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Wisconsin and Labor Relations In America

The power struggle deepening in Wisconsin and across the country over how workers, bosses, and budgets face the future.

Los Angeles County employee rallies in solidarity with Wisconsin workers outside Los Angeles City Hall. (AP /Jason Redmond)

The drama in Wisconsin over union rights and public spending blew up with a force that jolted the whole country wide awake.

Awake to fiscal crisis not far away but right there, in states, cities and towns.  Awake to what could be won and lost in that crisis for workers and all labor rights.  Awake to hard resentment that has grown in the private sector over public sector jobs and retirements.

Wisconsin’s battle has been ruggedly clarifying. On power, politics, pay, prospects.  And it’s not over.  And it has spread.

This hour, On Point: Wisconsin’s battle stretches out, and goes deep.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Jason Stein, Capitol reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Steven Greenhouse, Labor and workplace reporter for the New York Times and author of “The Big Squeeze:  Tough Times for the American Worker”

John Harwood, Chief Washington correspondent for CNBC and a columnist at the New York Times

James Taranto, member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and writes the “Best of the Web Today” column for OpinionJournal.com.

More:

Photos from the Protests and Counterprotests - For and Against the labor struggle that began in Wisconsin:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Hendrickson/1652586055 Joshua Hendrickson

    If only this pro-union, anti-Republican fire would spread to the rest of the country! That would be change we could believe in.

    • Michael

      by the time 2012 hits it prob will, since the republicans spent 2 years attacking the dem’s and once elected hasn’t done anything for job growth and decided to focus on attacking unions,gays,blacks,Latinos,women, the poor. Even know many will prob hold there noses voting for obama many will be up in arms voting out republicans. Now the McCarthy style attack on Muslims when the Southern Poverty law center is showing a increase in non Muslim radicals

      Or Just wait when the house passes a bill bailing out the bank of Kabul while telling fellow Americans they must suffer. . Or when Gate and company start requesting Billions in funding for the wars.

  • Beverly

    If there can still be someone who doesn’t understand unions, plenty of information is available.

    Dr. Phillip Dine, (2008 winner of prestigious Lewis Award for Exemplary Journalism), has written a comprehensive book on the subject, “State of the Unions”. Read this, & all will become clear.

    Americans have finally educated themselves. They have come together to fight tyranny, & stand up for the rights of the working class. Union bashers have made all of us realize just how important unions are; they make America strong.

    • LinP

      Agreed. Maybe private sector workers will wake up and see the power of what good unions can provide, and begin asking for the same protections and bargaining powers. They too are the “working class.”

      • Cory

        I can’t “like” this comment enough times.

        • new civility

          Like it all you want…unions are dead

    • Ryan H

      Unions are out dated in today’s global economy. They force a monopoly, hinder competition, drive up costs and threaten the stability of whichever business or government entity they exploit.

  • William

    Unions seem so old-fashioned and out of touch with the new global economy. Their basic business model is to create a monopoly and lock out any competition. This type of business model has failed.

    • Cory

      Yup, we should put our faith and trust in ownership and mangement. They’ll take care of us.

      • Ryan H

        They hired you didn’t they? Live within your means and you will be ok. Quit with your since of entitlement!

        • Cory

          Yes, yes… We aren’t entitled to anything…. It’s lord of the flies meets natural selection… What a wonderful world you propose…

      • new civility

        Try putting faith in yourself for a change….you’d be surprised at what you can do.

      • Zing

        Or dare I say it?…..God

    • Alan Shulman, NH

      So if unions are “so old-fashioned,” I’d like to know what proposal you have for securing workers’ rights to decent wages, hours and working conditions, which have been won in this country over the course of close to two hundred years? What is your counter-proposal for this new age of the global economy? What counter-balances the power of management to do whatever it pleases in search of greater and greater profit? Should we return to slave labor – that was profitable – or to the sixteen hour day, the seven-day work week, the locked door of the factory so workers can’t escape the factory fire? Just what are you proposing?

      • Cory

        Alan, yes to all of the above. All of the hard earned benefits you have mentioned above are a drag on America’s elites. If we can take some or all of them away, profits will be greater. They are just hoping that we don’t figure out we are 75-90% of the population and can compel them to do the right thing.

      • Ryan H

        Alan,

        I agree that employers should keep their employees safe. But why do you feel it is your RIGHT to decent wages? Are you scared of competition in the work place? If you don’t like the wage you earn, talk to your employer about it, if he doesn’t pay up, then leave to go work for another employer. Maybe you should place blame with yourself instead of trying to blame employers for your short falls. Think about it.

      • William

        Nobody has the right to demand anything from the taxpayer or employer. They never did. These so called rights could be called extortion. Times have changed and we just don’t need unions anymore and it is time to outlaw these groups.

  • Dee

    So many people I know are ready to join in this fight …Damn the
    GOP efforts to try and hijacket state contracts from outsouring ,
    etc.

