Saturday, February 12, 2011

(Dictator) Scott Walker kicks unions out, changes state workers' bargaining rights

Scott Walker is nothing more than a bully. His move yesterday to bypass the collective bargaining process, to essentially tell state and local employees that there will be no negotiations regarding their contracts, pensions, health plans, and so forth, is nothing more than a direct assault upon unions, both within the public and private sectors.

What Walker is essentially saying is that, rather than come up with a package that will be agreeable, at least to some extent, between both government leaders and the union that represents government workers (from teachers to snow plow drivers to prison guards), he will instead come up with his own package without any input from the very workers he employs as governor of this state.

Simply put, it's Dictator Walker's decision, and ONLY his decision, which matters. State workers can only depend upon his benevolence to have a decent wage, pension or health care plan.

Unfortunately for state and local government employees, benevolence is the wrong descriptor for Walker's plan. Workers will now have to contribute 5.8 percent of their paycheck towards their pension plan, as well as 12 percent towards their health premium.

That amounts to nearly one-fifth of a state employee's income. The move, touts Walker, saves the state nearly $30 million.

If Walker was truly worried about the state's budget deficits (currently at $3.6 billion, which means this whole mess is hardly a dent in anything), he'd consider different ways of raising revenue in conjunction with gutting wasteful spending, not cutting the benefits of workers that communities across the state depend upon.

He'd also be wise not to threaten the use of the National Guard in order to implement these changes. Such a move is downright dirty, reminiscent of the union-busting days of past.

Scott Walker's refusal to negotiate the changes, to make his own decisions without any input from union leaders, is disgraceful. At a time when Wisconsin families need help more than ever, Scott Walker spits in the eyes of his own employees, making their personal budgets even tighter than before.

The message by Walker? Workers have no rights, cannot negotiate at all the conditions of their contracts. The message is clear: In Wisconsin, Dictator Walker has the final, and only, say.

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