20 lies from Scott Walker

A heavily-linked and cited list of 20 lies told by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker makes for good Sunday reading. The cynicism and manipulation from Walker and his handlers has been really depressing, an attack on hard-working people who earn less than their private-sector counterparts, who made concessions, and who are in no way responsible for the budget shortfall in the state.
Walker: claims that states without collective bargaining having fared better in the current bad economy.

The truth: According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the 11 states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20% (Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina). Another, South Carolina, comes in at a sizable 17.4%. Nevada, where state employees have no collective bargaining rights (but local employees do) has the largest percentage shortfall in the country, at 45.2%. All in all, eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than Wisconsin.

Walker: Public employees are more richly compensated than their public sector counterparts.

The truth: According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants such as education and work experience. State workers typically are under-compensated by 8.2% in Wisconsin.

20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker (Thanks, @Sally_J!)

(Image: Wisconsin Pro-Workers Rally, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from wxmom's photostream)


    1. If I was the Dems, I don’t know how I could believe them. I mean, Walker already said he wanted to bring the Dems back to “negotiate” and then sneakily pass the bill behind their back. It’s not that much slimier to say, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to vote no…” and then once there’s a session again, “PSYCHE! YES, SUCKERS!”

  1. Oh, but you’re citing examples of reality here, Cory. Reality has a known liberal bias. In their gut everyone knows that unions are greedy leeches so that must be the real truth. Anyway that’s what my TV says.

  2. “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” -FDR

    It’s also a bit disingenuous to say “Public employees are more richly compensated than their public sector counterparts.” is a lie if you only compare salaries. Compensation may also include pensions and health benefits (after retirement) and are often not common in the private sector.

    1. Not so. Comparing only wages would indeed be disingenuous, but that’s not what the cited study does. “Comparing wages is insufficient because employee compensation increasingly includes employer-provided nonwage benefits. Regardless of how employees are paid—whether in wages or benefits—the essential issue in making a comparison is what it costs a private or public sector entity to employ an individual.” Public employees receive a larger fraction of their compensation in the form of benefits, and even when this is included they are undercompensated with respect to private sector employees of similar educational levels.

      So Entrope: Walker’s comparison is still not true.

      1. The OP states 8.2% less. The actual memo states 4.2% less when benefits are included: http://www.epi.org/page/-/old/policy/EPI_PolicyMemorandum_173.pdf

        Non-tangible benefits like “job security” can’t be included. So is 4.2% less pay worth better job security? The unions seem to think so.

        I do like the EPI’s OP that it would be to Walker’s best interest to let the individuals decide what should be cut rather than cutting their bargaining rights.

        @ROSSINDETROIT I’m with you on raising the private sectors benefits rather than lowering all others comp but economically this isn’t always a viable solution. I hate monopolistic greedy corporations as much as any one but also see the need to balance budgets with reality.

        I still agree with FDR though on Public Unions since it pits them vs. tax payers.

        1. “Never once in these years, in this the biggest consolidated construction job ever undertaken directly by the national Government, has there been a substantial interruption to the continuance of your labors. This Dam, all the dams built in this short space of years, stand as a monument to the productive partnership between management and labor, between citizens of all kinds working together in the public weal. Collective bargaining and efficiency have proceeded hand in hand. It is noteworthy that the splendid new agreement between organized labor and the Tennessee Valley Authority begins with the words “The public interest in an undertaking such as the TVA always being paramount …” ”


          What Roosevelt is saying in the quote you agree with so steadfastly may not be exactly what you think the quote is saying. I would refer you, in particular, to the words “as usually understood”.

          1. Touch̩ РI got my quote from conservative talk radio. (bad choice on my part). Did you get yours from Media Matters? FDR was a poor example to use on my paper. I still disagree though that public unions are a great idea. I do see their value just as I see the private sectors. It just unfortunate we continue to use special interest groups to get what we want even if it means destroying everything.

        2. [I’ll preface by saying that I’m not a labor specialist or anything–I just have access to Google]. It seems that many studies I’ve seen on the compensation issue point to the same basic trend: public-sector union members tend to earn less in wages/salaries but more in benefits, vacation time, etc. The net result being that public-sector union members tend to have higher total compensation packages than their private-sector counterparts, ceteris paribus. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal , USA Today, etc. all have stories that indicate this.

          In light of many sources (both left and right) that conflict with this data, I’m leery of trusting the EPI data cited here, as they are “non-partisan but progressive” and a quick search on their site for “union” comes back with pages of pro-union hits, Is this a fair-and-balanced look at the issue, or is it possible that they may be biased? http://www.epi.org/pages/search-results?cx=015558559618892733220:i4e_hgfdlha&cof=FORID:9&ie=UTF-8&q=unions&sa=

        3. if you’re going to abstract one side out a few degrees (public employees unions v. taxpayers), you ought to abstract ot the other side too. both.

          Teachers are taxpayers. it’s taxpayers v. taxpayers.

          Kids are taxpayers too.

          Your view divides, so I question your goal. what is your goal?

    2. “Compensation may also include pensions and health benefits (after retirement) and are often not common in the private sector.”

      Which features used to be ordinary compensation for private sector workers. if public employees have more than private sector it’s not because they got more, it’s because the compensation of comparable private sector employees has fallen drastically. The solution to this is not to mow everyone down to the same low level to achieve equality.
      Regarding the pensions, they are funded by the employees, not by the state and therefore are not a subject for discussion in cost saving.
      Traditionally, public sector workers are compensated slightly less than their private sector equivalents. This is because they have better job security. This was the accepted arrangement for generations.
      Governor Walker has faked up a crisis and claims that he needs to cut labor costs, and that5 the unions are the problem. When the employees offered to meet his cost reduction requests, he refused to discuss it unless collective bargaining was also abandoned forever. It’s not about the money. It’s about breaking the backs of the unions.

    3. if you read the fucking article you’d understand the idiocy of what you said there.

      so read the fucking article.

      1. and, i’m not calling you an idiot. I’m saying with a little effort and some respect for those you disagree with, you would sound well informed, rather than what you sounded like there, which was willfully misinformed.

        1. Thanks mdh. I did read the article and I’m not too worried about sounding like I did. I do woefully regret using the FDR quote after reading that ass-hat Glenn Beck used it and pmonkallstars put my quote in a proper context. In all honesty though I’m not a fan of FDR anyways so I should not spoken on what I didn’t know in full. None the less, I don’t feel it detracts from any of my arguments.

          1. I could have been more clear. I see that you responded (to another comment) about to the thing that made me thing you hadn’t read it.

            My real problem here is this: why do unions have to prove that unions help student performance, but budget cutters don’t have to prove that changing the rules will help student performance?

            The reason the reaction is so visceral is that there is a real shortage of facts about, research projections about, or educational impacts OF these cuts. It’s about money, it’s supposed to be about education.

            If it looked like sound long term thinking, people would support it. Since it looks like partisan hackery, people are in the streets.

  3. It sounds like the first argument is based on state tax revenues. Texas is in better shape than it might seem because its overall tax level is low — it could raise taxes to eliminate its budget shortfall, but as a policy preference would rather reduce spending. Louisiana is in a world of hurt thanks to the Obama administration’s (arguably illegal) refusal to process new oil drilling permits. Making comparisons of budget shortfalls as a percentage of government revenue is naive. Why not choose the denominator as state domestic product instead of tax revenue instead? (Probable answer: Because that would support Walker’s claim.)

    As donotclickjim points out, state employees get a lot of non-salary compensation. Job security, very good pensions, good health care… those aspects of compensation are what Walker was including in his comparison.

    In my opinion, “good Sunday reading” does not start with misreading a political opponent’s arguments and proceeding to beat up on a straw man.

    1. Louisiana is in a world of hurt because our government wastes money on useless things, not to mention the governor’s expensive trips. Heck, just recently they “upgraded” the school board building by throwing about 10 mil at it instead of increasing teacher salaries, and then they also built a school when we don’t have enough teachers to teach at it because of said salaries.

    2. I took you up on your suggestion, and looked up the most recent GSP stats I could find (2009, sorry I don’t have 2010 numbers, trends show nothing relatively changed). I want to point out that I don’t categorize myself among any of the four directional political orientations from the Nolan Chart. I’m also a bit of a math/data nut. I also just drank 20 oz of coffee and I have more energy and time on this cold, overcast Sunday than I know what to do with. So, why the hell not.

      Of US GSP (Gross State Product), Winsconsin defines the 50th percentile by having the 26th highest per capita GSP, though it does falls under the mean US per capita GDP by $2,300 (this is very slight in comparison to the overall spread of GSP). Of the 22 right-to-work states (I broadened the comparison category to all right-to-work states, not just non-collective bargaining ones; it makes your argument look better, and I think it’s more fairly representative than used in the article), only 4 are in the top 20, the next 4 are 22-25, and 14 of the 22 are below Wisconsin.

      For the 2011 shortfalls, of the 22 right-to-work states, only 2 have a higher percent shortfall-to-total-GSP burden than Wisconsin (Nevada and North Carolina). It also works out that those two states also have a higher shortfall-to-per-capita burden.

      For the projected FY2012 shortfalls, of the 22 right-to-work states, you can add Louisiana and Texas to that list as well, making four.

      You are right in suggesting that this would show a nearly diametrically opposite view than the numbers provided by the CBPP article linked here. **(However, I should also point out that you are incorrect in suggesting the article compared shortfalls to revenue, as it actually compares shortfalls to the total expenditures, you would first need to subtract the shortfall from the total budget then recalculate to get shortfalls-to-revenue — this would actually drive the percentages listed dramatically higher; in Nevada’s case, the result would be over 100% for FY11 [as in, the shortfall itself is greater than the incoming revenue]).

      Of course, your suggestion had a forgone conclusion, and was as fundamentally skewed as the method used in the article — just oppositely (i.e. of course a smaller government budget in an economic downturn means a higher percentage of that budget is a shortfall; and of course a smaller budget means that any smaller shortfall can be better distributed across the same population).

      However, I should also point out that when you calculate the shortfall per capita back into the per capita GSP Wisconsin falls all the way from 26th place down to (wait for it…) 27th. That’s because the per capita shortfall is only $316.51 (while the GSP single standard deviation is $5500). Not only that, but sliding one place really doesn’t affect its standing in comparison to right-to-work states. 13 remain below WI, and only 9 remain above (Wisconsin actually switches places with Iowa, having been directly above it earlier).

      What does all this mean?

      It means that Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and Florida are economically the most middle of the road states in the Union today. Wisconsin is not dramatically worse off than everyone else, and it also is not dramatically better off, either.

      The truth is, Wisconsin could easily achieve its shortfalls by raising taxes a rather minimal amount (along with 42 other states whose shortfalls are less than $500 per capita). This is the first modern recession the US has faced where taxes have been cut overall, particularly among corporations and the wealthy. But the government needs money in order to operate. I don’t see where people aren’t understanding this absolute fact.

      The public workers in Wisconsin have made clear their desire to make the monetary sacrifice. This is more than can be said for the billionaires in WI hoarding “their” wealth. But to remove collective bargaining from these workers means that when the overall economy does recover they will have zero power to negotiate their own personal recovery.

      Gov Walker’s fight is clearly not a monetary one, when there are very simple solutions available to him, particularly ones that actually increase government revenue to overcome the shortfall. His conspiratorial political spin on this, his incredibly underhanded tactics to entrap the Democratic legislators, his refusal to find a genuine compromise, his shady efforts to allow a Koch Industries power monopoly, and his desire to pit the middle class against itself are totally reprehensible and undemocratic. This is many, many times worse than the way the Federal Democrats handled the health-care bill.

