Skip to main content

Wisconsin and public unions

That's this week's Scripps Howard column this Ben Boychuk. My take:

Public unions aren't organized against the public. They're organized for their members, workers who can be exploited like other workers.

But public unions face a challenge that private-sector unions don't: The employer, apparently, can unilaterally revoke their bargaining rights.

Why is Gov. Scott Walker trying to take away those rights? Because (the story goes) Wisconsin faces a budget deficit that can't be properly tackled: Overpaid teachers and clerks won't make concessions needed to bring the state's finances under control.

One problem: Almost none of that is true.

Wisconsin government workers aren't overpaid. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute shows the state's public workers are paid about 4.8 percent less than private-sector peers with similar education and experience.

And the unions have said they will make concessions -- accepting cuts in benefits and the adoption of a merit-pay system for teachers. Why won't Scott Walker take accept that for an answer? Look at the details of Walker's proposal. All the public unions will have their bargaining rights taken away -- except for the police and firefighters unions whose members tend to support Republicans. The governor is plainly using his office to break the backs of a constituency that usually supports the Democratic Party. This is ugly stuff.

Private-sector workers shouldn't think these efforts are limited to public employees. GOP union-busting knows no bounds -- the Republican-controlled House in Washington D.C. last week tried and failed to eliminate funding for the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces laws that let workers unionize.

Unions helped create a vibrant middle class in America. The middle class is faltering these days, and Republicans want Americans to believe it's the fault of lowly DMV file clerks and overworked teachers. It's not. If Republicans get their union-busting way, the pain will only get worse for all of us.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…