Friday, February 18, 2011

Those Horrible Public Workers-The Happenings in Wisconsin

In case you don't know, the new right-wing Governor of Wisconsin is attacking public employees. He wanted to ram through the Wisconsin legislature stripping the public employees of their right to collective bargain. The response from the public employees is that they have been protesting in Madison about this.

The Governor began this threatening to bring out the NATIONAL GUARD against the protesters, but I guess someone clued him in that that would be a bad idea.

Then, today, the Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate left the state. They straight up left the state. Without them, the Governor can't get a quorum to ram his proposals through.

Make no mistake, this is a concerted effort by Republican Governors to demonize public employees, break their unions, and turn them into serfs just like they want for the rest of the workforce. This much is absolutely clear.

TPM has been really all over this story.

From the beginning:

New Wisconsin GOP Governor Pushes For Massive Rollback Of Worker Rights

Wisconsin's new Republican governor has set a new benchmark in fraying state-union relations in the wake of massive GOP victories in the November elections.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Scott Walker proposed stripping nearly all government workers of their collective bargaining rights. And as a warning shot across the bow, he told Wisconsin reporters Friday that he's alerted the National Guard ahead of any unrest, or in the event that state services are interrupted. Under his plan, which he'll include in his forthcoming budget proposal, most state workers would no longer be able to negotiate for better pensions or health benefits or anything other than higher salaries, which couldn't rise at a quicker pace than the Consumer Price Index.

According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer "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."

He also says this plan is non-negotiable -- as in, he's cut off negotiations with prison guards, teachers and other state workers.

But, why is the budget in such bad shape...because the Governor planned it that way.

Wisconsin Gov. Walker Ginned Up Budget Shortfall To Undercut Worker Rights

Wisconsin's new Republican governor has framed his assault on public worker's collective bargaining rights as a needed measure of fiscal austerity during tough times.

The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures -- service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money -- rolling back worker's bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own. But Walker's doing it anyhow, to knock down a barrier and allow him to cut state employee benefits immediately.

Furthermore, this broadside comes less than a month after the state's fiscal bureau -- the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- concluded that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus. In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office.

"Walker was not forced into a budget repair bill by circumstances beyond he control," says Jack Norman, research director at the Institute for Wisconsin Future -- a public interest think tank. "He wanted a budget repair bill and forced it by pushing through tax cuts... so he could rush through these other changes."

Did you read that? Wisconsin, unlike a whole lot of other states in this union, wasn't really in that bad in financial shape. It was PUT in financial shape, because this right-wing mofo pushed through TAX CUTS that he didn't pay for, and expects PUBLIC EMPLOYEES to not only pay for them, but lose their right to collective bargain in the process.

From the Capitol Times in Madison:

In a Wednesday op-ed, the Capitol Times of Madison picked up on this theme.

In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

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.

There is no fiscal crisis, and whatever so-called crisis exists, was of the Governor's making.

The position of the President?

Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 02/17/2011
Obama: Wisconsin budget fight seems like 'an assault on unions'
By Matt DeLong

During an interview with TMJ4 of Milwaukee that aired Thursday, President Obama weighed in on the rapidly escalating brouhaha over Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wis.) proposal to strip public-sector employees of collective-bargaining rights.

Obama said that while some measures, such as pay freezes for those employees, are "the right thing to do" to combat budget shortfalls, "some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like an assault on unions." He added that "it's important not to vilify" public workers.

Also, OFA is also involved in this.

DNC playing role in Wisconsin protests
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 marraige, 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.

OfA Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said.

To wit, Orange Julius was complaining about POTUS using OFA in this matter. Go somewhere and sit down, Mr. Speaker.

Rachel Maddow did a good couple of pieces on this. The MSM did their best to ignore this story, even though thousands of people had been protesting. If the Democratic legislators hadn't of left, they'd still be ignoring this story.

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