      I said above I don’t personally lean Democratic, Socialist, or Libertarian — and with Gov Walker at the helm of the public perception of the GOP, I am truly thankful I don’t lean Republican, if he’s the way things are in that party today (ok, to be fair, him, Sarah Palin, and Glen Beck). He is fraudulent, and if I were a Wisconsonite myself, I would support a recall. Honestly, I think he should be jailed. Democracy does not function through hostage tactics.

      Corporations, like 3M, that are threatening to take their ball and leave the US, are using the same shenanigans Gov Walker is. These organizations have the lowest tax burden they have held in decades, are often financially bailed out (by the gub’mint), and allow their executives million dollar bonuses and/or severance packages for failure. Yet they don’t seem to have any pride for the nation that built them when they aren’t willing to make sacrifices themselves to help the entire country out of a financial situation they mostly caused (the last decade of war didn’t economically help, I should also point out). Where is their patriotism, their American Pride, if they are to just get up and abandon us at the first sign of inconvenience to them? I really don’t have any inkling why the Tea Partiers (who pride themselves on patriotism) support these corporations (or at least support the politicians that support them) that are so despotic. From an Independent’s perspective, it literally baffles me ¯\(o_O)/¯. But I’m getting off topic.

      Right now I am a private worker, I do make above the median US income. My benefits are all personally negotiated. But at the same time, I see the people of our country need as much support as I can give them right now, and I allow both the federal government and my state government to keep my tax returns (which more than cover my per capita burden) as well as providing what I can to NGO social charities. I personally appreciated the Bush era tax cuts and the additional tax relief efforts, and made use of them while they were there. But taxes aren’t evil, and now the wave has cycled through 180 degrees of phase and I see the government needs support. OK, great, it supported me, now I can return what I can to hopefully help everyone. (I’ve also spent my time unemployed during the downturn).

      The last thing I feel should be done is to allow the government to bleed out in hard times and totally destroy social equity and safety. I think the majority of the wealthy in this country have forgotten that the United States demands equality, and our people will cry out for it.

      (Financial stats from Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/regional/)
      (Pop data from 2010 census: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/apportionment-pop-text.php)
      Trending data: http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm

      OK, that filled 3 hours of my Sunday, now to find something else to do. I think the caffeine rush is passing.

    3. Louisiana’s budget crisis has little to do with oil and gas permits; there were rounds of budget cuts before the permit moratorium.

      The people of Louisiana voted to amend the state constitution to eliminate state sales tax on food, utilities, and pharmaceuticals. The amendment replaced revenue by adjusting income tax tables for individuals making $80K or more per year.

      Those individuals didn’t like paying taxes, so they got the state legislature to repeal the tax. This resulted in a $358M in lost revenue, which was immediately followed by $341M in budget cuts, mostly coming from healthcare and education. It’s this lost state revenue that has resulted in recent rounds of budget cuts.

      As a personal note, I work for the state and take home hourly pay that is less than the federal minimum wage with no benefits. When my employer closes for its several holidays, I don’t get paid. My job description is listed under civil service and budgeted within my department. I’ve been temping for five years, while my employers leave the civil service positions open for budgetary savings (i.e. playing politics). If I were civil service, I’d be able to say no to some of the supervisory and technically-skilled work (HTML, computer maintenance, etc) above my job description, and I’d be paid $45-50K solely for my administrative work. In the private sector, I’d make more than that. My wife works a similar job for the same pay, also with the state.

      We are two college-educated public servants searching for a fifth steady income between us so we can try to eat and pay some bills, maybe start a family. This is what a history of union-busting and a right-to-work state gets you: a race to the bottom. There is power in a union.

      1. The people of Louisiana voted to amend the state constitution to eliminate state sales tax on food, utilities, and pharmaceuticals. The amendment replaced revenue by adjusting income tax tables for individuals making $80K or more per year. Those individuals didn’t like paying taxes, so they got the state legislature to repeal the tax.

        Some old Greek guy predicted this. He also said the next phase of the Cycle after democracy is a tyranny. Which often starts with a Reign of Terror, which is… oh, wait, I’m letting the cat out of the bag again, aren’t I?

        Carry On and Be Afraid.

  4. Anecdotal evidence of one ahead…

    Back in 1996 when I was an undergraduate studying math my family, several of whom were teachers, encouraged me to go into teaching because they knew it was something I enjoyed and they wanted me to have a fulfilling career. My grandparents, former teachers, flat out told me that the pay was terrible, the hours were long, every year you would have at least one insane parent and their horrible precious flower child, but the one really bright spot was that you would have a decent retirement. By that time, 1996, the Texas Teacher Retirement system had already been gutted enough that that argument was not really true.

    I decided against teaching and went into corporate finance. My starting base pay was $62k a year. In addition to that I received fully paid for medical, profit sharing, bonuses, discounted stock purchasing, etc, etc. My total compensation, year one, was over $120k a year, about triple what my teaching compensation would have been. By year five my base pay (benefits had not diminished) was 90k a year. I wouldn’t have reached that level of compensation as a teacher even after 40 years.

    I’m exactly the type of person we want going into teaching. Bright, educated in math and science, natural teaching abilities, creative, hard working, patient, etc, etc. Who are we trying to attract to become teachers? The type of people who are willing to settle for a starting salary of 28k as a college graduate? What’s that adage…You get what you pay for?

    Holy hell, no way am I going into a profession where your pay starts low and doesn’t go anywhere fast. Where you are abused by a percentage of parents and have little to no recourse to end your relationship with them like you would have in the private sector. And now that the public is screaming like banshees about this “egregious” benefits package? Well, it’s official, there’s next to nothing left in the teaching profession to attract enough of the right type of people to fill the positions. We will still get a few that are there purely for the love of the job, but likely they will become jaded fast and lose momentum to continue to be outstanding at their job. More and more we’ll get the bottom of the barrel into those positions, our children will suffer today, and as they become the managers, workers and leaders of tomorrow our whole country will suffer.

    1. Bravo.

      I know you prefaced your comment by acknowledging it was anecdotal, but wow–very well said. I think people really need to hear this perspective more now than ever.

      Oh, and now that you’ve made so much money, why not give to charity by becoming a public teacher? ;)

      1. Ha! Just last year I left the private sector and now do budget work for our local government (and I took a MONSTROUS paycut to do so). I did it because I was tired of working toward the mantra of “your job is to do what’s best for the shareholder” and wanted a position where my contributions would improve the community in which I live.

        Another interesting anecdote of one… Prior to taking this position I was firmly anti-union, believing they limited a firm’s ability to be competitive and were generally unreasonable and thugish. Boy did a childhood under Reagan work!

        Now I sit on the management side of the table during negotiations for a couple of our unions. It didn’t take long for me to begin to see the value and importance of those unions. Sure there were some instances of long reaches during negotiations, but these were by and large bargained to a compromise where both the workers and management came out ahead. And that is what I have discovered working so closely with unions. What happens at that bargaining table is a truly amazing thing. The workers have a voice and are able to fight for safe working conditions, reasonable allowances to avoid abuse by management, and yes better compensation. Management can’t just poke their head in the door and say, “oh, by the way we’re going to reduce your medical this year.” In order for management to achieve that sort of decision they have to bargain with the employees or they have to demonstrate to an arbitrator that it is necessary and reasonable. The employees have power, they don’t just have to take it. Now I see that all employees should be unionized.

        Another great benefit of public employee unions is they shield workers, and in the long run the public, from the sheer stupidity and self-serving interests of politicians. Our current leader has higher political aspirations than his current position. This has resulted in him making numerous decisions that are not in the best interest of the community but are the ones that will garner him the best headlines. The unions protect against this idiocity. They stabilize the organization over the volatility of various administrations.

        At my dentist’s office the other day they asked me what my job was and I told them I do government budget. One of the receptionists made a disparaging remark about government waste, yadda yadda. I asked her if she could tell me three areas where the particular branch of government I work for was providing services. She couldn’t name one. This is who is screaming that taxes are too high and that the government is wasteful. It’s people who can’t even name one service provided, yet somehow they are experts on the budget. Selfish, willfully ignorant people.

        1. Great comments both, thank you for sharing. Our stories are strikingly similar – I’ve got a great education, a family steeped in public service, and when I finished school I also turned away from teaching to enter the private sector. And now I make more money (at the age of 27) than anyone else in my family ever has. I also pay more taxes than they do, which I think is a good thing…

          Anyway, I think I’d be OK with the paycut, but all the other crap – I dunno. I’m going to have to think about that some more.

    2. Holy hell, no way am I going into a profession where your pay starts low and doesn’t go anywhere fast. Where you are abused by a percentage of parents and have little to no recourse to end your relationship with them like you would have in the private sector. And now that the public is screaming like banshees about this “egregious” benefits package?

      The unions are not going to make teaching desirable for you either. What we want is a system that drives away bad teachers and retains good ones. Awesome benefits packages certainly encourage more people to become teachers, but the benefit of this is utterly lost when you can’t hire and fire bad teachers.

      Personally, the most objectionable thing I find about unions is their staunch resistance to anything but seniority based compensation. It doesn’t encourage anything but loyalty to the union (which is why they love it). As the guy who actually has to shell out money for the teachers, I want them to be hired and fired based upon merit, not how long they have held the position.

      Fix it so that the best teachers are retained and get pays bumps and bad teachers are fired, and I think you will see the resistance and anger towards teacher unions drop. Of course, once we enter into a system based upon merit instead of seniority, the appeal of unions rapidly diminishes from the employee perspective.

      1. “Personally, the most objectionable thing I find about unions is their staunch resistance to anything but seniority based compensation.”

        This is simply not true. I don’t know about Wisconsin public school teachers, but I do know about Ohio university teachers, and pay is tied to performance–assuming that you can get tenure.

  5. NC has been having budget issues years before the economy went into the crapper…

    Amazingly at one time we actually had a surplus…which didn’t last many years. You know burning a hole in the governments pocket and all.

  6. I heard a great quote on NPR a couple days ago, but I can’t remember who said it and haven’t been able to find it. To paraphrase, “Why is the private sector considered the gold standard by which we determine how well employees should be treated?”

  7. “… in no way responsible”? Really? In a state where the unions have pretty much run things = for a while… and they presumably they vote for legislators, governors, and muni govts who continually spent money like drunken sailors (sorry sailors!) no responsibility? I know in the fevered imaginations of conspiracy theorists single individuals rub their hands to screw over the little man, but in reality a selfish, distracted electorate kept electing a bunch of d-bags (on both sides of the aisle) and cared not one whit about the bar tab. That tab is due.

    And less than what private sector employees? on what planet? yes in current salary, but very few get the rich defined comp plans these folks get. It’s not the current crunch… it’s the one coming down the road we can no longer afford.

    Again… teachers working for 9 months for 6 figure packages are hardly Appalachian coal miners.

    1. “Again… teachers working for 9 months for 6 figure packages are hardly Appalachian coal miners. ”

      Hey with the currently rising prices in crude oil the coal miners might have better job security…

      I still find it “odd” that we all talked about how hard it is to be a teacher, yet we never say how much d-bag parenting is causing it….

    2. Less than private sector employees with roughly equivalent education and experience. Benefits and salaries included. Are teachers paid more than the average private sector employee overall? Yes, but that’s because ‘average private sector employee’ includes everyone from nuclear physicist to wall street finance wizard to janitors and fry cooks. And since there are a whole lot more janitors and fry cooks out there it tends to bring the average down.

      But since it’s apparently terrible how much more teachers are making than private sector employees, tell us who their pay should be equivalent to? Janitor? Hopefully not. Auto mechanic? Who?

      Personally, they should be paid at a rate that attracts the best and brightest and makes it a competitive career. The smartest out there should be fighting to become teachers. Unfortunately, being able to teach math means they can also do the numbers and right now that means look for a better career.

    3. “In a state where the unions have pretty much run things = for a while… and they presumably they vote for legislators, governors, and muni govts who continually spent money like drunken sailors (sorry sailors!) no responsibility?”

