It shouldn’t surprise me that no news outlet is covering the Wisconsin union problem with any clarity at all. Everything I have heard centers around Governor Walker wanting to strip public unions of collective bargaining rights. The storyline goes, that in order to solve the budget crisis, he has to do something.
That’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t address what is actually going on. So let’s do that now…
First, there are two distinct sets of players on the “pro-union” side of this issue: rank and file teachers, and pro union liberals of all kinds. This is an important distinction.
Second, let’s examine what the actual complaints are, which differ for each group. For the rank and file teachers, they have three complaints:
1) They do not want to contribute to their own health care costs. Right now, the State pays about 94% of ALL teachers health care costs.. Governor Walker wants them to pay 12% of their health care bill – the State would still cover 88% of their bills!
2) They do not want to contribute to their own retirement – at all. Robert Costrell of the Wall Street Journal unpacked Wisconsin teacher benefits and found that:
- The Wisconsin state pension plan requires a 6.8% employer contribution and 6.2% from the employee. However, according to the collective-bargaining agreement in place since 1996, the district pays the employees’ share as well, for a total of 13%.
- In addition to the state pension, Milwaukee public-school teachers receive an additional pension under a 1982 collective-bargaining agreement. The district contributes an additional 4.2% of teacher salaries to cover this second pension. Teachers contribute nothing.
- Most other school employees belong to the city’s pension system instead of the state plan. The city plan is less expensive but here, too, according to the collective-bargaining agreement, the district pays the employees’ 5.5% share.
Pretty sweet deal, eh? I’d love to have this kind of deal. But as a self employed tax payer, I get to pay 100% of my retirement, 100% of my health care costs AND pay for the the retirement and health care of these public workers. And if you think this is confined to Wisconsin taxpayers, think again – the federal government sent Wisconsin $669 Million in 2008, the last year we have records for.
3) Teachers complain that Governor Walker is taking away their collective bargaining rights. First of all, this is not true. The Governor’s plan still allows for collective bargaining, just not for pensions and benefits – only for salary, which would have an established cap.
The worst part about this claim, is that many of the teacher present the policy in terms of a human right. Collective bargaining is nowhere near a human right. To say so is uninformed, ignorant, and simply unintelligent. It’s a shame we need to cover this, but evidently, there are enough TEACHERS, who don’t understand what a human right is. A human right, is one that exists inherently in the human condition; it is one we have merely by being human. The Declaration of Independence describes human rights as “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Collective bargaining “rights” are granted by representative legislators, not by the Creator.
If Wisconsin teachers want the law to reflect the ability to collectively bargain for anything and everything, they need to vote leftists into office and let them pass a law to that effect.
Now we get to the union position. By union position I mean all the leftists other than the teachers. For the teachers, I actually have some sympathy; they’re just protesting because they’re losing their free ride. Heck, I’d probably protest too if I was promised free health care and a free retirement savings and then it was taken away. Still, it was ridiculous to have been promised in the first place, but I digress…
This second group of what I call “the union” is made up of all kinds of people – professional union supporters and leftists of all shapes and sizes. These are the SEIU, the AFSCME, AFL-CIO, NEA and others. These groups have many different reasons to protest the Wisconsin legislation, compared to the teachers. The two big reasons are:
1) The new law will prevent union dues from being taken directly out of teacher paychecks. The way it now stands, the union has a nice setup. They just sit back and watch the money pour into their coffers, each time paychecks are cut. If this is taken away, all of the sudden, teachers will have to send a check to the union – how do you think they’ll like stroking a $1,000.00 check each year? Common sense would tell us that some may not like this so much and might find a better use for their thousand bucks.
2) The new law will prevent the unions from bargaining for more pensions and benefits. The way it stands now, there is institutional corruption. Tax money goes into the government, the government pays the teachers, money is taken directly form their paycheck to the unions, the unions send the money to democrat PACs and political races, democrats get into office and sit at the table to agree to more benefits for the teachers. Then the cycle repeats itself.
This is money laundering, pure and simple. Here is an illustration ToBeRIGHT put together to show how this works:
Both are on the wrong side of the argument.