In a spectacle that will be sure to be remembered for years to come, Wisconsin lawmakers literally FLED THE STATE in order to avoid voting on a measure to basically allow public sector employees to be treated like the rest of us – you know, contribute money to retirement and health care, get raises in line with inflation and not be forced to pay union dues – just like private sector employees. Here are the facts:
- 16 Wisconsin State Senators (14 Dems) were no-shows for a vote on a Bill that had previously cleared the Joint Finance Committee
- Because at least one Democrat is required in order for the vote to proceed, it was stalled. Police were dispatched to find them. However, since the police don’t have jurisdiction across state lines, it is alleged that they have all left the state (whereabouts unknown). [Seriously, they fled their state to forestall a vote. This is insane]
- Key Bill provisions removed “collective bargaining” from some public sector unions (excluding police, firefighters)
- Pension contributions would increase from 0.2% to 5.8% and health care premiums would go from around 5% to 12.6% of the cost of premiums
- Pay raises would be limited to the rate of inflation unless voted upon via public referendum to increase beyond that
- Unions would lose the right to have dues deducted from worker paychecks and collective bargaining would apply only to wages
- At least 15 School systems had to cancel classes because teachers staged a coordinated sick-out. In some districts, over 40% of the employees called out sick
While these measures may seem draconian at first glance, it’s kinda just like – how the rest of us live. We contribute to our own retirement, pay monthly toward health care costs, and get raises roughly in line with inflation (or at least market demands). Employers only pay their employees enough to retain them. Public sector unions rarely have trouble with retention – because it’s such a sweet gig! I always hear this stuff about how teachers need more money and need union protection, etc. What a joke! My wife became a teacher because she knew she’d love teaching – and found the union issues to be utterly ridiculous. The bottom line is that without these changes, there will be thousands of layoffs and the costs and obligations will come home to roost again in the future. It’s kick the can down the road or deal with it now. By not showing up to work and demanding above-market pay, above-market benefits and basically extorting the public in a concerted fashion, they’re not doing themselves any favors. The big question is when will other states follow suit. Wisconsin’s taking a page out of Chris Christie’s book – (see where he takes on union extortion). I usually defend teachers against some of the more common and inaccurate forms of criticism, but walking out like this isn’t about the kids. It’s extortion plain and simple. Thousands of kids missed class; thousands of parents had to make emergency plans for their children and these teachers work for the public which they seem to have forgotten.
Any Cheeseheads Out There? What’s It Like Out There This Week?