      The problem is not particularly Wisconsin’s spending: it’s the decrease in collection caused by the collapse of the private sector.

      Is there spending that can be ironed out? Sure. Obviously, tough times demand sacrifices. But this whole “spent money like drunken sailors” argument is fraught with ignorance (sorry ignoramuses!).

      It’s also worth noting that Walker is doing his fair share of drunken sailoring by spending a substantial sum of money (e.g. on rushing highway improvements) and making some major cuts in collection. Have you read the bill? Here’s the brief if you’d like to know more.

    4. Again… teachers working for 9 months for 6 figure packages are hardly Appalachian coal miners.

      I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here: teachers should be getting 6-figure salaries. Not only are they teaching the kids, yadda yadda, highly educated, etc., but they are the most trustworthy people in society as a result of the tight scrutiny the public puts on the classroom. But no, they’re overpaid and they don’t do enough.

  8. For the benefit of those of us outside the US who have absolutely no idea what this story is that keeps appearing is about, can someone post a short summary? As far as I’m concerned Scott Walker is a great singer …

    1. Republicans won in the state of wisconsin’s last election cycle and Scott Walker became the governor. The leaders of the house and senate are brothers and their dad is head of state patrol.

      Walker pushed through a bill earlier this year that gave huge tax breaks to businesses that was not offset by other revenue.

      Then Walker proposes the budget repair bill which is what all the current strife is about.

      Walker says that is about money and the unions say it is about busting the unions. In the bill one of the key provisions unions are rightly concerned about is prohibiting collective bargaining and mandating that unions have to vote every year to see if they still want to be a union.

      All the public unions are covered in this bill except the three that donated or supported to Scott Walker.

      The right wants people to think it is just about money and that fat cat union snow plow drivers, prison guards make too much money and are bitching about having to contribute to health care and pensions.

      The left points out that they will give in to all the monetary demands regarding pension contributions and health care contributions but stand firm on collective bargaining.

      The collective bargaining is important to unions because it gives workers a voice in the workplace regarding important things to them like safe working conditions (prison guards) and class sizes (teachers).

      The demonstrations have been remarkably non-violent and have gone on for quite a while now.

      A blogger for Forbes magazine ( a conservative business magazine ) has stated that Scott Walker has lost: http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/03/04/gov-scott-walker-has-lost-the-war/

      Yes the state has a budget shortfall and sacrifices need to be made but the public employees benefits are what most people used to have 30-40 years ago in the US before wall street raided companies for their pension accounts.

    2. Wisconsin’s governor turned a budget surplus into a deficit by giving tax cuts to corporations. He then proceeded to claim that the only way to solve this crisis was a bill that would cut collective bargaining rights from most public-sector unions (and, even moire worrying, it would give him the power to privatize jobs to corporations of his choice with no oversight.)

      This bill has made many people very unhappy, and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Currently, there are mass protests going on in Wisconsin’s capitol about it.

      Wisconsin’s senate (now dominated by the governor’s party, the republicans)was about to vote on the bill, but the fleeing of all democratic senators halted the vote, since the senate is required to have at least one senator from each party in order to have a vote.

      As it is now, everything’s at a stalemate. Protests are ongoing, the democratic senators are still out-of-state, and everyone is wondering what happens next.

  9. The right wing is just bitter that they have to pay for labor. Modern conservative capitalism will not rest until this labor cost inefficiency has been eliminated once and for all. Paying your workers just gets in the way of profits.

  10. It has been really hard to read about Walker and his actions over the last month. I am from Idaho and we have the same union-busting bills being pushed through our legislature. There have been protests and the public is against the bills at a rate of about 8 against, 2 for. The bills in our state are part of the continuing push to privatize the country’s public educational system. Idaho got a little press on Democracy Now but past that there has been little about our struggles. I want everyone to know that I have fervently studied this movement for at least 7 hours every day (I am a student and my other studies have fallen behind due to the protests, letter writing, etc). I know that Idaho is not exactly at the forefront of everyone’s mind due to our small population and unusually uneducated voting base but I urge everyone to study what has happened here in my state and treat your own state as the next potential target for this type of legislation. I have no reason to believe that this privatization movement will not continue in your state next and I deeply wish that people would fight it.

    Some reading:


    The Death and Life of the Great American School System -Diane Ravitch

  11. All of this is beside the point. Wisconsin has a huge budget problem. The duly-elected governor and duly-elected legislature has a plan to fix this, and that is to reduce compensation for public employees. This is NOT an attack on public employees. It is simply a budget maneuver. Please remove your emotions from the situation. The economy sucks. The punchbowl has been taken away. Why should only the private sector suffer? Public servants are just that – they serve the public. The taxpayers are paying the bill. And now, there just isn’t enough taxpayer money to keep funding what has been previously funded. If I lose my job, and then stop getting weekly manicures, would you consider that an attack on the manicure shop? No! It’s budget reality. Period.

    1. If I lose my job, and then stop getting weekly manicures, would you consider that an attack on the manicure shop? No!

      I hate to break it to you, but hospitals, schools, prisons, and water management facilities are much more important to the country, its corporations, and its citizens than your manicure shop.

      A slightly more apt comparison would be to say this:

      “If I took a paycut and then refused to pay the grocery store’s price for food, would you consider that reasonable?”

      Then we could have a discussion… but it’d be a lot like the discussion we’re already having, which you apparently don’t want.

    2. I suggest you take a more thorough look at the full process that has occurred before you make blanket statements such as you have. Your information source is poor.

      Before the dems left the state in an effort to forestall the vote, they (along with all the unions you’ve opted to demonize here) in under a week offered to make every financial concession that was requested by the governor in the bill. He refused the offer, because they were not willing to back down on the matter of collective bargaining which (drum roll please)

      Has. No. Immediate. Financial. Impact. Whatsoever.

      So, the duly-elected governor (who’d been in office under two months at the start of this fiasco, and put this on the fast track of a two week vote when the final budget is due in three months) was offered reduced salaries, benefits and retirements, from EVERY public union EXCEPT the two that backed his campaign (because those were the only two not included in the bill) and he turned them down cold – no discussion – because they wanted to retain their right to bargain.

      …and you want to say this is a budget maneuver? Come on now, seriously? He’s filling the state’s coffer’s with bargains?!

      BTW – Walker loves private industry. He certainly showed it in his last job. Milwaukee is currently paying double for courthouse guards. He opted to privatize them (under a false claim of a budget crisis) when he was in charge there. (Yeah, privatized guards for a city courthouse.) http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/117276913.html

    3. Hey Winnie12,

      If this is NOT an attack on public workers and only about the bad economic times we are currently in…why doesn’t Walker accept the concessions by the unions HE ASKED FOR? After all, if this was just about balancing budgets and not attacking unions…this whole mess would be over with because unions have accepted the concessions! Do people still really believe this is about bad economic times? Come on people..THINK!

  12. who, in this day and age, REALLY ACTUALLY believes that teachers are at all compensated ENOUGH, let alone TOO MUCH?!?!

    starting salary for a teacher – which requires, at MINIMUM, a bachelors degress [at at LEAST $40k, but probably at least twice that] – is UNDER $30,000. “compensation” – oh, lord. they tend to have CRAPPY medical, that doesn’t cover dental or vision [it varies by state, i grant] and their pensions have been pre-gutted.

    that “9 months of work” IGNORES the fact that, DURING those 9 months, teachers tend to work 60-80 hour weeks – but are only PAID for 9 months of 40 hour work weeks [teachers are NOT paid for summer vacation – what they CAN do is have their checks split up so that some of their pay is paid DURING those months – but unless they’re teaching summer school, they’re NOT being paid for the summer]

    we want – we NEED – the best and brightest IN THE CLASSROOM, teaching the future. as shannigans so eloqently stated – we’re getting what we paid for, and go pay attention to first year college students to see how LITTLE we’re getting, because we have crappy teachers because anyone who’d be a GOOD teacher is smart enough to KNOW that they can get a better job with better pay and better compensation and LESS BS almost ANYWHERE ELSE.

    but, sure, lets continue to villify teachers, teachers are easy targets, because they can lose their jobs for defending themselves.

  13. You know what frustrates me?
    When participants on EITHER side of the aisle use biased, politicized data in their arguments.
    I’d love to be able to show my father some non-partisian data with regard to this, and I was excited when I read Cory’s comments about the report being “heavily linked and cited”.
    Point 1. No data (Outside of Shepard Smith’s comment)
    Point 2. Tough to prove a negative. A high school debater would leave that one out.
    Point 3. A Quote from Joel DeSpain. Unless we have hard data, it’s “he says, she says”.
    Point 4. Good one (Finally). although the Governor’s words should be cited as coming from a prank phone call.
    Point 5. Another good one, although the where and when of Governor’s statement should be cited.
    Point 6. “The Center for Budget and Policy Priorites”: Lots of Union funding – I’d like to see correlating data from another source.
    Point 7. Economic Policy Institute: Union mouthpiece – Look at the board of directors. Hard to believe their point of view isn’t biased.

    And so on.

    Most of the stuff I read online wouldn’t pass muster on a high school research paper. We should be doing better at proving our point.

    Thank God for John Stewart.

    1. Agreed that some of the blog post’s points seem potentially weak (what would you expect from an amateur effort – at least he’s trying) but then you conclude with “Thank God for Jon Stewart”?

      You do realize that there’s no way that video clips assembled out of context on a satirical TV show could possibly meet your standards of objectivity and logic, right? They have no burden to be completely accurate and fair, in fact their mission is to exaggerate the flaws of politicians and pundits for comedic effect.

      I mean, I enjoy it too, but I would never claim it’s solid journalism.

  14. “Public servants are just that – they serve the public.”

    I wasn’t aware that they were slaves. I’m pretty sure public employees are also taxpayers and, therefore, have the same voice as private sector employees.

    “All of this is beside the point. Wisconsin has a huge budget problem”

    Read the article and the budget. Walker created the a good portion of the budget problem. And the “Budget Repair Bill” that started all of this was to fill a gap that Walker created with a needless tax cut in January. It didn’t have to happen.

    I live in Wisconsin (which has never been run by unions). I’m a non-union private sector employee who also considered teaching as a career. I’ve received compensation far and above what state workers receive. And nothing that Walker has been telling us holds water, the logic just isn’t there.

    “Again… teachers working for 9 months for 6 figure packages are hardly Appalachian coal miners. ”

    Almost no public teacher in Wisconsin gets a 6 figure compensation package. I believe only the Nicolet school district averages about an even $100K (and that’s an extremely wealthy district). I wonder if people who make the “summers off” claim actually know any teachers. I’ve known many and have seen them suffer emotional breakdowns at the stress involved in dealing with 30 kids for 40 hours a week. No one goes into teaching because it’s easy. Especially in WI where it’s actually quite a bit of work to meet and continue teaching requirements.

    That is unless Walker’s bill allowing charter schools to hire teachers who only have a bachelor’s and not a teaching certificate goes through. That’s part of his budget, btw. Not something that will do anything to solve budget woes; just another anti-intellectual, anti-union measure.

  15. Governor Walker is trying to prevent the next budget crisis as well as solve the current one. By abusing their collective bargaining privilege, the union has shown that they don’t have Wisconsin’s best interests at heart and now Governor Walker is left with no choice but to take it away. When you have cancer, do you treat the symptoms and hope the tumor goes away? Or do you aggressively fight it, using every method available? The public servants’ union is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin. This bill is the chemo to cure it.

    1. By abusing their collective bargaining privilege, the union has shown that they don’t have Wisconsin’s best interests at heart and now Governor Walker is left with no choice but to take it away.

      How have they abused collective bargaining?