    Tom, I hope you will have your guests on the show speak directly
    to this c0ncern directly as it is very much a part of the big fight..

    Dee

    • Ryan H

      Lol, GOP isn’t hijacking anything. If anything, unions are hijacking contracts. Forcing legislation to benefit the union. You liberals are all the same. You want to do less and be entitled for more.

      • Cory

        LOL, you seem like exactly the type of arrogant so and so that strengthens my resolve that unions are more needed than ever. If you were my employer, I’d surely want strength in numbers when trying to pry a few extra dollars from your grip so I could raise a family, have health insurance, or heaven forbid retire some day.

        • Ryan H

          And you would be the type of arrogant so and so that I would fire immediately and hire someone that is willing to work for what the job pays. Just remember, you are not entitled to anything. Think with your feet. If you don’t like your employer, go work somewhere else!

          • Cory

            How many times, in response to how many different posts, are you going to use the same tired answer. If it is all you’ve got, you’ve already said it a half dozen times and we’ve heard it. We aren’t entitled to anything. That’s why I argue that it must be TAKEN from you. How does that sound? Ever heard of the French Revolution? We arent going to be satisfied eating cake, Marie Antoinette.

          • Rjenness

            Ryan,
            We did this already. It was called the 19th century. Bosses loved it, but the rest of us had pretty miserable existences. Theoretically, we have moved on to a more humane treatment of our fellow citizens.

        • Rjenness

          This is an interesting discussion! Too bad I will be at my (severely underpaid eg <$20 K /year) union job and unable to listen to the live broadcast. But, to my actual point: All this hollering and union bashing seems to go on without the context of the recent tax breaks (agreed to by both parties) for the very wealthy. According to a statistic I heard recently, the top 1% of the US population owns more than the bottom 90%. This is the real problem and no one dares to bring it up. Addressing it may bring us a little closer to the root of our economic crisis: military spending, corporate power among other things.

          • William

            I don’t see much union bashing, but I do see a lot of taxpayer bashing.

          • Rjenness

            Do you read/watch the news? I recommend it. Then you would be up to date on the union bashing among other things. By the way, there’s lots of stuff going on in N Africa. Check it out!

      • Alan Shulman, NH

        “You liberals” is name-calling and stereo-typing, not argument. It is a bullying tactic, intended to dismiss a whole category of thought by using a label. Unfortunately, it is a strategy that has gained a lot of ground in political discourse these days, as if stating the word “liberal” by itself lent any credence to one’s point of view. I suggest you deal with facts and avoid labels.

        • Ryan H

          Are you liberal? If you are, what is the problem with calling you a liberal? Would you rather me refer to “you liberals” as, “Members of the Liberal Party and/or Liberal in nature”? Give me a break.

          I’d refer to anygroup this way. For example, “You girls” are all beautiful and talk a lot. This isn’t name calling or bullying tactics?

          Sounds like english to me!

          • geffe

            Sounds like you like to provoke too me.

  • Bob from Burlington

    The uprising in Wisconsin is more than just a union battle. I believe it’s the start of the American working middle class reaching its breaking point. Countless years of stagnant wages, fear of having no medical coverage, fear of no job, poverty, and training people from another country to do your job for 1/5th the cost to the comoany and then getting laid off. Personally, I’m getting the awful feeling our lives are controlled by big-money/big-corporations. I hope to God Wisconsin is the beginning.

    • Ryan H

      You are in a global market now. More competition means you have to stand above the crowd. You shouldn’t feel so entitled. No body owes you anything! Unions have created a bad name, they’re out dated, and got to go!

      • Cory

        Nobody owes you anything? I think you’ve lost the whole point of human society and civilization.

        • Ryan H

          Please explain what you mean…

          What is the whole point of human society and civilization?

          • Anonymous

            You’re not going to like this, Ryan. It includes putting others’ needs before your own. Shudder!

          • Cory

            Grouping together for mutual benefit and to take advantage of specialization. It means not every individual has to be a cop, soldier, farmer, carpenter, etc all in one. Y’know, the stuff we are taught about civilization in 6th grade social studies.

            My tax dollars contributing to your police and fire protection, lighting and paving your streets, supporting a military that represents your interests.

            None of us are an island. Your entitlement rhetoric seems to lose the point of our interdependence. If you make a large enough portion of the population destitute with your labor policies, it will come back to affect you in the form of economic instability and ugly side effects like crime.

      • Alan Shulman, NH

        The basic problem is that when we went global, we forgot that the rest of the world, a good deal of it anyway, certainly the part that corporations want to harness to their ends, lives in squalor, desperate for work. So the corporations were able, by moving industries off shore, to negate one hundred and seventy five years of struggle and progress in this country for decent wages and decent working conditions, and we as a people didn’t insist that the goods they made in these faraway parts of the world had to be made by persons receiving a decent wage working a decent number of hours in a decent environment. And you think this is okay?

