Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Editorials on Walker's Bill

Here's just a few that have come out with editorials. I image more papers will wait for their Sunday editions to address the issue. Nearly all of the papers acknowledge that concessions need to be made by the state workforce. None of them, however, are blind to Walker's efforts that have nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with opportunistic politics. The Northwestern, in particular, comes out swinging.

Wausau Daily Herald:
[T]here are other parts of the budget repair bill that lawmakers should jettison:

• Changes to compensation packages were discussed during the campaign -- changes to fundamental union organizing rules weren't. Those rule changes aren't needed to pass this budget repair bill. They should be introduced separately and allowed a full public debate.

• There appears to be no intellectually consistent justification for the exclusion of police and firefighters unions from compensation changes. Walker's opponents have called it political payback. At the least, though, it is political cowardice inconsistent with Walker's promise to make the hard choices.
 Appleton Post Crescent:
[Parts of the bill have] to do with Walker trying to weaken the unions.

The bill is rife with policy items — proposals that have no direct fiscal impact on the state. Walker has no business putting them in this bill. If they merit passage, they should stand on their own.

We're also troubled by the speed with which this bill is passing through the Legislature. Yes, the state has serious financial problems that need addressing soon. But do legislators, much less the public, understand the impact of each proposal in this bill? Hardly.

Besides the collective bargaining changes, the proposal about medical assistance programs is a big issue. The bill would let the state Department of Health Services make many changes in programs without being passed by the full Legislature. That takes away our rights, through our representatives' votes.
Manitowoc Herald Tribune:
Unions, although not in the position of power they once were, serve a useful purpose by standing up for the rights of workers and providing checks and balances against unbridled power.

Walker should be content with attempting to gain concessions from unions the traditional way, through good-faith bargaining, not by dismantling them.
 Oshkosh Northwestern:

Truth be told, the bill is the beginning of an effort to roll back the right of workers. Its lesser-known provisions set a dangerous precedent for granting the executive branch broad emergency powers where an emergency does not exist. The speed in which the bill is heading from proposal to adoption is also of concern. It is slated for a vote Thursday, just six days after it was released to the public. The fact that a national special interest group, The Club for Growth, began broadcasting ads in support of the proposal at the same time the bill was released shows that this is not a homegrown effort to fix Wisconsin's problems, but an orchestrated, ideologically driven campaign.


You do not need to be sympathetic to public unions to see the danger and unfairness in unilaterally ending collective bargaining rights without a single negotiating session. Not only did the governor refuse to negotiate, he took that approach to the next level by proposing to end the right of some public unions to negotiate on health or pension benefits. Then he plays brazen politics by including some public unions and exempting others. It serves no legitimate purpose other than politics to treat a corrections officer differently than a police officer.

And the governor takes direct aim at the ability of organized labor to remain organized. Currently, state and municipal employees who are represented by a labor organization have union dues deducted from their salaries. Except in the case of public safety employees, Walker's bill prohibits salary deductions for labor organization dues and allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit. These measures are designed solely to destroy unions.

What members of the state legislature have before them is not a budget-balancing bill. It is a sweeping 144-page rewrite of collective bargaining rules and the state civil service system.

Not only does it rewrite state labor relations, but it increases the level of state debt, gives the executive branch the authority to rewrite medical assistance provisions unilaterally and grants other sweeping powers such as allowing the Department of Administration to sell or contract for the operation of state heating, cooling and power plants without oversight from the legislature or the Public Service Commission.

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