For those who have not been following American politics as of late, many Republican state leaders are pushing through legislation to strip collective bargaining rights of state union employees. Of course no Governor has pushed this more than Wisconsin’s Scott Walker who is the subject of today’s editorial cartoon.
And whether you are pro-union or anti-union, you both have reason to not be happy with Governor Walker. Seems his dictator like strategy to push through his legislation not only flies in the face of civil discourse but also sets the stage for Democratic majority state senates to do the same thing when they want to do something beyond what the public is looking for. See here for one union member’s take. And see here for Scott Walkers reasoning for what he did.
Even if you agree that state unions need to reign in their power, all Walker has done is embolden the unions to rally against it. Now, instead of saving state budgets but limited collective bargaining for a couple years and having union workers contribute to healthcare like the private sector does, there will be referendums on ballots everywhere that will turn the tide and ultimately put everyone back where they started.
Wisconsin State Journal, editorial cartoonist Phil Hand says it better than I do:
Gov. Scott Walker is not the dictator that many of the protesters make him out to be, but he’s also not particularly politically savvy. I support most of the policy in his budget repair bill, but because of his inability to negotiate or compromise, I can no longer support the governor.
The public employee unions in this state are too powerful, and this bill contains several measures to pare back the influence that the unions have in the state. Getting workers to contribute more to their pension and health care costs is essential. Making union membership voluntary is fair and just. Making unions re-certify themselves on a regular basis is a reasonable idea. Limiting collective bargaining power for the next two years (as Sen. Dale Schultz wanted to do) would give local governments the flexibility to deal with our current fiscal crisis.
I think the liberals and the unions can accept these terms, but Walker won’t budge on the permanent termination of collective bargaining. I don’t know where that leaves us. We could see massive layoffs, statewide strikes and maybe even violence in our future.
With some minor compromises Walker has the chance to enact some very conservative legislation that would dramatically limit the power of the state unions. But instead Walker has opted for ideological purity over pragmatic policy making.