      1. Their insanely high compensation package is proof that they’ve abused their bargaining powers. And now in the middle of a budget crisis, they want more. They care nothing about the welfare of their state. They just want more, more, more.

        Scott Walker 2012.

        1. How are their compensation packages “insanely high”? I’d like to see some examples that contradict all of the examples that indicate that they aren’t.

        2. More = less?

          Last year, they abused their collective bargaining by agreeing to 8 furlough days an effective cut in pay.

          This year, they’ve agreed to alterations of a decades old pension/healthcare package that free up funds for other government spending and effectively cuts their compensation. And this without having a partner even willing to meet at the bargaining table.


        3. Scott Walker created the crisis. That’s the problem. Read the article.

          Or are you just trolling? I am beginning to suspect so.

          1. Since he/she created the account just for this thread, and is just pushing the buttons of the commentariat, yeah, troll or astroturfer.

    2. The public servants’ union is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin.

      You didn’t RTFA, did you? Then again, I’m sure pesky things like facts and truth can’t get in the way of your predetermined belief system, so what’s the use, eh?

    3. “When you have cancer, do you treat the symptoms and hope the tumor goes away? Or do you aggressively fight it, using every method available? The public servants’ union is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin. This bill is the chemo to cure it.”

      The ruling class is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin. You can get loads of money by soaking the rich – bring back the estate tax and the budget hole is plugged. Why do people seem to think it’s ok that a few get billions while others are scraping by? Does anyone really work 300 times harder than a teacher? It’s probably not even technically possible to be 300 times more productive. Why should they get paid 300 times more?

      “And now in the middle of a budget crisis, they want more. They care nothing about the welfare of their state. They just want more, more, more.”

      You *must* be talking about the ruling class. Have you not noticed that the ruling class has been getting ever richer while the rest of us stand still?


  16. As a totally nonpartisan individual who doesn’t really care that much about either side of this issue, I think this might be a big problem for Republicans in general. This issue arouses the same passions in pro-union, pro-big government people that the Tea Party brings out of more libertarian types. If the DNC plays it right, they will encourage a “workers’ rights” PAC that will function much like a left-wing Tea Party.

    On the one hand, I like that the national dialogue is about budgets, priorities and policy, rather than divisive social issues, because I think that making sure our tax money is collected properly and not wasted is much more important than legislating morality.
    On the other hand, I’m a little nervous because this level of passion is really intense because of the long term fiscal problems we’ll have. I’m mostly afraid that we will keep electing leaders that don’t compromise well, so they will keep escalating tensions between different groups.

  17. It was really interesting meeting people during the DNC in Denver.

    I met mineral company lobbyists in LoDo and they were basically whores looking to get drunk, fuck and they drunkenly told me they didn’t support democrats but were there to throw money at anyone and everyone who would do their master’s bidding. I was single at the time and I could have banged the whores, but I’m not really all that attracted to filthy, easy, sleazy corporatist whores.

    On the other hand, over by the convention center, I met a couple of ladies from a union. They were drinking quite a bit just like the mineral company lobbyist whores, but instead of becoming more sleazy, they became more somber and spoke of things like ethics, values and trying to basically save the world and we had a great, intelligent, respectful and uplifting conversation.

    I’m sure by that time, the corporatist whores were somewhere in LoDo going full bukake.

    1. Thanks for your DNC story. I’ve shot craps in Vegas next to union officials wearing diamond pinkie rings and only betting black chips. That mean anything? No. But I did shadow their bets a little.

      1. I’ve shot craps in Vegas next to union officials wearing diamond pinkie rings and only betting black chips

        Yes, but did they go full bukake after the craps?

  18. I’d suspect some coal miners do make over 100k a year – if they are a geologist or work specialized equipment. Most manual labor has been replaced by machinery, the days of picks, shovels, and pit ponies are long gone.

  19. Less than private sector employees with roughly equivalent education and experience. Benefits and salaries included.

    A really appropriate comparison then would be public school teachers vs, teachers at accredited private schools. Don’t know if that information is available though…

    1. In most states private and public charter schools are not subject to the same qualifications requirements for teachers that public schools must meet.

      For example, in Massachusetts it is a state law that you must hold or be working on a Masters degree in order to teach in public schools. You must also pass two Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTELs), one in the subject area you will teach, and one in Communication and Literacy. Obviously, all of these things cost money.

      Private and public charter school teachers are not legally required to do this and so it is harder to compare.

      1. Anon @ 73: “In most states private and public charter schools are not subject to the same qualifications requirements for teachers that public schools must meet.”

        Which might be valid tests of the ability to teach. Or on the other hand, they might be mere credentialism.

  20. I have not read all the comments on all the Wisconsin posts, so I hope somebody has mentioned this already. Government employees are not the best and the brightest. Why should they be paid more than their counterparts in private sector? If they were really that good they would be hired out in the real world. If they really love serving the public, they are getting intangible benefits by doing what they think is a good cause. I say this as a government employee myself who has chosen to stay in my job because of the non-cash benefits of job security and (somewhat) predictable working hours.

    1. So you’re saying that we shouldn’t have teachers in public schools and that they should only work in private schools? Cause that’s what I’m getting from your statement.

    2. And once again the parable of the crab bucket makes an appearance. Just because private-sector workers have let their pay and benefits be stolen from them without a fight, why should public-sector employees do the same?

    3. Having spent my whole adult working life in the private sector, I can say with great confidence that corporate employees–particularly those in managerial positions–aren’t the best and the brightest, either. More selfish, greedy and short-sighted perhaps.

      People should accept less if they feel good about what they’re doing? That’s exactly the kind of reasoning that corporate management loves. Now, if you could say, “This company is like a family” just before you lay somebody off, you could have a great future as a corporate manager.

  21. In addition to being a consummate liar, Walker is a lapdog for Koch Industries. I know you will enjoy “Why Dummies Want To Take Wisconsin”:

    No Prophet

  22. No one can deny that the unions pushed for, and the government gave in on an unsustainable compensation package for government workers who by no objective measure have worked for such a lavish lifestyle. Governor Walker has asked them to carry their weight for once and what do they do? They leave their jobs to squat in the Capitol building. They’re lucky Governor Walker hasn’t fired the lot of them.

    Scott Walker for President 2012

      1. When they got their current contract that bankrupted the state. Admittedly, the government should have known better at the time but that’s why the people voted them out and brought in a man who they knew would take care of business

        Walker/Paul 2012

        1. A major citation is needed here. Do you have any? Ahh, the grass is looking so green and plastic.

        2. Hilarious–are you paid for that astroturf or one of those suckers who post nonsense for free?

    1. “No one can deny X” is semantically equivalent to a phrase beloved of Donald Rumsfeld, “Everybody knows X”. In both cases, it translates to “I haven’t a shred of evidence for what I’m about to claim.”

    2. Sure is astroturfy in here. New account, only created to spew anti-union talking points.

      I’m ready to make my guess…

      You are Scott Walker. Can I claim my 5 pounds?

    3. Seconding JonStewartMill’s observation on the logically fallacy, and adding:

      How is it unsustainable? The government can sustain it with taxes, that’s how government works. The budget as a whole is “underfunded” and that’s where the government has to choose to either fund it or adjust the budget to suit the current income (Econ 101). Walker has already cut taxes and intends to continue with more tax cuts for businesses. So he is negatively affecting the states income and now must make adjustments for that. Regardless of which side you’re on “unsustainable” is not an accurate description of the current situation.

      And if there’s such an issue with finding money why is Walker including needless road construction projects and other additional expenditures in his budget?

  23. Much of this argument focuses on complaining about how much teachers(or anyone else) earn. This time would be better spent focusing on why the complainants earn less.

  24. Floyd R Turbo-

    You are absolutely correct, “Again… teachers working for 9 months for 6 figure packages are hardly Appalachian coal miners.”

    Especially since the average coal miner’s pay is just under 60k, not figuring benefits with a management position potential of up to 108k as an operations manager or mining superintendent whereas teachers, K-12 (both typical classroom and special education specialized) all get paid about 40k.

    I’m a teacher now but really I think I should shift into coal mining.

    1. National medians are really easy to research, try it before you spout nonsense.
    2. Teachers work more than 9 months a year, administration responsibilities dictate that teachers don’t get out before mid June and go back in mid August in most states now, so where are the 3 months vacation?
    3. If teacher’s got 6 figures we would have a surplus not a shortage in the field.

  25. I just don’t understand why getting tenure as a K-12 teacher is easier than getting it from a university.

    If teachers are poorly paid, isn’t that because their unions have negotiated contracts that made sense 30 years ago, but make little sense today? Being paid on an hourly basis? What kind of craziness is that? That’s a recipe for resentment about not being paid for 1/4 of your day. Having to buy your own supplies?

    Pensions are frankly antiquated. Matching 401K contributions sure, but a pension based on salary is fundamentally unfair to every male teacher (they die sooner).

    Not being able to reward good teachers is silly. Not being able to fire bad teachers even with support of every other teacher in the school? Ridiculous.

    I don’t know. I think my fundamental problem with public sector unions stems from the idea that unions are supposed to protect employees from exploitative companies. Governments aren’t supposed to be exploitative.

    1. Are you actually making the argument that teachers are poorly paid, thanks to the unions negotiating poorly on their behalf, and therefore public sector unions are bad, because the government wouldn’t exploit them?

      Wow. That’s… well, that’s creative, I’ll give you that.

    2. “a pension based on salary is fundamentally unfair to every male teacher (they die sooner).”

      That might be the dumbest argument that I have seen someone make in the last week. Maybe in the last month.

  26. What I do not understand is that even if there is a budget crisis, why is it that it is the teachers incentives which must be sacrificed? Whether or not they are paid a little more than private counterparts has no bearing on the fact that they are not paid extravagantly, and cutting away from this seems to threaten the incentive to educate more than the current economy already has.

    I ask, not only in this case but in regards to all spending towards education: when there is a budget deficit, shouldn’t education be the very last service the people would wish to sacrifice? If its expense must be accounted for, shouldn’t the first option be to raise taxes and then, and only then, cut expenses?

    Education is not a luxury in today’s society, it is a necessity, but it seems to be becoming a luxury children either have or do not.

  27. When they got their current contract that bankrupted the state.

    Wisconsin is far from bankrupt.

    But you haven’t answered the question anyway.

    Listen, this has been really, really, really good in confirming that Walker supporters have no idea what they’re talking about. So thanks. You have done your party a great service in the mind of this independent WI voter.


  28. The reason assholes like Walker are allowed to remain in power is because US culture has developed a very crippled view of reality. We have the actual, wysiwyg reality in which we can see a criminal killing, raping, robbing or whatever – then we have the litigious reality as defined by the lawyers and politicians, whereby every crooked action is framed in some contrived context which they say makes it okay.

    The litigious reality is driving this country into the ground, because it exists solely to protect scum like Walker and keep him in power. Sooner or later, people will have to begin using their common sense and dealing with people like Walker like the unethical crooks they are.

  29. Since I’m a man of few words, Im just going to copy and paste a comment I made on an older story.

    There is more to this story than just the elimination of collective bargaining
    See page 24 of the bill at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/JR1SB-11.pdf
    Sale of public property with NO BIDDING and NO OVERSIGHT!!!

    “16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling,
    and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the
    department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may
    contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without
    solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best
    interest of the state.
    Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or
    certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to
    purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is
    considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification
    of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

    If, for example in a purely hypothetical situation, Walker sells the powerplants to say Walker Power INC. for $1 there would be nothing anyone could do about it.

    I wonder how much the cost of heat cooling and power is going to increase for the University of Wisconsin once the sale goes through.

    Don’t believe me. Read the bill for yourselves, and ask Why is the media not covering this aspect?

