Wisconsin done legal? And more important doesn’t that make the contracts the State has with the Public Employees invalid the day it becomes law?

Seems to me that any lawyer with some education can figure out how easy it is to force Governor Walker into a position that will make the State respomsible for settling the old contracts before new ones can be introduced. And that includes making the State of Wiconsin pay in full the State Pension Plan so it may be disolved and a new plan be drawn up. However, does anyone want to bet the American Lawyers don’t have the courage to take on the Establishment. For what would a Jury of 12 fair minded Wisconsin Citizens say if the Law of the Land was applied by the Courts?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 12, 2011 2:27 AM
Comment #320042

Henry,

The bill limits the collective bargaining rights but that does not invalidate existing contracts. The State of Wisconsin is still legally obligated to honor all contracts that are in place. It simply limits collective bargaining for future contracts, so there’s no legal issue as it relates to contracts that are in place today.

As far as money goes, you’re 100% correct. This whole situation is not even about collective bargaining, it’s about money. Collective bargaining is the rallying cry that the unions are using to try to build public support, but the real issue is that the legislation changes the law so that public employees are no longer required to join the union and the union also now has to be certified annually by a majority vote of the members or they will not be permitted to represent the workers.

This is from the original version of the bill (the “stripped-down” version is not available online yet, but I would assume that the collective bargaining language is the same):

Current law provides that state and municipal employees who are represented by a labor organization have the organization dues deducted from their salaries. Except for salary deductions for public safety employees, this bill prohibits the salary deductions for labor organization dues. This bill also allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit.
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/JR1SB-11.pdf

This is what the real issue is. The unions aren’t objecting to the financial givebacks. They’re claiming it’s about “worker’s rights” but the truth is that the legislation no longer allows the union to take a free ride on the backs of the workers. Now, they will be forced to earn the support of their members if they want to keep collecting the dues. If the workers feel that union membership provides value, then it won’t be an issue, but if workers don’t, then the union stands to lose an enormous amount of revenue and power.

In short, this legislation puts them on the endangered species list which is why they’ve put so much effort behind mobilizing resistance.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 12, 2011 3:11 AM
Comment #320043

Kevin,
If you change one word in a contract that contract is void unless and until the entire union votes on it. Otherwise, why not change the word I pay you to You pay me and everything is ok?

No, the reason IMHO that the cut version is not on line is the fact it does not meet the requirements that the Republicans said it did in order to pass it. In fact, if the bill contains the words ” This bill also allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit” than the entire contract is broken due to it changes the fiscal statement. Thus, the whole actions of the Governor and Assembly is in violation of their State Constitution.

So yes, I want to see how Governor Walker can keep his sowrn duty to uphold the State Constitution and take away Collective Bargining Rights without breaking the fiscal statement of the Piblic Workers Contracts. For even taking away their right to talk about a 15 minute break deals with money doesn’t it?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 12, 2011 3:56 AM
Comment #320044

Henry,

Collective bargaining is the process by which the contract is negotiated. Once the contract is agreed to, it’s a done deal and changing the way future contracts are negotiated has no impact whatsoever on the existing one. The only way it could possibly be an issue is if the existing contract included a provision by which the State agreed not to limit collective bargaining, but that is extremely doubtful.

The cut version isn’t online because it was just signed by Governor Walker and has not been published yet. The Secretary of State has 10 days to publish the legislation and he has already stated that he will wait until the last minute to do so, in order to provide adequate time for legal challenges.

When it’s all said and done, the law will take effect because despite what the talking heads may be flooding the airwaves with, I don’t believe that there is a legal basis with which to challenge it. I admit, I’m not an attorney, but I have dealt with many, many contracts and legal concerns in my professional life and based on what I know, I can’t see how a challenge could be upheld.

I could be wrong, but I think the accusations of illegality are baseless political posturing. As you stated previously, it’s about money. If we follow the money, we’ll see that the folks making the accusations are the ones receiving the campaign contributions from the unions, who are the ones that stand to lose vast sums of money and power.

Just my two cents, but it will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 12, 2011 5:03 AM
Comment #320046

Kevin Nye,

I believe that you are correct that the new anti-union bill and pension/health care benefit changes will not run into a post hoc constitutional problems. It is my understanding that contracts with most of the public unions in WI have expired and new collective contracts have not been signed. So, now was the perfect time for Walker to pass the legislation.

