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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
Wisconsion Senate Republicans and Governor are petty
The Wisconsin governor is threatening to lay off 1500 people if at least one of the democrat senators don't return by the weekend. I ask this of you: How many more will ultimately be laid off if one does return, and will those be justified because the job no longer serves a purpose, and how many will just be to 'save' money because they don't want to lessen how much is put into grants, committees, and special projects that ultimately line their pockets?

Everything I've heard the Wisconsin senate and governor threaten so far has been petty, hollow, or, worse yet, inconstitutional. Threatening to fine 100$/day for being missing is inconsequential to their incomes, even at 40 business days missing (two calendar months). Theatening to put the state police on them is also hollow, as they're not even in the state police's jurisdiction. On top of that it could be inconstitutional, which will only return to hurt them.

I don't even know the real issue at stake here. Just the tactics I hear being used seem ... wrong.
18 comments or Leave a comment
Asa Ayers [google.com] From: Asa Ayers [google.com] Date: March 4th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not petty. Part of their job is to vote on proposed bills. They can vote in either direction, but a bill was introduced and they all decided they won't come back to work until whoever is in favor of the bill gives up on it. I'm pretty sure if you didn't like something at work and decided you weren't going to come back until you get your way you'd get fired. That sounds REALLY childish.

Also, I don't see what's unconstitutional about telling someone they need to get back here and do their job. It might be that there is nothing that can legally be done.
raist_ From: raist_ Date: March 4th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

I first felt as you did.

I believe the Democrats are willing to return if the removal of collective bargaining rights was removed from the budget repair bill.

The unions have agreed to all of the financial concessions. They just want the ability to bargain as a unit in the future when the economy is better. Is that so wrong?

I support my state senator (who happens to be one of those Democrats waiting over the state border) in this. The ENTIRETY of the senators' job is to protect and support those in their district. That's what they're doing.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: March 5th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I first felt as you did.

Exactly. The provisions for a quorum are precisely to help create a state of political democracy rather than mob rule. It is one bulwark against the majority taking away rights from the minority - such as is clearly being attempted here.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: March 4th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
The only reason the senator's absence is a huge deal is because it takes more people present than it does to pass the issue. That was probably added for a reason in the past, and these senators are taking full advantage of that.

I still haven't heard any good reasons why taking away collective bargining is such a critical issue. Are they being forced to pay them too much? Are they making outrageous demands? Are they refusing to take a pay cut to "save" the state budget? (The idea that one single area of the budget can so hugely affect the "saving" of the budget leads me to think something is way out of balance, and I doubt its the lowly worker salary).

It's unconstitutional because their constitution says their lawmakers (senators) can only be arrested during session hours for very specific reasons, which don't include this one.
sisyphus238 From: sisyphus238 Date: March 4th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
If Wisconsin succeeds in disallowing collective bargaining, there will be no reason for the union(s) to exist. Walker is a Tea-Party Republican who has garnered huge support from, among others, the Koch brothers. The whole thing is just a ploy to take away financial support from the Democrats.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: March 4th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Breaking up the democrats, in my opinion, wouldn't be the end of the world. It's not like every democrat would suddenly turn into a republican, after all. It would give the republicans a brief period of supremacy, but once the parties who take over the Republicans get their act together then the Republicans will probably break apart as well.

Too many people vote party line because that is their party line, or that's what the other side doesn't want. *shakes head*
sisyphus238 From: sisyphus238 Date: March 5th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Eight years of Bush have brought us to this pass. True, the Dems aren't that much better, but with no money to back them, the field is left open for the Republicans to finish the job they started; the complete dismantlement of what ever is left of "democracy" and its replacement by the Corporatocracy and its minion of theocrats.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: March 4th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's an attempt to wipe out unions. The irony of it is that they talk like teachers make that much, then stress how important it is that they sacrifice. Turn around and ask them about CEOs and stock brokers and investment bankers and--oh good god no, you want to cut their salaries and ask them to sacrifice?!?

The top 2% of the income brackets can't bear to pay a slightly higher tax rate, but people who on average make 50k for working doubletime ten months of the year for some reason must?

Then they also act like taking away collective bargaining rights is just about teachers--saying that teachers make so much more than 'the workers'. It's true, but dismantling unions would hurt 'the workers' more than the teachers anyway.

