Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Wisconsin

I lived in Milwaukee for some years. I hated the weather but loved the city and very much liked the people. Down to earth, friendly and very open; blue collar types for the most part. Milwaukee, at the time, was a very industrial city with many huge manufacturing plants, and was very much a union town. I was a member of the IBEW for a time, and then a Teamster. I tend to be pro-union.

The claims of today’s liberals that Wisconsin is engaged in “union busting” omit to note that the action in that state is being taken with respect to public sector unions, and not even all of them, and is not intended to affect any private sector unions in any way.

The sainted FDR, who no Democrat has yet to admit ever did anything wrong in his life, opposed public sector unions, as did George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO in 1955. The reason both men held that opinion was that the bargaining of private sector unions was counterbalanced against the profits of business, while that of public sector unions was counterbalanced against the financial interests of their fellow citizens.

Where have these liberals been, where has been all of the striking, demonstrating and editorializing while the private sector unions have been being eviscerated over the past twenty years in this nation? Private sector unions, which are in the public’s interest, are allowed to go down to defeat at the hands of industry but public sector unions, whose wage and benefits increases raise taxes, must be protected at all costs.

President Obama made reference to public sector workers who “work hard and make sacrifices.” They may or may not in Wisconsin, but they certainly don’t make sacrifices in San Diego where the public worker salary averages 30% more than comparable jobs in the private sector. They pay no contribution to their health care, nor to a pension plan that allows them to retire as young as age 55 with a pension equal to 100% of the highest annual salary they ever attained and paid health care for life. The fact that their pay and benefits contributes to a San Diego budget crisis in tens of millions doesn’t seem to bother them very much.

The union members in Wisconsin say, now, that they are willing to negotiate the issues and always have been. They say, now that their union’s existence has been threatened, that they will concede “the financial issues.” That just shows that the union was bluffing and the Wisconsin executive was not. He called their bluff and, having failed to call his bet, it is too late for the union to pick their cards back up. The pot has been pulled.

The Wisconsin teachers who are phoning in sick in order to “walk the picket line” are joyfully proclaiming that a judge ruled that their action is not an illegal strike. By the letter of the law, perhaps not, but they know what they are doing; they are striking in their own behalf and smugly hiding behind technicalities. Their version of “right” is doing whatever you can get away with, which is exactly why their union damn well should be busted.

Update, 9:15am: I'm not sure of the factuality of it, but according to Karl Denniger, Governor Walker, "ran on a platform that, among other things, promised to do away with collective bargaining for teachers for all items other than pay." So before the election he said he would do this, he won the election, he is now doing what he said he would do and the grits are hitting the fan. Interesting. Why did they elect him if they didn't want him to do this? (I'm not accusing Karl of anything, he's pretty reliable, but I'm always cautious of citing single sources.)

Reminds me of Evan Meecham in Arizona. He campaigned for governor on a promise that he would cancel a Martin Luther King holiday which had been created illegally, and would then sponsor the creation of one in a legal manner. He did what he promised, and then got impeached for it. Well... He actually was a crook, but the trigger that prompted his impeachment was the holiday cancellation.

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