    1. Part of the budget problem comes from this bill, http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/AB-6.pdf, which repeals a state tax on capital gains,
      which will REDUCE the available budget by an estimated
      $40.1 Million in 2012,
      $139.5 million in 2013,
      $223.8 Million in 2014.
      Estimates come from http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/fe/AB-6fe.pdf

      “AN ACT to repeal 71.05 (6) (b) 9m.; to amend 71.05 (6) (b) 9.; and to create 71.05
      (6) (b) 9e. and 71.05 (6) (b) 9h. of the statutes; relating to: restoring the
      treatment of the exclusion of capital gains for individuals and certain other
      persons that existed before the enactment of 2009 Wisconsin Act 28, and
      phasing out the taxation of capital gains.”

      In another bill, the teabaggers gut and replace the Reagents of the University of Wisconsin with governor appointed stooges. see http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/AB-39.pdf

  30. Protip: Thooshe is a troll or a shill. His only posts are on this article and all he’s done is make unsupported statements and say Walker 2012 after every post. He’s just trying to push the discourse into the gutter.

  31. I assume that all the players for the Green Bay Packers will also lose their collective bargaining rights since the team is owned by the citizens of the State and State money was and is used to build the stadium and infrastructure for the venue, thereby making the players State employees.

      1. “Teachers, Janitors, Firefighters and librarians collectively bargaining scare you?


        You know that stuff called “money” that we the taxpayers continue to cough up in ever-increasing obscene amounts? All the people in all the professions you mention (above) keep asking for more of it (money, that is) – this depression we’re in should rally public workers to take volunteer cuts, NOT make more demands for pay raises. Public unions are literally strangling us the taxpayers and playing at blackmail. This is what I believe. What do you think?

        1. During the depression/recession, taxpayers have been paying less taxes. The Wisconsin unions have volunteered to take cuts. While I know some people have unreasonable phobias, such as fear of clowns, you need to keep telling yourself that your teachers/janitors/ firefighters/librarians phobia is just in your own head. They’re really not out to get you. If you’re still afraid of them, please get some help. I wish you healing.

        2. “Public unions are literally strangling us the taxpayers . . .”

          I don’t think that word means what you think it does.

        3. So, you still have yet to read in any of the articles that have been posted that the unions have agreed to the cuts. I’m fairly certain this has been pointed out to you before, yet, it seems to not have sunk in.



          We’re talking about 8.5% of the budget here.

          What is going on is a lack of revenue. Tax cuts to corporations and the top 2%. And more tax cuts, and more tax cuts. Heck, are you aware Walker has stated that he will forgive back taxes on 60% of all businesses in Wisconsin?

          The working poor through the middle class are now being asked to bear the entire burden of all expenses. In both the private and public sector their wages are not so hot, and they’ve been screwed by Wall Street ten times over, impacting everything from home equity to what little investment they might have.

          You’re afraid of public unions? You think that’s the problem?

          It’s a revenue problem. The top 2% and corporations are no longer contributing to the system.

        4. What do I think? I’ll tell ya what I know.

          Just in case you weren’t sure that I was telling the truth about that whole “they said they’d take less money, but the governor wouldn’t take it unless he took their right to collective bargaining as well” thing… I give you:

          February 19, 2010. The day that (in less than a week!) the unions agreed to take less money.


          Yep. All Walker wants is their right to bargain. Nothing else will satisfy. He won’t even talk. So with over 100,000 people present in the capitol in active protest of a rushed bill, it’s now two weeks later, and he’s threatening to arrest democratic senators who’ve had to leave the state because their presence – not their vote, their PHYSICAL PRESENCE – would have passed the bill that he won’t go to the table and talk about before it goes to vote with open public protest opposing it.

          That’s what I know.

  32. wndr wht ths bt f nf mns?

    29.4% f Mlwk pblc schl tchrs
    snd thr wn chldrn t prvt schls

    Wshngtn Tms
    Sptmbr 22, 2004

    Ntnwd, pblc schl tchrs r lmst twc s lkly s thr prnts t chs prvt schls fr thr wn chldrn, th stdy by th Thms B. Frdhm nsttt fnd. Mr thn 1 n 5 pblc schl tchrs sd thr chldrn ttnd prvt schls.

    n Wshngtn (28 prcnt), Bltmr (35 prcnt) nd 16 thr mjr cts, th fgr s mr thn 1 n 4. n sm cts, nrly hlf f th chldrn f pblc schl tchrs hv bndnd pblc schls.

    n Phldlph, 44 prcnt f th tchrs pt thr chldrn n prvt schls; n Cncnnt, 41 prcnt; Chcg, 39 prcnt; Rchstr, N.Y., 38 prcnt. Th sm trnds shwd p n th Sn Frncsc-klnd r, whr 34 prcnt f pblc schl tchrs chs prvt schls fr thr chldrn; 33 prcnt n Nw Yrk Cty nd Nw Jrsy sbrbs; nd 29 prcnt n Mlwk nd Nw rlns.

    Mchl Pns, spksmn fr th Ntnl dctn ssctn, th 2.7-mlln-mmbr pblc schl nn, dclnd rqst fr cmmnt n th stdy’s fndngs. Th mrcn Fdrtn f Tchrs ls dclnd t cmmnt.

    “crss th stts, 12.2 prcnt f ll fmls — rbn, rrl nd sbrbn — snd thr chldrn t prvt schls,” sys th rprt, bsd n 2000 cnss dt.

    Pblc schl tchrs n Phldlph, Cncnnt, Chcg, Rchstr, N.Y., nd Bltmr rgstrd th mst dsstsfctn wth th schls n whch thy tch.

    … n cts lk Mlwk… whr 29.4 prcnt f pblc schl tchrs snt thr chldrn t prvt schls…

    (xcrpt) Rd mr t wshngtntms.cm …

    1. In my opinion that means a great many of the people inside public education feel it is failing society.

      I fear that this information can be easily misconstrued, as why they feel that way is completely ambiguous. The reference to the denial of comment from the teachers union suggests that the teachers feel other teachers are incompetent and cant be fired and what not. However it could just as easily be that the teachers feel that public education is inadequate due to a severe lack of resources.

      Likely it is a bit of both.

    2. Ah, using my own google skills, I see what you did there.

      You copied and paste directly from Free Republic. Did you actually click through?

      Do you know what the Fordham Institute is? It’s a right wing “think tank” that recently was in the middle of the Texas School Book issue. Yeah, their data is **real** credible.

      Can you find a nicely sampled, neutral poll supporting these numbers? I’ll wait with baited breath.

    3. That’s about the same percentage of ALL Milwaukee students who attend public schools. Milwaukee likely has the most extensive school voucher program in the country.

    4. Elmo Gearloose,

      There are appropriate ways to use citations in comments. That wasn’t one of them.

    5. Hello Elmo, as the child of a long time employee of a school district, niece of a preschool teacher, and friend of a high school teacher, I can give you a bit of insight into your oh-so-spooky numbers. Ready?

      Teachers frequently live as close as they can to the school they work at (low salaries don’t encourage a long commute). If a teacher has a school-age child living at their home, that child will often attend the public school they teach at, so the parent may opt to send him/her to private school simply to avoid bullying (which is a major problem for children of the”enemy”).

      That, along with the ability to show to future colleges that no special treatment was given to a teacher’s child on-site is often an factor in sending a their child to private school.

      I’m not saying that private schools don’t offer other benefits – such as smaller class size, the arts, financial backing – I’m just saying you’re over simplifying to force a point.

  33. Thooshe – “When they got their current contract that bankrupted the state.”

    Not likely.

    Total salaries and compensation in the last budget were 8.5% of the entire state budget.

  34. Teacher bashing is just scapegoating. Show me one bad teacher and I’ll show you ten crappy parents and 100 voters that think public schools are a waste of money.

  35. The linked article uses very questionable stats from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, which both receive a big chunk of their funding from organized labor. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it would behoove people who really wish to understand these issues to seek out other sources of information as well. (To avoid being labeled a shill for some group or another, I’m going to avoid recommending anyone specific; everyone here knows how to search the Internet.) The basic point that needs to be made, however, is that public-employee unions are the beneficiaries of a fantastically corrupt political arrangement in which tax dollars paid to the employees – and yes, this is money from the public, not from The Man – is siphoned off as dues and directed back into electing politicians who will do what the unions want. The amounts kicked back into the political process from unions like AFSCME and the NEA are frankly mind-boggling (hundreds of millions of dollars each cycle), and go some way toward explaining why states have supinely acquiesced to wage and benefit demands that are bankrupting them. (And as an employer I can tell you I wouldn’t be able to compete, let alone open my doors, if I offered anything like the wage-and-benefit packages that public employees get. Pensions? How many private-sector employees – or their employers, for that matter – are checking out of the workforce at age 60 or even 65 with full retirement? In California alone, the taxpayers are currently saddled with more than $500 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities. Yes, that’s billion with a b.) What we are seeing in the protests in Wisconsin, and what we are sure to see elsewhere, is the political class – the public-employee unions, along with the politicians who rely on their contributions – fighting back against the taxpayers who pay all of their salaries and want an end to the gravy train. Yes, it’s The Man against the poor schmucks who try to make a living and pay their taxes. That’s just nauseating.

    1. (To avoid being labeled a shill for some group or another, I’m going to avoid recommending anyone specific; everyone here knows how to search the Internet.)

      If you have some information to contradict what was posted, let’s see it. Otherwise, I’m going to trust the EPI, et al.

  36. Ignore the righty trolls in this thread. This is not about balancing WI’s budget. It’s part of a national plan to crush AFSCME and other public employee unions. The purpose is to eliminate their support of Democrats in the next election.

    According to the SCOTUS, money is speech, and corporations are persons. Without unions, the only major source of money supporting Democrats, there will be no one to oppose the billionaires’ “free speech” as they blanket the media in the runup to the next election.

    Republicans are great at deferred gratification. The dissidents in their party are holding their tongues. Right now they’re all pulling for that one goal – eliminate the democrats. The dissidents who want a total fascist state (as opposed to a partial one) will get their chance to argue their case once the right has made the US a one-party nation.

  37. @Anon Hmm. I don’t think public school teacher salaries should match the highest private school teacher salaries. There will always be some parents willing to pay a premium to have their children well educated. They will hire the best teachers they can afford, and I have this crazy idea that it’s entirely reasonable that the best teachers receive more money for their work than teachers who are not the best. Private schools exist because some people decided to invest their own money to get something better. Of course those schools have to pay higher salaries to get teachers that are better than average. I know some people will have trouble with the unfairness of this, but not everything can be excellent all the time, and there is nothing wrong with mediocrity. If my kids’ high school hired a music teacher or soccer coach (ha ha), I would expect they hire somebody who is pretty low quality. I would not expect them to compete with the “private sector” and hire the best.

    @JonStewartMills. There is a secret that you are missing. Nobody is forced to show up at work every day. If a worker performs a day of work for an employer, and accepts money in return for it, and this goes on day after day, no pay and benefits are being “stolen.” If there is a better deal out there, it’s a free country and we are not slaves. Problem is, there are a few billion other people in the world that think that an American paycheck for a desk job and 40 hour work week is a pretty sweet deal. They didnt grow up hearing that life is supposed to be easy and somebody owes them something just for showing up. American jobs go overseas because there are other human beings out there who work harder and deserve the jobs more than we do. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the consequence of our choices.

    @grimc. People should accept the best deal they can get, no less. There is a wide variety of professions to choose from, and I chose to do something that pays less money than many, but gives me the benefit of enjoying what I do. Meanwhile, I’m in America which puts me somewhere around the worlds 99th percentile of wealth and ease of living and just plain good luck. Am I supposed to feel like a victim now because corporate management might love my reasoning?

    1. “American jobs go overseas because there are other human beings out there who work harder and deserve the jobs more than we do. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the consequence of our choices.”