There is one question that I have about the Walker anti-union bill that is puzzling. Perhaps, you can answer it. Why have the public unions in WI that constitute the bulk of employee benefits at the local level been exempted from the anti-union provisions? If this is all about fiscal responsibility, why would you exclude the most aggressive and benefit laden unions?

Posted by: Rich at March 12, 2011 7:06 AM
Comment #320051

“I love this. Are there any liberals left on WB who have enough sense to put together a correct thought?
Jlw said:
“Why would Obama back the recall? He has maintained throughout his tenure that he is loath to alienate Republicans because he wishes to compromise with them.”
Organizing for America is Obama’s organization and it has been responsible for stirring up the problems in WI.”

17 it seems you are so far behind you think your first, when it comes to correct thoughts. The meaning of jlw’s comment is very easy to “sense” IMHO. Obama capitulates on a regular basis in his attempts to forge a centrist position with the repubs. The repubs are so ideological driven they refuse to meet in or near the middle and Obama gives in to the conservative thuggery. On such a regular basis,BTW, that these little shows of support for the lefties are meaningless.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 12, 2011 12:28 PM
Comment #320066


j2t2, I would say that Obama’s gestures to the left are meaningless in the same way that the Republicans gestures to many of their constituents are.

They have meaning in that they are attempts to garner support without providing representation. It is a fairly effective strategy.

With this great victory against unions, perhaps the Wisconsin Republicans can privatize social security in the state. States don’t have to abide by unconstitutional laws.

Posted by: jlw at March 12, 2011 4:01 PM
Comment #320071

C&J-
We’re not talking the long run here, we’re talking an immediate fiscal crisis. Does it solve anything right now, other than the problem of how to make Wisconsin a red state in the next election?

Everybody-
Look, if you’re going to make the context argument, make it right. Why is he even mentioning the political angle? Why is he even getting into the subject of the political power of the unions in the first place? Why is that listed as a reason to undermine the bargaining power of the unions?

Why, if it’s just about fiscal numbers?

The Republicans have constantly relied on big money donors, especially the US Chamber of Commerce, to help promote their political efforts. Does that justify Obama going in, and rewriting the tax laws so that organizations like that Chamber are crippled in their power?

The Republicans are so deep into the politicization of politics, in the interests of breaking down Democratic Political power, that they don’t even recognize the level of corruption that has pervaded their politics. Until they renounce special interests themselves, they are simply playing a political game.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 12, 2011 4:39 PM
Comment #320076

Rich,

There is one question that I have about the Walker anti-union bill that is puzzling. Perhaps, you can answer it. Why have the public unions in WI that constitute the bulk of employee benefits at the local level been exempted from the anti-union provisions? If this is all about fiscal responsibility, why would you exclude the most aggressive and benefit laden unions?

Excellent question. As I understand it, the financial portion applies the same to all. As for the collective bargaining piece, I honestly have no idea why it would be different for teachers than it would be for law enforcement and firefighters. One would think that it would make more sense to apply the provision equally. I can only surmise that there was some behind the scenes politics going on.

On second thought though, I’m almost wondering if perhaps the police and firefighters have verbage in their contract that protects their collective bargaining rights (similar to what I alluded to above). That would explain why that provision doesn’t impact them. Perhaps those labor organizations just have better attorneys than the others which resulted in negotiating a stronger contract. This is just speculation on my part of course, but the more I think about it the more it seems to be the most logical possible explanation.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 12, 2011 5:26 PM
Comment #320081

Kevin Nye,

I very much doubt that it was better lawyering on the part of police and fire unions. The legislative authority of WI could not have been compromised by contractual language in a union contract.

I also doubt that it was simple political payback for some of their support in the governor’s recent election. That would be too obvious. Wouldn’t it? However, I do believe it was politically motivated but not in such a tit for tat manner. Police and fire have the ability to motivate public opinion in their favor. Walker wanted to avoid a direct confrontation with a sector of public employees that could rally support in opposition to his plan. Ironic, considering the decades long damage done to public union organizing by the Boston Police strike of 1919.

