FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Move Over, Chris Christie: Wisconsin’s Walker Gives Public-Sector Unions Some Tough Love
He’s been in office for less than two months, but it’s become clear that newly-elected Governor Scott Walker plans on cleaning up Wisconsin’s fiscal house and public-sector unions are not too happy.
Wisconsin, according to the Sunshine Review…
…[F]aces an estimated $58 million shortfall in its Medicaid budget, according to a new memo released this week by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This comes after the state learned it would receive $194 in federal funds for Medicaid. The state’s general fund is also expected to be $265 million short, reporting $71 million for the closing of the 2009-2010 financial year, instead of the expected $336 million.
As opposed to massive layoffs that could have been on the table, Walker has introduced that will both save jobs and help get the state back on track.
In an e-mail to all Wisconsin state employees, Walker laid out his budgetary goals, as well as a zinger for the union bosses to howl over:
Collective Bargaining – Given the above changes, the bill also makes various changes to limit collective bargaining to the base pay rate. Total increases cannot exceed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) unless approved by a referendum. Contracts will be limited to one year and wages will be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units will have to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers will be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units will not be required to pay dues. These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts. Local police and fire employees and State Patrol Troopers and Inspectors are exempted from these changes.
Of course, unions are crying foul:
“Employees will not have justice. They will not have a say in the workplace. That’s anti-American,” Danny McGowan, business representative of Teamsters Local 662, said.
Local union leaders are up in arms over the proposal.
“It’s nothing more than an attack on labor,” McGowan said. “We can’t fix the states budget woes off the backs of public employees. It’s not fair, because it’s not their fault.”
Contrary to the Teamster’s claim, Walker’s plan does include the continuation of the grievance system:
Wisconsin’s Civil Service System –The Budget Repair Bill and my 2011-2013 Biennial Budget proposal will not include any provisions to alter or modify the main tenets of Wisconsin’s Civil Service System, one of the strongest in the nation. The grievance and dispute resolution systems currently in place, as well as all employee protections, will remain.
No word yet on when the unions are planning their childish marches, candlelight vigils, and attack ads, but they are sure to come.
In the meantime, it looks like Chris Christie’s got some new competition in the tough love department.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776