They pretend to be allies when in fact they're lying douches. This is why no matter how fucked up they get, I always wind up voting democrat.
tazwolf From: tazwolf Date: March 4th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having been a union worker, the only thing that unions care about is lining their own pockets, they don't care for the workers. When i tried to file a complaint with my union, they basically told me to suck it.
Unions served their purpose about a 100 or so years ago, now they are just another largess that takes and takes and only gives to the rich politicians who sit across the table from them in the negotiations to get more money for the unions. The teachers and others would be better off telling the unions to shove off, but unfortunately, we've been brainwashed to believe that unions are needed to protect the workers, this is no longer the case.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: March 4th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Under practically any other circumstance I would agree with you, but in this case I haven't heard one peep out of the news articles saying that the Governor or Republican Senators have shown these unions are lining their pockets, making outrageous claims, not responding to member claims, etc. Getting details on what the entire issue is is pretty hard, though, as neither side is making it very clear what they expect to get out of this argument.

If what another poster has said, regarding the unions accepting all the cuts that the rest of the bill requests, is true then it sounds like the Governor and Senate Republicans need to back down this time and try again another time, when they can clearly paint the unions as the ones asking too much or pocketing too much, or whatever.
raist_ From: raist_ Date: March 4th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome to verify it. The public worker unions have repeatedly offered to give those concessions, as long as they have the right to collectively bargain in the future when the economy allows it.

There's been another argument: That the dispute over allowing public workers to collectively bargain for wages is just a cover so that people won't read the actual budget repair bill and see what it's hiding.

One of the clauses in the bill that Walker tried to rush through the legislature so quickly, grants him the power to sell off public assets (Namely, state-owned power companies) without requiring a public bidding process. IE, he can sell state owned assets at any price, to anyone he wants, without the public being able to know.

Another part of the bill attempts to tamper with how BadgerCare (what the state calls Medicaid) is run; who is eligible, etc.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: March 5th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow; I hadn't read about those two bits... this guy's a real asshole.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: March 4th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit, I wouldn't be surprised if what you've said is true.

However, even if they are corrupt, dismantling them entirely by taking away what allows them to exist is certainly not the answer. This would be somewhat like making it illegal for companies to sell stock (or more specifically, derivatives) because of the recent big bust.
tazwolf From: tazwolf Date: March 7th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
actually, there are attempts being made in the SEC to not allow companies to sell stocks and derivatives that they KNOW are backed by bad collateral, the same crap that caused the majority of the collapse.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: March 5th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure how "My union didn't represent me in the way I felt they should" leads to the logical conclusion "All unions everywhere only care about their own existence and are no longer necessary."

I don't think it's particularly controversial to say most workers (both unionized and not) have a common sense understanding that wages and benefits are steadily shrinking and that the power and wealth of corporations and management (especially top management) are steadily growing. To me, this doesn't suggest the declining influence of unions has had a positive effect for workers, and therefore doesn't suggest workers would somehow become better off if unions disappeared entirely. Beyond this, studies document that union workers have higher wages, a broader array of benefits, and better benefit options than non-union workers - this suggests there is at least some utilitarian value to being in a union beyond getting more money for the unions.

Saying that unions have flaws and aren't perfect isn't enough to jump to the conclusion they have no purpose and shouldn't exist. If that were so, we'd have to say all social groups and institutions should be done away with.
tazwolf From: tazwolf Date: March 7th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unions today are not what they were even 50 years ago. Today, they are huge corporations unto themselves.

My beef with my former union has to deal with the fact that I was fired for not coming to work (after calling in sick and having a Dr's note to the fact that I was running a 100+ fever) where my union sided with the management and said I had no case. That is not what the union was for. it was a shit job anyway, and I moved on, but it still gave me a bad taste for the unions of today.
sisyphus238 From: sisyphus238 Date: March 5th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)
From: anarchomo Date: March 5th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
When I was a labor radical we were constantly giving the bigger unions flak for not staying accountable to their members. It would be good for most working people if the unions win this fight, but it would also be good for most working people if the unions stopped supporting the Democrats--you can't outspend the rich on lobbying, that money is better spent on organizing people and countering the anti-labor propaganda that is constantly coming from the business press.

Everything changes when you look into labor history. e.g. most of the rest of the industrialized world has universal health care with lower costs and better outcomes than us, because the unions in those countries fought for it. And it was the communists in those unions who chose to go that route. In the US the radicals were mostly kicked out of the big unions under McCarthyism, and so the American unions only pursued health care for themselves, which is part of why people here as less keen on organized labor than they are elsewhere. There's a lot of history playing out in these fights and they never talk about it.
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