WI PUDs, unions & chanters

Public Union Democrats, and their chanting supporters do a disservice to Wisconsin people in hard economic times.

In November, 2010 a majority of Wisconsin citizens voted to empower Republican solutions. In the weeks leading up to the election, different approaches to addressing State and local economic challenges were debated; the electorate spoke decisively. Newly elected Governor Walker, with compassion, seriousness, patience and honor, has explained budgetary difficulties and options to address the coming deficits: (1) raise taxes; (2) fire, furlough or layoff workers; (3) reduce worker’s paid compensation; (4) gain authority to sell off certain State assets; and (5) rebalance the negotiating power between unions and governmental bodies to reduce the growth of governmental labor costs. The Governor has chosen to reject option 1, and to propose and support options 3, 4 & 5; he has sufficient apparent support to enact these changes through lawful legislation. Option 2 is retained, but viewed as a least desirable last resort.

The disservice by Public Union Democrat (PUD) legislators, public unions and the chanters arises from their shameless disregard for the rule of law and their failure to treat the Republican majority’s attempts to address these serious problems with respectful and constructive words and actions.

The State Senator PUDs have violated their oath of office by running away from the State and their obligations to faithfully carry out their legislative duties and uphold the law. The State Assembly PUDs have created a mob-like threatening atmosphere in the Capitol and exhibit childish and disingenuous outrage at the eventual speedy response to persistent PUD delaying tactics. Genuine debate has been reduced to glittering generalities and slogans that reduce the many specific components of the proposal to “busting the union” or “taking away worker’s union” or “ending collective bargaining”.

The public unions for their part are also disingenuous. The public union preference is to “raise taxes”. However, the taxing option has been rebuffed this year by a legislative majority who instead voted to reduce taxes. The majority believes tax reduction will provide private sector economic growth which benefits all citizens. Historically, the second choice of unions has been to favor unemployment of its members over any reduction in compensation rates or benefits. Union winners and losers are usually based on seniority, not merit. Unions sometimes sacrifice an entire group to layoffs in order to keep or raise compensation rates.

The chanters are ruled by emotion. There seem to be two types: happy chanters and angry chanters. There are a fair number of student happy chanters in Madison, Wisconsin whose energetic drum beating party atmosphere displays a woeful disregard of the seriousness of the personal impact of choosing or not choosing the various options to address very serious problems. Essentially their view is a child-like focus on the present moment oblivious to the gathering storm. On the other hand, the angry chanters, instead of seriously engaging the difficult choices, have an “us versus them” mentality.  Angry chanters have false and fearsome imaginings of their foes.  The angry chanters direct hostility towards their opponents with a bigotry equal to their imaginings and are sometimes violent. Both types of chanters withdraw from engagement in logical discourse. They denigrate the good will of those offering economic solutions which differ from their own precepts.  Chanters vigorously oppose even temporary burdens on their favored group, the unionists.  At the same time chanters support PUDs and public unions, who would further burden taxpayers. These are the same demagogues that decry their favorite whipping boy – the rich.  These are the same hypocrites who support (more silently, but ultimately) in negotiations, unionist seniority and pay rates over continued employment of those public workers who would be furloughed, laid off, and fired when government has been stymied in all its other attempts to achieve a balanced budget.

Supporters of Gov. Walker’s proposals would do well to remember and internalize that his offered solutions will necessitate sacrifices by public employees. These are real and should not be trivialized. It is no small thing to abruptly reduce someone’s disposable income and disrupt family budgets.  It is little comfort to point out that many in the private sector had to make similar sacrifices or have less to begin with. However, people would also do well to realize that these proposals are not being made to punish public employees, but to address an unsustainable taxpayer burden that holds back the economy thereby hurting all citizens including those very same public sector workers. The Walker proposals would also re-balance negotiating power between taxpayers and unions, provide more freedom for workers to choose their associations, provide an opportunity to decide whether the high dues cost of union membership is worth the advantages, open the door for merit pay possibilities, and grant local governments the flexibility to make needed changes.

Just as proponents of welfare reform and school choice were unjustly vilified, now Alinsky-style tactics are being used against proponents of public union law changes. These changes are long overdue and the sooner that they are made, the sooner Wisconsin will begin to see their benefits for all citizens.

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