Otherwise, what could be the motivation?

Posted by: Rich at March 12, 2011 6:18 PM
Comment #320086

Here is an angle that I have seen nobody address.

Police and Fire personnel retire after 20 service most of the time. That means that retirement benefits are paid out when the retiree reaches about 40 years of age. The other public service personnel retire at about 65 years of age.

That comes under the benefits part of their contracts. It is totally a different concept when people retire at 40 versus 65. The language in the contracts of Fire and Police personnel is a whole different language than, let’s say the teacheres or public works employees.

Under non-public safety employees contracts, when one retires another is hired most of the time.

Under public safety employees when one retires at 40 the local government is now paying for retirement benefits plus a new hiree to replace the retired person. The financial burden is a whole lot different.

This is only one reason for the separation of public safety and non-public safety employees.

Posted by: tom humes at March 12, 2011 9:47 PM
Comment #320090

Rich,

I agree, it could be any one of those reasons. Whether it was a political calculation on the part of the GOP or a legal issue of some kind, we’ll probably never know. I know if it was me, I would have pushed for the same treatment for everyone, unless there was a legal issue that prevented it.

As far as the “lawyering” goes, I do believe that’s a possibility. Each labor union retains or employs their own counsel, so the contracts from one employee group to another can vary widely depending on the veracity and priorities of the union and its legal team. I can speak from personal experience that some unions have very poorly written contracts, while others have much stronger agreements, so I don’t think that it’s out of the realm of possibility that the counsel for police and fire unions didn’t just do a better job in making sure the verbiage in their contract stronger.

Once again, I’m just speculating because I honestly have no idea why there’s a difference. As you said, it could just be a political calculation that the GOP made in an attempt to not alienate too many groups of people (which if that was the case, I think it’s fair to say that they failed).

Tom,

You make a great point, but wouldn’t that give them more reason to limit bargaining for police and fire?

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 12, 2011 11:46 PM
Comment #320094

Kevin Nye,

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Walker’s explanation for the exemption was that he didn’t want critical public safety functions disrupted by a union fight. He has refused to elaborate further on that explanation. That explanation is sort of a twist on the “too big to fail” bank moral hazard problem. Most people aren’t buying it and look to political reasons for the exemption. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703726904576192952699125170.html

The article also corrects an assumption that you made in a previous post that the direct fiscal changes, i.e., increased contribution to pensions and health care, but not the collective bargaining sections, applied to police and fire contracts. It does not. The police and fire unions are exempted from both fiscal and organizational impacts of the bill.

Posted by: Rich at March 13, 2011 7:57 AM
Comment #320099

Thanks Rich, that’s a good article. I honestly thought the exemptions were just on the bargaining provisions and not the givebacks as well. As to why, it certainly appears that the answer to the question is “politics”. I understand the reasoning and logic behind it I suppose, but I’d like to think I would have been more consistent.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 13, 2011 3:37 PM
Comment #320102

Kevin Nye,

Appreciate your considerate comments. It always seems that when you scratch an issue deeply enough, it reveals a seamy political underside. That goes for both sides of the political spectrum.

Posted by: Rich at March 13, 2011 5:06 PM
Comment #320108

Rich,

Yes, you are absolutely correct…

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 13, 2011 11:19 PM
Comment #320115

More power to workers in Wisconsin and all across America! The GOP will curse the day they decided to pick a fight with Labor. The People of America deserve so much more than the scraps of the false kings of America. The movement is young, strong, and determined¬.

Posted by: Atlanta Roofing at March 14, 2011 3:54 AM
Comment #320167

Wisconsin is showing us, unequivocally, that the Republicans as well as the Democrats care nothing about representing the American people anymore.

The politics of the left and the right have devolved into a “My way or no way at all” pissing contest, spewing spiffy-sounding jingoistic platitudes at an increasingly ignorant, bitter and misdirected electorate through the power of partisan money-grubbing media bobbleheads and the vapid, ignorant, social-agenda-driven, self-demonstrating fame junkies and corporate executives they speak for.

It used to be that the only difference between Republicans and Democrats was what they were willing to lie about. Now, the only difference is what network they use to spread their lies.

And the bleating sheep just keep on grazing.

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Comment #320385

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