      I am beyond tired of this ridiculous argument. Of course foreign workers would love an American paycheck. The problem is that our government has allowed American businesses to ship these jobs overseas in the name of ‘free trade’. Which is code speak for a corporatist race to the bottom dollar.

      Who has reaped the benefit of this arrangement?

      Not the workers in near slave conditions overseas, or in Mexico. Not Americans put out of work. Not consumers via lowered prices in spite of the fact that out of country production is vastly cheaper. I’m pretty sure that leaves one group of people. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who.

    2. Who said anything about feeling like a victim? I was merely suggesting that you’re selling yourself short. You may feel that as a government worker you’re “not the best and brightest”–your words, not mine–but there’s always a place in the corporate world for employees that enjoy their work so much that they’ll work for below-market pay and don’t think they should ever be able to ask for a raise.

    3. American jobs go overseas because there are other human beings out there who work harder and deserve the jobs more than we do.

      No, American jobs go overseas because American companies can pay people in other countries less, regardless of their work effort or quality.

      I say this as someone who was laid off a week ago. My manager said I was a great worker who produced excellent output (software developer), but he had to let me go because a manager three levels up had determined they could pay two guys in Argentina less than what they paid me. My manager argued that the two guys in Argentina would never produce the quality or quantity that I did, but they didn’t care about that. All that mattered was that they would be able to reduce their budget, and that in turn would be reflected on their own compensation.

    4. I’m not sure where you are getting your information about the pay scale at private schools but private school teachers and those at public charter schools often get even less than traditional public school teachers.

      Both my parents are teachers, Mom in public schools for over 30 years and Dad at one of the most prestigious private schools in the country for 25 year, Head of the History Department in fact. And yes, we received campus housing as part of his contract in lieu of pay but that also meant that he was on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the housing was questionable. In one apartment (in a converted house which housed about 10 people) we had the septic system was defective for over a decade, every spring we would have to endure a backed up cellar or the yard would be unusable but as long as it looked good on Parent’s Day everything was great.

      The point of all this is, that it is hard out there for all teachers. Private schools have captive employees with low wages and public schools have employees who often have big debt from paying out for the additional degrees and certifications they need. Public charter school can hire anyone they want and still take public funds to pay for it, there is no certification oversight.

      It’s just a fact, teachers don’t have cushy salaries anywhere. It takes more education to get into the field and much longer to reach the top pay ladder rung which is about equal to the starting pay for and MBA, and then they get dumped on at every turn.

    5. #111 & jonw

      “American jobs go overseas because there are other human beings out there who work harder and deserve the jobs more than we do. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the consequence of our choices.” (Anon #111 also responded to this statement. I usually won’t jump in on an ongoing discussion between two people, but I have a point I’d like to make to jonw.)

      While we have grown spoiled in our country, it’s unreasonable to say that jobs are moved out of country because we won’t do them, or that people elsewhere simply “work harder.” Not true. It’s not the “job” that’s the problem, it’s the way the companies can do them if they take them elsewhere.

      The fact is, there are other places where things can be made with fewer restrictions, cheaper raw materials, longer days for the workers, and, well, in a way that to us would seem unthinkable. (Would you sleep on a pallet on the floor next to the sewing machine you used all day long? You might in India, and it would be a good job.) We’ve been raised from preschool on to expect Saturday and Sunday off. We expect machine shops to be safe. We expect to be able to get medical care if there’s an accident.

      We don’t have to say, “There ought to be a law,” because there is one.

      If, as an American, you are happy that you have a weekend, paid overtime, worker’s comp and all those other little benefits you expect as standard, guess who you have to thank?

      Thank a union.

      Even more than that, thank them because they bargained, fought, went on strike and some people even died so you could have that cushy desk job, including weekend and two-weeks’ paid off. If you’ve never read up on the history of unions and their role in the safety of the modern American workplace, you might want to do a little research.

      Every organization must be watched to be sure that it does not overstep its bounds, so please don’t think I’m saying “Unions are wonderful, let them run wild!” No one group should. The problem with the current situation in Wisconsin is that the governor is trying to remove the unions’ rights to keep government & corporations in check, too.

  38. this depression we’re in should rally public workers to take volunteer cuts, NOT make more demands for pay raises

    That’s such a wild misrepresentation of what’s going on in WI that not even Walker has dared to float that turd.

  39. I’ve actually been involved in firing AFSCME workers. You want to know what the onerous burdens are that management has to do? You have to follow the steps outlined in your own procedure manual and the employee gets to have their shop steward come to meetings with management. Practically Stalinist, eh?

    If an employee is being fired for incompetence, the shop steward usually looks pretty embarrassed to be involved. And if you think that other workers stick up for crappy employees, you’ve never had a job where workers had to depend on each other to get the work done. Most employees are pretty grateful to management for sweeping out the deadwood so everyone else doesn’t have to carry them anymore.

    Do you really think that Mrs. Jones in grade 5 is going to defend Mr. Smith in grade 4 if his students keep graduating without learning what they need in order to function in the next grade?

    1. I’ve actually been involved in firing AFSCME workers. You want to know what the onerous burdens are that management has to do? You have to follow the steps outlined in your own procedure manual and the employee gets to have their shop steward come to meetings with management. Practically Stalinist, eh?

      Firing a union employee for incompetence takes more or less infinite malevolence and patience on the person trying to drum them out. You have to want to destroy another human in order to do it. I don’t know about the rules you were involved with, but the ones I have seen require endless meetings, improvement plans, and a more or less continuous commitment to making someone else’s life hell and repeatedly reiterating that they are the first born of Satan and will shove a drill through their eye rather than not stomp on a puppy before you can actually fire them, and that all assumes that the union more or less agrees with you and doesn’t throw up every single bureaucratic hurdle in their arsenal your way. Most organizations would rather suffer incompetence and give the idiot a meaningless job than go through the firing process.

      During layoffs, when most companies normally kill off dead wood, unions insist on a first to hire first to fire approach. For teachers, this means sacking your young and most enthusiastic teacher for the oldest ones who just want to make retirement. Unions resist any attempts to implement any sort of real merit based pay and advancement. Getting them to agree on simply allowing bonuses based on merit more or less takes a universally pissed voting base before it is considered. Getting unions to agree that someone with the most enthusiastic energy and skill should actually receive steady base salary boosts that might actually put them over more senior members is a futile waste.

      Unions have a place. Low and unskilled labor can benefit from collective bargaining. Dangerous jobs can certainly reap benefits for having worker advocates. For skilled service based industries, unions are a drag. When skills matter, especially in things that are more intangible and don’t lend themselves to certification based ratings, you need the ability to hire, fire, and pay people based upon their actual talent. Teachers unions are absolutely and completely dead set against a true merit based system.

      Hell, I actually don’t even care that much about unions in the rest of the public sector. If the DMV can’t fire an idiot it is just a minor annoyance once a decade when I have to walk in there. Teachers are different. They matter. I would be a whole lot more enthusiastic about throwing more money at education if idiots and incompetence could be quickly and easily fired, and enthusiastic and skillful folks were allowed to excel past the more mediocre, seniority be damned.

      1. While I agree that some reforms need to be made in teaching unions on the basis of merit based pay and firing the actual incompetent ones, teaching is a career that burns you out. The older, less enthusiastic teachers used to be the young eager ones, until they were worn down by parents and bureaucracy and having to buy their own school supplies and teach to the test and bullshit like that. If you want to advocate a policy of using them up and then spitting them out, you should be paying them a lot more from the very start.

        1. While I agree that some reforms need to be made in teaching unions on the basis of merit based pay and firing the actual incompetent ones, teaching is a career that burns you out. The older, less enthusiastic teachers used to be the young eager ones, until they were worn down by parents and bureaucracy and having to buy their own school supplies and teach to the test and bullshit like that. If you want to advocate a policy of using them up and then spitting them out, you should be paying them a lot more from the very start.

          I agree teaching can lead to burn out, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. Teaching is not a welfare program. I feel for teachers, but frankly, education is too important to put anyone but students first. Make the DMV the work-welfare program where you get a life long job you can’t be fired from. If grinding up teachers and spitting them out is the most effective way to teach children, so be it. In fact, I think that is probably pretty close to the truth.

          My educational experience was that the two best types of teachers I had were either young and enthusiastic idealist, or retired folks finishing off a professional career with teaching for fun. It might very well be that the best teachers are not life long teachers. I can live with that system. Better, I just want a system where the best are kept, promoted, and give pay raises to their base salaries (NOT merit based bonus pay) and the worst are regularly sacked. If you can keep it up over a life time, awesome. I want those people rewarded as they are probably some of the most skillful. If you burn out, I want you sacked. Give them assistance to find a new job, give them money to get reeducated, I don’t care, just clear those people out the second they can’t take it any more and get someone new in.

          My biggest problem with teacher unions is that they are dead set against this mentality. To a union, jobs are supposed to be a life long, pay is seniority based, layoffs are seniority based, merit pay is resisted and only grudgingly accept when it is bonus pay instead of a change to the base salary, and the idea of a quick turn of employees is considered abhorrent.

          Frankly, I find the whole dichotomy of union worker vs management in the teaching system to be completely backwards and wrong. Teachers are not unskilled workers that are replaceable parts that need to be protected from management. Teachers have far more in common with Intel engineers than they do tomato pickers. There is a reason why Intel doesn’t have unionized engineers. It doesn’t make any freaking sense for a service worker to be unionized. A skilled service based worker starts low, displays technical ability and interpersonal skills, and then gets tossed up the food chain to a place that tends to suit them. People who show an aptitude for management move down a management path. Highly technical workers who are less able or less interested leaders get shunted down a path of high technical responsibility. Idiots get drummed out and passable but non-exceptional folks eventually level off. There is no hard split between “worker” and “management”, just a fuzzy gray line that over manager had to cross.

          1. If grinding up teachers and spitting them out is the most effective way to teach children, so be it. In fact, I think that is probably pretty close to the truth.

            Paying CEOs large amounts of money and providing them good retirement benefits is necessary to get highly qualified people to fill the position, but the best way to get work out of teachers is to abuse them as much as possible. I take it this becomes obvious once you remember that one set are rich, and the other poor, and so each deserve treatment that keeps them that way?

      2. I appreciate your honesty. Unlike Gov Walker, you’re debating the question actually at issue: Should public worker unions be allowed to exist?

        I don’t agree with your conclusion. I think worker participation in decision making often improves the result. And public worker unions benifit both the worker and the public.

        Workers know what’s actually happening on the ground, in the classroom, in the market, on the street, etc. Management (even good management) is often disconnected. They’ve got a good view of the forest.

        What I think would work, is to strengthen worker participation and organizing. Get away from the adversarial approach that we have now. Acknowledge that we’ve got different groups with different (but valuable) perspectives. Find structures to empower both groups (not only management).

        I’d suggest reading Groundswell… http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell

        It’s mainly focused on marketing and knowledge workers, but I think the ideas work equally well with teachers.

  40. As Matt Taibbi said a while back:

    “it’s unbelievable that people can’t connect the dots. You know, these pension funds that these state workers have – these were the people who were the victims of this mortgage-backed securities scheme. These were the places where the banks were selling these toxic sub-prime mortgages that eventually blew up. The pension funds lost all their money. Now the states have to pay these pensions and they’re broke, and they’re blaming the teachers, they’re blaming the firemen, they’re blaming the policemen, when in fact they were all defrauded by these banks on Wall Street. It’s an incredible situation.”

  41. I wish Elmo Gearloose hadn’t been disemvowelled, because now when I read his post, I just keep wondering if the spokesman for the National Education Association is really called Michael Penis.

  42. AM I OVERCOMPENSATED? Not in cash, that’s for sure.

    Hiya, sally_j here. It just so happens that I’ve worked as an archivist in both the private sector and for the state of Wisconsin. Right now I work for the Wisconsin Historical Society, an agency of the great state of Wisconsin.

