Wisconsin gets it. Let’s hope the rest figure it out.

WisconsinAgain, this is not about opposition to organized labor. Unions have done great good for society and workers and labor conditions over the last 100 or so years.

But the goings-on in Wisconsin show us the difference between organized private sector labor and organized public sector labor.

Scott Walker and the Wisconsin took drastic steps to prevent a fiscal crisis. A significant part of that required changing the rules on what can and cannot be included in collective bargaining agreements for public sector contracts.

Remember: those are the ones where the parties bargaining with one another are divvying up tax dollars. The politician (management) is supposed to be the good steward of the public money (i.e., your and my tax dollars). The workers’ negotiators are trying to get the best deal for their workers. So far so good. The problem comes when the politicians realize that they will get more of that sweet, sweet milk of political life—campaign contributions (from Big Labor)—if they demonstrate greater willingness to give the unions more of what they want—your and my tax dollars.

And if tax dollars start running out? Well, raise ’em. The fat cats who run private sector companies are greedy, right?

Set that in contrast to the private sector contract negotiations. In those, the management has a finite pool of money to figure out how to divvy up among all business expenses—rent, utilities, salaries, benefits, capital improvements, research and development, oh, and those aforementioned taxes—and they cannot simply raise taxes to get more money. They actually have to satisfy the market and attract customers to buy what they’re selling. So the private sector negotiations are intrinsically different. Unlike the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-fund-your-campaign relationship in the public sector negotiations, there is an adversarial relationship, no matter how congenial the relationship between management and labor at a given company.

In Wisconsin they passed laws that, among other things, greatly curtailed the ability of politicians and public sector labor to stick it to the tax payers for their own mutual benefit. This, naturally, enraged those who liked that arrangement quite a bit, thankyouverymuch.

Well, the reforms worked, the budget deficit is gone already, and yesterday the voters of Wisconsin strongly rejected the Dems’ and Big Labor’s recall of Governor Walker.

Collective bargaining in the private sector is not a bad thing, in and of itself. It can be done poorly by the management, and it can be abused by the unions, either to the detriment of the company. But public sector collective bargaining, since the money is not earned but is taken through taxation, is an entirely different animal. Thus, the laws must treat it differently to protect the tax-paying public.

Wisconsin gets it. Let’s hope the rest of the country figures it out soon.



  • mjg

    funny, no one likes to hear from the people these policies actually hurt. and being the good Catholic family that we are we have 6 children and aren’t really interested in buying an insurance policy on the market. It would cost my entire salary from MPS, which, by the way, was reduced by 15% down by $400 a month.

  • Rusty

    Wow you really believe that load of crap you just wrote about. Scott Walker is being lead around like a well groomed sheep. I guess you missed seeing all the people gathering from city to city standing in the cold snow covered ground defending their rights. Scott Walker is now owned by the koch brothers and will do what they tell him to. This is about greed and power. If the people want the unions to go away then they will find a legal way to make it happen. As for a balanced budget, surely you have checked your facts and verified that the money necessary to show a positive amount was borrowed on a credit card.
    At least I am not a lazy American that takes everything they hear and see on tv as the gospel truth. Now if any of you are confused just take the time to look up the facts after all they are on public record.

    • Erin

      While there were people out in the streets standing in favor of the unions on this issue, there were clearly more people standing up for Gov Walker in the ballot box. The people of WI were given an opportunity to replace Gov Walker and they clearly chose to stand behind him. That says a lot. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way you would have liked, but the responsibility lies solely with your fellow voters.

    • Linda in WI

      I’ve said this before today, and I’ll say it again: As a Wisconsinite who voted for Walker, I’m sick of hearing the losing side say he only won because he was supported by big money! It’s insulting. Do you think you’re so much smarter than the majority of our state who agreed with Governor Walker and with what he had the guts to do? You think the majority of us can be bought or tricked by fancy advertising? You really think we’re that dumb? We got tired of the Democrats whining (and leaving the state when they couldn’t get their way) just because they didn’t agree with his actions. We got tired of public employee unions thinking that 1K is too much to contribute toward their deductibles. We got tired of people being FORCED to join unions if they wanted to have a job as a public employee. We got tired of expecting our children and grandchildren to pay for public employee pensions that make our own pensions (if we’re even lucky enough to have them) look paltry. We’re tired of being in debt. We’re tired of the mailings giving out information to our neighbors on who voted and who didn’t. We’re tired of Democrats who say “We survived Bush, you’ll survive Obama,” but aren’t willing to “survive” Walker. Grow up and stop blaming the win on the fact that Walker had more money for advertising. Face the facts; the people have spoken.

  • Anonymous

    I’m no leftie or fan of organized labor. However I think if you are going to post a blatantly political post like this on a site that purports to be teaching the Catholic faith, that the post should be a lot more religious and less partisan.

  • liberti

    What people are forgetting is that there is a federal model for public sector collective bargaining. Federal employees, by law, contribute 22% to their medical plans. Been going on for decades. Since 1986 with FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System), federal employees contribute to their retirement (like a 401K) with mg’t contributing matching funds which took the place of the old Civil Service retirement system. Fed employee salaries are not negotiated but set by the Congress, GS (General Schedule) except for specialized occupations under WG (wage grade). Cost-of-living (COLA) raises (fed employees have not received one for 3 years) under congressional jurisdiction. Also, fed employees choose to join the union, they are not forced to do so. So, let the State public sector employees follow the federal model.

  • Michael

    The claim that public employee benefit cuts “balanced” the budget is not really factual. For starters, the budget wasn’t balanced…you may recall Walker simply kept national foreclosure settlement funds to balance the budget, rather than distribute to affected homeowners. Second, this completely ignores the $900 million cut from schools in the state to pay for corporate and upper-tax tier individual tax cuts, and the hundreds of millions cut to Medicare and Medicaid in the state. Something had to pay for those corporate/wealthy cuts. For those of us with senior family members in the state, the cuts ARE being felt. The question is: when will the trickle down start? Is 5900 jobs (circa March) created in the first half of his term acceptable for brunt of the cuts felt by the middle and lower classes? http://www.jsonline.com/news/128099318.html

  • Lazerus Long

    It’s about time!!!!!

    • liberti

      Sorry, meant to press like not dislike.



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