Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's at stake in the Wisconsin recall election today

Great essay on the ideas at issue in the recall election today in Wisconsin.


Prior to Walker’s reforms, state and local-government employees paid nothing or very little toward their pensions and paid only slightly more than 6 percent of their health-care premiums. According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, the average Wisconsin government employee earned $71,000 in total compensation in 2011. That same year, average total compensation for employees of the state’s largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, reached $101,091. Walker helped close the state’s $3.6 billion deficit by requiring public employees to pay 5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. He also required state employees to pay 12.6 percent of their health-insurance premiums — less than half the average both in the private sector and for federal-government employees.
But the most controversial part of Walker’s plan was its sharp curtailing of union power, and in particular collective bargaining. Prior to Walker’s law, all government workers were required to join unions and pay dues, and unions were able to negotiate all conditions of employment — wages, benefits, work rules. Walker made union membership optional, eliminated the automatic deduction of union dues, and ended collective bargaining for everything but wages. Today, the unions are still able to negotiate wages for all employees (including non-members), but governments may decide for themselves how to handle work rules and other forms of compensation, and employees may decide for themselves whether to give money to the unions.  
The issues at stake in the election are straightforward. Walker is insisting on good government, fiscal sanity and respect for the right of workers not to be forced by law to give money to unions.

This election is very important. I pray Walker wins. 

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