    Before I get to the numbers, I want to make clear that I support my union conceding on the monetary parts of Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill.” One of the reasons why our collective bargaining rights are so important is that it’s kept the peace for multiple generations. Unlike Walker, I am willing to negotiate and concede. Just sayin.

    Am I overpaid? With the 12.5% cut in pay via higher contributions to pension and health care, my salary will be in perfect parity with my private sector wages. Seems fair, right?

    Except that it’s equal to my corporate pay back in 1998, when I was hired as Image Researcher / Assistant Corporate Archivist mere weeks after I received my master’s degree.

    Ouch, right?

    And yet I chose state service. Even with the pay cut. Willingly. Gladly. Am I a chump? Some might think so. I don’t. There’s a long list of reasons why I’m willing to work for $35k/year even though I need a Master’s degree to do my job and I run a small digitization business as part of my day job. Reasons are including-but-not-limited-to:

    1. Health insurance. I am more grateful for this than I can possibly express. I love my primary health care physician. She is also the doc for both my kids. In fact, she delivered both of them. Plus, how do you put a price on not having to worry about being bankrupted by injury or illness? I don’t like having to worry. My job could suck and this would still be a big incentive. Lucky for me, my job does NOT suck.

    2. Pension. A real one. Not a 401K that evaporates during a financial crisis like, oh say this photo from our family vacation to Denver a few years ago.

    3. The collections I care for. Hoooo, boy. Maybe someday when I grow up I’ll be able to put into words what kind of value I put on #3. Until then, I’ll tell you that I’m in charge of some pretty important collections, including my first-ever Big Digitization Project. I can’t put a dollar amount on this, but it’s part of my personal calculations for sure. Plus I get to solve problems like: “How the #*$&% are we going to digitize Rod Serling’s dictabelts if we don’t have a dictabelt player?”

    OK. Enough with the list. There are plenty more reasons, including my insanely talented and lovely coworkers, the fact that work is a 20 minute bus/bike ride away (depending on the season), working on the campus of the UW-Madison (even though I work for the state which means I make less than my other campus colleagues), being allowed to wear jeans to work — since I don’t have a front line job. Blah blah blah-di-da.

    As far as my union bankrupting the state of Wisconsin, I have one point and one question:

    1. I have given back for years in the form of 8 unpaid furlough days per year for two years. That’s a 3% pay cut. (In comparison, a 3% tax increase is considered socialism.)

    2. Why is *my* union bankrupting the state — but the sheriff’s deputies, the cops and the firefighters’ unions are not? And if it’s about public safety workers needing a different deal than the rest of us, why not prison guards? That seems like a pretty basic public safety issue.

    Hey, BoingBoingers! Thanks for listening to me blather. We’d be coming out to protest in Madison regardless, but it’s super duper nice to know we have support. Which reminds me! THANKS FOR THE PIZZA! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME, MWHA!!


    My Online CV: http://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyjacobs


    Of particular interest: “Wisconsin state and local governments and school districts pay college-educated workers on average 25% less than do private employers.”

  43. It bears reiterating that this isn’t just a Wisconsin issue. Conservatives are attacking unions across the country under the guise of budgetary reform. Indiana, Ohio, Idaho, the list goes on and on, all have very, very similar legislation being pushed through as well.

    Why do you get rid of unions? So that there’s no legal way for workers to negotiate. Wisconsin will enjoy general strikes if this legislation passes. And I bet general strikes will cost more money than the non-existent savings created by union-busting will save.

  44. @ADAvies: I’d have to agree with your point and expand on it. Management and labor do not have to work at loggerheads, but that collaborative relationship has to be built one manager and one employee at a time. Michael Auxenne and Mark Horstmann deal extensively with management-union working relationships in their Manager Tools podcasts. They recommend building a close relationship with those who report directly to you, and with those to whom you report. You give them time to vent, take notes, and answer their concerns. If, as a manager, you’re seen as trying to help employees advance and improve rather than trying to get them fired, you’re less likely to have problems with the union stewards coming in and poring over your evaluations. Again, it takes time, and it requires managers thinking of themselves as fellow workers doing different kinds of labor, rather than as a privileged class.

    And here’s a thought slightly closer to topic: the public-sector union negotiated theses salaries and benefits as part of their contracts. When AIG and the big Wall Street firms gave millions of dollars in bonuses to their execs, their apologists screamed that these were part of their contracts and therefore sancrosanct, holy holy holy, nolite tangere. Why are the salaries and benefits of Wisconsin public employees not also given the same consideration? Why does Walker get to breach a contract?

  45. It doesn’t really matter what FDR thinks in this context, because the majority of Wisconsin voters want the public sector workers to have collective bargaining rights. In this matter the tax payers of the state and the public sector workers are completely in line. The public sector is the last bastion of strong unions in this country. Less than 10% of private sector workers are covered under unions. But, of course, this meme from FDR is being spread like wildfire by the Koch/oligarch astroturfing machine. Think outside of the box and for yourself about what is right in these matters. Do not let the spin doctors sway you from your principles and ability to think critically on your own.

  46. Okay so I’m Dutch and even if all of this is of little consequence to me personally, I find it incredibly interesting. But. I’m not sure if I understand. Here’s what I do get.

    On the surface, the conflict seems to be as follows: tax cuts create shortfalls which demand budget cuts and one proposed cut is this teacher compensation.

    One side argues that this is only fair, they make too much. The other side argues it isn’t fair because they don’t make enough, or something of the like.

    Okay, fine. But then it gets complicated. Because the teachers have actually already given in and shown themselves willing to decrease their compensation. But the Governor won’t agree because in addition from cutting pay, he wants to take away the right to collective bargaining and won’t budge.

    All this seems uncontended and viably sourced. Here it gets confusing to me. So it’s not about the money. But what then? I mean, I tried to figure this out, but I can’t. I came up with a few answers, but none of them seems satisfying:

    My first answer is that this man is a great believer in the benefits of the free market, to whom collective bargaining just is an affront. Free markets are his pride and principal and he won’t compromise such a sacred notion even if it means facing an angry mob. But somehow, he doesn’t seem that Abe Lincoln-ish. Besides, outlawing a negotiation-tactic is hardly becoming of a free market advocate.

    My second answer is that this guy is in the pocket of his big money buddies. He has this deal in which he ‘reforms’ the school system and many other public services, ultimately privatizing them and in the process he grants the contracts to his buddies, and the taxpayer will end up paying twice. Once for the underpaid teacher, and again for the overpaid corporate construction that employs the teacher and has the ‘right’ to a profit. I’ll admit that I like this one, but it just seems way too paranoid.

    My third answer is that this is a political gamble designed to turn the state from it’s current reddish-blue to a solid red state. I mean, stripping collective bargaining cannot be good for the relevance of unions, who, I assume, do most of the bargaining. And since they also do a fair bit of the funding of democratic candidates and play a part in both democratic primaries and in actual campaigning, marginalizing these unions would seem a smart move in getting a swing state to stop swinging and stick with red. But if so, why exempt those three unions? Will they be dealt with later? And even if it’s a nice idea, why keep on sticking with it now that it has so obviously blown up in their faces?

    Sh*t, that’s a lot of words. Sorry about that. If you did make it this far, I’d love any opinions because really, I just don’t get it.

    1. Hello GP,

      Your confusion stems in part from the results of our last elections, and funding from a new political party called the Tea Party. During our last election, Republicans won many seats based on economic problems in America. Some candidates labelled as “Republican” were financially backed by Tea Party funding (as the Tea Party is basically an extreme version of Republican) and were more conservative than voters probably realized. A very successful, and well-backed campaign gave republicans a strong victory, and so, several extremely right-wing politicians gained office.


      Walker ranks among those.

      He’s fairly extreme, and his tactics have already shown to be bad for those he’s in charge of, but that news broke a week AFTER he was in office as governor.


      Walker is part of a group of Republicans that are nationally trying to break unions’ collective bargaining rights. They’re using our current recession as a way to try to claim “economic crises” to pass legislation that far oversteps any real attempt to balance budgets or solve immediate monetary problems (note that if you’re claiming a crisis, the solution HAS to work immediately as well as long term). Just so you know, this isn’t a generally popular idea. Most people realize that bargaining rights and funding are separate things. In Wisconsin, it’s clear that the public is not okay with stripping rights. Several polls have been taken on the subject. I’ve attached a link to one from NBC (a national news station) which says 62% are against stripping rights and only 33% say it’s acceptable.


      My answer to your last three statements is D: All of the Above.

      Walker does seem to think he understands free market economy. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not a totally free market. Due to the 2008 crisis, we’re currently a partially-managed economy that’s supposed to be in a state of re-growth. (Also unfortunately, Republicans are currently doing their best to slow it.) It’s an economic belief that free markets do break down, and when they do, government’s supposed to do things like encourage spending, otherwise new jobs never appear. Walker’s basically acting like a supporter of a really, really healthy free market. He needs to speak with some really honest economists, rather than take advice from billionaires with an agenda.

      Walker has already shown himself to be in someone’s pocket. He was recorded in a prank phone call where he believed he was speaking with David Koch, a billionaire contributor to his campaign. (It was an impersonator.) During that twenty minute call he discussed laying off 5000-6000 workers (part one 4:57) and his plan to trick the democratic senators back across state lines to create a quorum with no real intent to talk about resolution (part one 6:43). He also mentions a group of senators nationally that he believes will follow his lead (part two 1:21) including Nevada, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. Later “Koch” mentions planting “troublemakers” in the crowd (protests have been so peaceful they’ve gotten thank you’s from police) and Walker admits that “we thought about that…my only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that, that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor’s gotta settle to avoid all these problems.”(Part two 4:25)

      Since that phone call was made public, Walker locked down the capitol building. Protests have only continued to grow. It was a huge embarrassment for Walker, and really showed that his target was bargaining rights all along.

      Call part one: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBeastvideos#p/a/u/1/WBnSv3a6Nh4

      Call part two: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBeastvideos#p/a/u/0/Z3a2pYGr7-k

      Last bit: you’re dead on with the blue-red to red-red idea. I actually heard an interview with a senator from Ohio who said exactly that. The thing is: most people aren’t really red-red (or blue-blue) most people do fall someplace in the middle, and all this extremism has been a serious misstep. People are angry about the work that isn’t getting done while something they say they don’t want is being pushed for. BTW, I’m talking about multiple states here.
      In the end, it is a tactic to win elections. Business almost exclusively (to the 90th percentile) supports Republican interests, so the unions are the biggest contributor for Democrats. Part of the reason this is happening now is recent deregulation in campaign funding. As of January 2010,
      the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 “that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.” (source: wikipedia, link below) That opened up all sorts of funding for advertisement by corporations and unions which used to be unable to contribute directly to a campaign in any way. Since only unions can compete for air time with corporations, it’s hardly surprising that this argument’s happening now. Our next presidential race is in 2012.


      1. So to sum it up, you’re saying:

        1. The Governor believes he is acting in the long term best interest of the economy
        2. His political vision happens to coincide with the political agenda’s of his billionaire backers
        3. And it furthers a nationwide socio-political strategy of the Republicans to upset the funding of their ‘enemy’, the Democrats

        That would raise a few different questions. I have been watching the whole Tea-party thing, the whole Fox News/Right wing pundit media thing and wall street greed thing with mounting surprise, and now with this, the questions those raised with me have been raised again:

        1) How do the justify themselves to themselves?

        How would the governor justify, if even only to himself, his apparent willingness to be so deceitful (tricking the Senators into coming back and even considering using hired plants to smear the peaceful protesters, only deciding against it, not because it would be completely immoral, but because it might not have the desired effect?!)

