Monday, May 7, 2012

Wisconsin Governor's Recall Potential and the Unions

Here's a curious thing to consider.

The nation's labor unions universally have portrayed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as  a two headed monster for the past year or so. As you know, he proposed and then implemented modest reforms in the area of public sector employees' collective bargaining rights, as well as pension and health care contributions.

So with the June recall election just around the corner, we would have expected that the discussion preceding the upcoming Democratic primary would have been filled with talk of the governor's anti-union positions and why this is bad for all Wisconsinites. Alas, the Dems have largely been silent on this issue. But why?

If only for entertainment purposes, Wisconsin Recall Amnesia is worth reading:

"Remember the Greek-style protests in Madison, the union sit-ins, the lawmakers who fled to Illinois to avoid voting on Scott Walker's collective-bargaining law last year? Now that the recall election of Mr. Walker is in full swing, Big Labor must be wondering where the outrage went.

Since last summer, unions have been throwing millions at defeating the man who reformed collective bargaining for government workers and required union members to pay 5.8% of their paychecks toward pensions and 12.6% of their health insurance premiums, modest contributions compared to the average in private business. As the May 8 Democratic recall primary nears to determine who will run against Mr. Walker on June 5, this should be their rhetorical moment ne plus ultra.

So, let's see. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the front-runner, has focused his campaigns on jobs, education, the environment and "making communities safer." One of Mr. Barrett's ads singles out "Walker's War on Women," with nary a mention of collective bargaining. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is heavily supported by union groups, but even her issues list makes only passing reference to collective bargaining.

No wonder. Since Mr. Walker's reforms went into effect, the doom and gloom scenarios have failed to materialize. Property taxes in the state were down 0.4% in 2011, the first decline since 1998. . . .

The Governor's office has estimated that altogether the reforms have saved Badger State taxpayers more than $1 billion, including $65 million in changes in health-care plans, and some $543 million in local savings documented by media reports. . . .

Some of the good news has been in the schools, because districts have been able to avoid teacher layoffs and make ends meet because of flexibility created by the changes. In the Brown Deer school district, savings created by pension and health-care contributions from employees allowed the school to prevent layoffs and save some $800,000 for taxpayers.

In Fond du Lac, school board president Eric Everson says the district saved $4 million as a result of last year's reforms, including $2 million from the changes in employee contributions to their pensions.

Another 52 schools across the state saved an average of $220 per student thanks to the ability to introduce competitive bidding for health insurance, rather than automatically going through WEA Trust, the favored provider of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. If the savings are even half as large as the Governor's surveys indicate, they are still enormous.

All of this is making an impression on Wisconsin voters. According to a Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, only 12% of Wisconsin voters say "restoring collective bargaining rights" is their priority, which explains the Democratic decision to fight on other issues. . . .

 Mr. Walker's reforms were a modest but necessary response to the state's fiscal problems, and the proof is in the emerging results. The union reaction was so ferocious because the reforms reduced Big Labor's clout over state and local taxpayers and thus its ability to milk taxpayers year after year without challenge.

Democrats and unions will still do all they can to recall Mr. Walker to prove to would-be reformers nationwide that unions can't be crossed. But it speaks volumes that Democrats are running on everything except their real goal—which is to restore the political dominance of government

Summing Up

Are We the People in charge of the government, or are the public sector unions and their Democratic Party allies?

Perhaps the good citizens of Wisconsin will consider who's in control of government and pay attention to the facts when they vote on the recall of Governor Walker in June.

For their sake as well as the sake of their fellow taxpayers and citizens across America, let's hope they send a clear and compelling message by doing just that.

It's time to end union dominance in the public sector, and it's time to teach the unions and their allies the Democratic Party that there's no room for "privileged characters" in America.

And that's especially true in public sector employment which is financed in its entirety by We the People.

Taxpayers and citizens must take the reins.

Being in charge and control is not a job for the public sector unions or their political cronies.

We the People can and must do better than that. Future generations deserve no less.

Thanks. Bob.