Wisconsin: The Big Labor Battleground

Every state in the nation is going through hard financial times.  Some states like Illinois have elected to dramatically increase the already burdensome taxes on their citizens to fill budget gaps.  Other states such as Wisconsin have chosen to take a different approach – an approach that cuts large budget expenditures and prevents them from soaking up taxpayer dollars in the future.

Taking on big problems is never an easy task.  Especially when you are an elected official attempting to interrupt the status quo in order to achieve a smaller, more efficient government.  If Republican Governor Scott Walker had not realized that fact before he certainly has now.

The protest scene in Madison, Wisconsin has been on display for several days now.  Angry union members are so outraged at Walker’s budget plan that they have shut down schools in order to mass together at the state capital.  Keep in mind that these protests are not like the violent tea party protests you have seen before.  These peaceful protests have encouraging words for Governor Walker.   If you believe that then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Take a look for yourself.

You must wonder what Walker proposed to fire up so many union members.  Massive layoffs?  No, they seem to prefer that over the current plan because that is what Walker has claimed the alternative to his plan is.  Union members are pissed off at the same thing that all union members get bent out of shape about – having their pension contributions increased.  In the case of Wisconsin, Walker has proposed increasing their pension contributions to 5.8% of their salary and double their insurance contributions to 12%.  What greed, huh?

After several days of the protests, Democrats offered a compromise to accept the contribution increases in exchange for a compromise on the other key part of Walker’s budget plan – collective bargaining rights.  However, with good reason Walker is not budging!

Collective bargaining is one of the primary reasons Wisconsin (and other states) are in financial trouble in the first place.  It is one thing for workers to unionize and bargain for salary and compensation in the private sector.  That is two private sector parties negotiating on behalf of their own interests.  But when you have government employees with collective bargaining power it is private interests negotiating against the public, or taxpayer dollars.

It is this scam on taxpayer dollars that has allowed government employees to receive salary and benefits packages that far exceed what the private sector would pay.  Walker knows that as long as collective bargaining persists then any agreement on numbers now will only delay the problem for another time.

So now we are back to square one.  Walker is doing exactly what he promised his constituents he would do – take a stand against the excessive budget and out-of-control unions.  He was elected and Republicans gained the majority of the Senate, but fell one short of a quorum.  In light of that, Democrats do what they do best when they are in the minority – whine and complain until they get their way.  This time their tantrum involved leaving the job they were elected by the public to do and fleeing the state, essentially shutting down the government until their compromise demands are met.

Meanwhile, the progressive and liberal machine has kicked in to full gear with the protests in Madison.  AFL-CIO thug Richard Trumka was more than eager to take on the fight against Hitler…or Mubarak…or Walker the Tyrant..or a number of other names the union wackos are calling the governor.  Oh and try not to act surprised when I tell you that Nancy Pelosi and President Obama have dropped their concern for the federal government’s budget crisis (assuming they had any to begin with) to pledge their support for the protesters.  Governor Walker responded to Obama’s comments by saying, “We’re focused on balancing our budget, it would be wise for the president and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budget, which they’re a long way from doing.”

What happens next is hard to say.  The cowardly Democrats are still AWOL so until at least one of them returns the state legislator cannot do much of anything.  Protesters have increased by the thousands, but counter-protests are now forming to show support for Walker and stand against union greed.

This scenario should not be surprising to those who have been paying attention the past couple of years.  Last July I explained what would happen if more people started to rock the boat in order to take on the financial situation this country is in with serious action:

Over the past 100 years progressives have successfully built a class of Americans that are dependent on an unsustainable welfare system.  Eventually (and soon) those programs will have to be significantly cut or eliminated, but do you think progressives will quietly give up on their quest for a “social utopia.”  Not likely.  America could very well witness a violent outlash by radicals if the government tries to disassemble the progressive establishment…

That brings me back to Bloomberg’s statement that the necessary fiscal changes will test “social cohesion.”  Just take a look at Greece to see how true that statement is.   Greece is a clear example of the economic destruction caused by progressives.  Now bankrupt, Greece is attempting to scale back on its excessive spending and overgenerous pensions and social programs.  Government workers responded by breaking out in deadly riots.

Michelle Malkin has pointed out how civil unrest is not new to America and how the “Wisconsin vs. Big Labor” apocalypse moment yet another battleground for progressives to keep their power structure in place:

If ever there were proof that public unions no longer work in the public interest, this is it. Big Labor dragoons workers into exclusive representation agreements, forces them to pay compulsory dues that fatten Democratic political coffers and then has the chutzpah to cast itself as an Egyptian-style “freedom” and “human rights” movement.

Meanwhile, union leaders elsewhere are quietly forcing their low-wage members to share the sacrifice in order to preserve teetering health funds. In New York state, Skidmore College campus janitors, dining service workers and other maintenance employees received late notice from the SEIU that 4.15 percent of their gross earnings will now be deducted from their paychecks to cover the cost of the health plan provided through the behemoth 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund. (If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is one of several privileged SEIU affiliates that has received an Obamacare waiver.)

At the end of the day, there can only be one long-term winner in this showdown.  If any compromise is made to allow unions to keep their power to collectively bargain against the interests of taxpayers then the unions win.  Therefore, Walker and the Senate Republicans must make good on their promise to stand firm against union collective bargaining rights.  Many teachers may be mad, but the majority of taxpayers will eventually thank them for it.