        I mean, it’s something you’d expect from a Middle East dictator, not an American Governor? So what’s the thinking here? Is it “The end justifies all means?” Or is it more a question of it being very hard for a man to admit to being wrong when his fortune depends on his being right?

        2) What do they think will ultimately come from this?

        And another question, though in the same line. You mention the billionaire backers and the total-free-market as a political concept. I mean, is that something these billionaires actually BELIEVE in? That it would ultimately raise living standards for EVERYONE? Or is it a sort of philosophical window-dressing, used to obscure more base motivations such as tax cuts or even wanting to capitalize on public goods at cut-throat rates for future mega-profits, much like the privatization of the post-communist Russian economy?

        Because, I mean, if it’s just about the money, what gives? I’d rather be a multi-millionaire in a civilized and cultured democracy than a multi-billionaire in some sh*thole where a few have all and all the rest have nothing. Because there’s a name for places like that. They are called ‘Third-world countries” and over there, the general populace tends to kidnap or kill your kids if you don’t hide them behind big men and bigger walls…

        I guess what I am asking is, how can ANYONE, regardless of your own petty interests, actually believe it is a good idea to disown the state (=the people, after all). And how can ANYONE actually believe they are, well, ‘the good guy’ when they consider, without qualms, planting troublemakers to cause violence at an otherwise peaceful protest of your own citizens?

        What, in the end, is it that Governor Walker, his nationwide counterparts and his billionaire backers actually BELIEVE?

        Sorry about all those caps, by the way…

        1. Hello again, just saw your response.

          The reason why I say I think Walker believes he’s acting correctly is that he was taking these actions and had these beliefs before he had billionaires backing him. They chose him as someone who would fight against the unions because he already had. Now, please realize, I’m not saying he isn’t a lying, sneaky, underhanded jerk. He is. I just think he honestly believes he’s right, and he’s willing to bend and break all sorts of laws to get his way.

          Now in response to your questions (and none of it is good):

          #1 “How do the(y) justify themselves to themselves?”

          Well, up until they decided to take all financially-related items out of the bill, hold a special meeting with no notice (state law according to the Republican Attorney General requires 24 hours notice) and then send a stripped bill only containing the now “non-fiscal” item of collective bargaining (to get rid of that pesky quorum) through for a vote (passed http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20041840-503544.html ) they had a weak leg to stand on because they lied consistently.

          They swore, “Collective bargaining is a fiscal issue.” (Not really a direct quote, but a paraphrase.) OK, so they justified their actions by saying that without collective bargaining (a fiscally-necessary portion of the proposed budget bill) they could not let the bill pass.

          Once they (illegally mind you) passed that bill with no supposed fiscal implication, but the collective bargaining included (a budget bill, with no fiscal implication?!?), they really could only be called big, fat liars. They really can’t justify themselves to anyone.

          #2 “What do they think will ultimately come from this?”

          Well, now they’re probably hoping that, like our bankers, we’ll forgive (!?!) our politicians for corrupt acts (meaning that they’ll escape jail time and end up with even higher paying jobs after pulling something like this). Unfortunately for Walker, people started out this argument angry and disenfranchised. The lies that the Republicans are telling are bold-faced and the actions they’re taking are criminal. FYI, they’re currently trying to change the laws that will let them be removed from office – while they’re in office.

          Basically, “free market economy” is being used as window dressing here. Similarly, the terms “budget crisis” and “job killing” are watch words for the Republicans who are trying to let a poor economy be the key to let them into a lot of places they were soundly kept out of until now.

          Fortunately, the U.S. news has not decided to go to sleep while this is going on. People are finally starting to notice that similar events are occurring in multiple states, all under the claim that “budget crises” require drastic measures. In Michigan, the budget bill would allow the governor of any town declared to be in a state of financial emergency to replace elected officials with a governing body that could be a corporation.


          I’m afraid the 400 people who have as much money as the rest of the U.S. combined believe they ought to be able to physically play with all of it as well.

          1. “I’m afraid the 400 people who have as much money as the rest of the U.S. combined believe they ought to be able to physically play with all of it as well.”

            See Catgrin, I’m what, 5000 miles away, and that’s the feeling I’ve been getting too. Someone or some faction has a keen interest in usurping basic democratic rule in stead of what I can only imagine is a new type of feudalism.

            But I keep having problems with that conclusion. In part because it’s just way to paranoid-conspiracy-type-ish for me to accept.

            But mostly because I cannot honestly believe that anyone, even a multi-multi-billionaire would rather live in a society with such a degree of segregation over the current -by historical standards- free and open society.

            On a slightly different note: the way to absolute power in a free republic has always been through abuse of a serious crisis. This goes as far back as ancient rome, in which the position of Caesar was created to have one person in charge only temporary in a time of crisis. Long story short: after a while the temporary became permanent.

            Hell, even Hosni Mubarak based the legality of his reign on a state of emergency: which ended up lasting for 42 years.

            So tried and tested, I’d say. But again, what does one hope to win? The Roman Empire was not a pleasant place to live, not even for the rich. Ask the many noble and wealthy victims of Tiberius, Caligula or Nero.

            Same goes for Mubarak’s Egypt, I suspect.

          2. Glad to have such an intelligent discussion on this topic, and I hope you realize that I’m not in any way a generally paranoid-conspiracy-type-ish person. My feelings stem solely from the current actions of the Republicans and those who fund them. They are some very scary people who, in me at least, tend to engender feelings of being cast in a PKDick story.

            Once again, here’s an example: I dropped this link at the end of my last post, but I’m not sure if I fully explained it.

            Michigan’s new budget bill would allow the governor to independently declare a town to be “in a state of financial emergency” and after doing so replace duly elected officials with a governing body that he chooses – absent of influence from the town’s elected officials – that governing body can be a private corporation. So, if you’re town’s in a financial crisis, it can be turned over to a company to be run more efficiently (?). That’s just part of the power it hands over. The link lists more.


            All across the country we’ve got newly elected Republican governors pulling power grabs in their first months in office, and all of them are claiming they’re doing so because of deficit. In many cases, they’ve made that claim right after making an existing deficit worse by providing tax breaks to big business. (In Florida, K-12 schools lost $1.7B and big business got 1.6. In Wisconsin, Walker signed off on a series of big business tax breaks on his first day in office, then claimed all his following actions were necessary due to a looming deficit.) People are angry, and polls show that several of these guys should be worried about recall.

            So. With people protesting in several states, is it surprising that I’m afraid that the people causing this crisis – this true crisis of a breakdown in democracy – have no concern for the outcome? After all, the people we’re talking about already live totally apart from general society. They’re all so rich they could lose multiple individual fortunes and still be wealthy. It leaves me wondering if they all saw “History of the World: Part I” and only laughed at the line, “It’s good to be the king.”

            The Koch brothers alone have $19B each ($38B total, and they do pool their political capital) and at respective ages of 72 and 68, it could be that they’ve decided “What the heck, we won’t live forever. Let’s have some fun!” Hrrrmmm, if I was going to get all paranoid-conspriracy-ish for you, the hole I would point out in the argument of “who would want to live in that kind of society?” is this one: most of the 400 probably won’t be around to deal with it for too long, and at their advanced ages, after other thrills are gone, maybe domination is what’s left for them to get their kicks on.

            Here are the age brackets for the U.S. Forbes Richest Top 50

            48 are under 90, 44 are under 80, 26 are under 70
            13 are under 60, 5 are under 50, 2 are under 40

            After looking at that, you can see why I’m saying, “Yeah, Mubarak lasted 42 years. Half these guys know they’ve only got about 20 left. If they’re playing the odds…” (All said with a wink.)

            (Last bit, a correction. I previously wrote ” 400 people who have as much money as the rest of the U.S. combined” and the group actually has as much money as the 51% poorest people in the U.S. Not sure why I miswrote it. I know the stat. Apologies.)

  47. @grimc. “Below market pay” means pay so low that nobody will take the job. If somebody is willing to take it then there is a market for it.

    @Anon 122. I was following the general theme of “public teacher compensation is unfair because they don’t match their private sector counterparts” (I have no idea if it’s true but it’s been spouted so many times here I just accepted it). You make a very good point. In general American culture places a low value on education. In the end that is what matters.

    @catgrim. I do enjoy the fact that I usually only work 5 days a week. I would enjoy even more working only 3 days a week but there is a tradeoff here. We are more productive than France because we work harder. India may end up being more productive than us for the same reason. I am all for freedom and unions can run wild all they want, but our streak of ever-easier working conditions and ever-more-consumptive lifestyles can’t and won’t last forever.

    1. No, it doesn’t. Maybe you’re right about government workers not being the best and brightest after all.

    2. “but our streak of ever-easier working conditions and ever-more-consumptive lifestyles can’t and won’t last forever.”

      Are you only reading responses to your own comments? If so, I’ll re-provide a link I already provided in an earlier comment, and I’ll do it just for you.


      It’s been stated several times here that the unions offered concessions. Fact is, they offered concessions in under a week. Now, if you’re taking less money & benefits, you’re NOT “ever-more-consumptive.” You can’t be. It’s a physical impossibility. So, the unions tried to break the cycle you’re complaining about and Walker wouldn’t let them. Could it be you’re backing the wrong pony here?

      In fact, Walker refused them outright, no discussion, because he has only one goal – strip rights. Like I said in my last comment, “The problem with the current situation in Wisconsin is that the governor is trying to remove the unions’ rights to keep government & corporations in check, too.”

      P.S. The name is catgrin, with an “n” ; )

  48. I fail to see how an attempt to castrate unions and the opposition party’s main contributer is merely a “budget maneuver”. As if that excuses anything in the first place. As other’s have said, your manicure is a shitty analogy for the most important services the public provides.

    Astroturf more, mate.

  49. How does burning out experienced teachers benefit students? It can’t. These aren’t soldiers. Teacher’s don’t get fucking hazard pay. We’re talking about people with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and non-quantifiable skills. That’s >4 years of college education minimum. Never mind the ethical issues, there’s no way that it could be economical to cause them to have nervous breakdown’s and commit suicide. Christ, your views on education are repugnant.

    You should choose your words more carefully, so that we can actually take you seriously. Starting your comment with such an absurd statement really kills any desire I personally have to pay attention to anything else you have to say. I hope to god your first paragraph is a fit of insanity.

  50. Rindan, Anon #145 –
    I see the points you are trying to convey. Students should in fact come first, but teachers are human beings who have put vast amounts of effort and resources into their position. Rindan mentioned later in his comment that he didn’t mind if teacher’s were set up with new jobs and compensated for their education as long as they were replaced if they started doing poorly, which I agree with and feel may have been missed.

    I feel that these are two separate issues, the issue of having a union, and having a merit-based system. Right now in this political climate the rule seems to be that the ones who fight the hardest are the ones who get to choose how things are run, and the nation is polarized between slashing taxes/slashing budgets and.. well opposing that. This situation has been further agitated by the precedent allowing organizations to contribute directly to campaigns. Since as government employees, teachers are impacted by cuts made to education, it is all they can do to mobilize as unions and advocate their side as loudly as possible too. For this effort unions would want loyal, passionate members rather than fresh talent, and sadly the quality of education is suffering for it, but the quality of education is also suffering massively from the cuts and poor reforms in education. From the perspective of a student unions are the less debilitating force.

    In a better world without all this ridiculous greedy turmoil, perhaps teacher unions could be convinced to adopt a merit-based system, and the people who didn’t make the cut could be eased into other fields with their skills and kept as productive members of society.

  51. Thank you for this. My post has had more than 150,000 hits, more than 1000 comments and more than 800 links on Twitter. I think you were a huge part of making that happen. –Russell

  52. Is it true that Scott Walker isn’t even a US citizen?

    Has anyone seen his actual birth certificate in person?

    How would we know if Scott Walker is a North Korean agent sent here to cripple the US government?

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