. . . after Mutnodjmet is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, pictured at left in a photo from his successful gubernatorial campaign. He has taken aim at the public employee unions in his state, and outrage has ensued. If only Jerry Brown would follow suit.Walker has taken the sensible stance that public employee unions should have limited bargaining rights and should contribute to their own pension and health plans. According to the American Federation of Teachers web site his proposals include:
- Limiting collective bargaining to the base pay rate; and requiring approval by referendum of any wage increase that exceeds the Consumer Price Index .
- Requiring an annual vote of collective bargaining units to maintain certification as a union.
- Rescinding the right of faculty and academic staff in the University of Wisconsin System to collectively bargain.
- Prohibiting employers from collecting union dues through payroll deduction.
- Increasing the amount state, school district and municipal employees pay toward their pension benefit under the Wisconsin Retirement System. State employees, for example, currently contribute about 0.2 percent of their gross pay, says Art Foeste, chair of AFT-Wisconsin’s State Employees Council. Under Walker’s proposal, workers would pay 50 percent of the monthly contribution amount. For 2011, Walker estimates the contribution would be 5.8 percent of gross salary. Foeste, a member of the AFT Public Employees program and policy council, says the increase “would be equivalent to a more than 6 percent pay reduction.”
- Upping state employee health insurance premium contributions. Currently, employees pay approximately 6 percent of the annual premium, or $78 a month for the family plan. Walker wants to increase worker contributions to “at least 12 percent of monthly premiums.”
Sounds like a great template for states across the country. Unbelievably, the AFT web site describes these measures as a sign of disrespect to the workers. I know of no other retirement plan where workers contribute a paltry 0.2% of their pay for their own retirement and only 6% of their health insurance premium. In return for concessions, the governor has said their will be no furloughs (layoffs), and still the unions are stirring up huge trouble. Here is a picture (at right) of union protests from the WSJ.
And let’s not forget the real import of the plan to reduce union power and therefore curb state deficits: it might harm Democrat electoral chances.
Proposals in Wisconsin and other states have “great ramifications” beyond the damage to union coffers and membership, said Gerald McEntee, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation’s biggest public-sector union.
Unions have told the Obama administration that the state fights could affect the 2012 presidential election by draining unions’ political resources, especially in states like Wisconsin and Ohio. “I think it can put him in some [political] danger,” Mr. McEntee said of the president.
Cross posted to The Liberator Today. Don’t forget to take The Liberator Today’s poll on renaming the Coronado Bay Bridge for Ronald Reagan, only two days left to post.