        So it’s not that unions are outmoded and have to go; it’s that unions need to be organized all over the world to demand workers’ rights just as was done here and in western Europe.

        Note: It will be seventeen days until the one-hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire. Look it up if you want to get a glimpse of life without unions.

        • Ryan H

          If I were a business owner, I would always be looking for ways to lower cost but maintain the value of my product. If I can hire cheaper labor wherever it may be without devaluing my product then that’s what I will do. My job as a business owner is to grow my business. There is nothing wrong with that!

          Yes, I believe it is ok to lock workers into a burning building. Are you crazy? Everyone should be safe at work, but unions are not needed to do this function.

          • Alan Shulman, NH

            Sorry Ryan but most of the history of the United States and other industrial nations as well shows that bosses are unable and/or unwilling in general to provide for the welfare and safety of their workers just because they ARE focused exclusively on growing their businesses instead of taking a somewhat broader ethical view which is that running a business requires fair treatment of workers in all arenas. And many business schools are now teaching this broader perspective to their students. The sweatshop, the textile mill with the six day week and the fifteen hour day are all evidence of how much management is willing to do on its own without the pressure of unions to hold it accountable. I know no history that shows otherwise.

      • Craig from Omaha

        Yes we are in a global market, so please look at how successful Germany is — imagine a country in which government, management and unions (yes, major firms like VW, BMW, Daimler-Benz and MAN unionized) work together to achieve a common, prosperous good. And there are public sector unions as well, which admittedly occasionally are too pushy (locomotive engineers now). But the country has a trade surplus yo which a healthy manufacturing economy contributes considerably. German unemployment is now the lowest it has been in 20 years and the majority of its people are healthier and more prosperous than we Americans. No State in the union is more like Germany than Wisconsin in terms of its population and economic base; but that Libertarian Walker (son of a Babtist preacher-man from Colorado Springs) is doing his best to ruin this State’s local government and fine education system. The recall cannot begin until November, and he will have inflicted a lot of damage on the Badger State by then. I have earned two graduate from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and I fear for the damage that Walker and his minions will inflict on the State universities.

        • Ryan H

          I don’t have so much of a problem with private unions. That’s up to the company itself to unionize or not.

          Public unions I have issues with.

          • Robort

            That’s only b/c private unions are virtually dead.

  • Yar

    On this fat Tuesday, I contend we are seeing an attack on separation of church and state, really a shift of social programs from state to church. In my community we have several new religious schools. I would like to know the growth students attending private schools over the past decade.
    The Republican agenda is to defund state and federal programs. Their push is to have the church preform social programs that have historically been tax supported. It is to make support of these programs voluntarily.
    The haves are stirring up the have-not’s against each other. Teachers and laborers are closer in ideology than most citizens share with the ruling elite. Our democracy is under attack, and it comes under the guise of freedom from taxation, when really it is attempting to shift the burdens of the State off on the Church.
    As you ponder the start of Lent, I suggest giving up dogma, inerrancy, pride, self-righteousness, partisanship, hate, pre-judgment, and any other stumbling block that keeps you from seeing your neighbor as a valuable member of community.
    Tom, ask your guests how religion is being injected into this fight. From vouchers, to leaner and meaner governments, the unstated message is that compassion is an individual liberty not a community responsibility. I disagree with that divide and conquer logic. Compassion is both an individual and community responsibility.

    • Ryan H

      Speak for yourself.

      • Yar

        I thought that is just what I did. This is how I see it, if you disagree, please explain.

      • Cory

        Am I “entitled” to speak for myself, or should I ask my employer?

    • Cory

      Sorry Yar, among the things you are not “Entitled” to in Ryan’s world is a rational argument. Apparently if you don’t like that, you have to go somewhere else.

      • Beverly

        That’s right. The worst part is that Ryan & the few that aren’t in favor of unions don’t know the facts, yet they argue against fair treatment for workers.

        • Ryan H

          Beverly,

          Please teach me the facts that I do not know? Seriously, please post facts that I am missing. Look at all my posts on this discussion and tell me factually where I am wrong.

          • Yar

            Ryan, I think you see in black and white.
            It seems to me that you dehumanize workers, are they are only production units to you? No need to pay pensions or care about life after work, just find the cheapest production unit today. If another production unit is cheaper tomorrow, then ignore contracts, go for profit. That may work of private businesses on a global scale, but it causes a lot of pain and gnashing of teeth on the local level.

            What I read in your comments is a victim of the very exploitation you seem to espouse. I see a middle manager who is fearful that technology and some college educated young minority will come take your job. I see fear in your dogma. I actually think you have a lot in common with issues unions are fighting for.
            I may be completely wrong, but I know you are human and have fears and needs just like any other worker.
            Thanks for taking time to comment.

          • Ryan H

            No fear here. Nor am I a manager. I am a 30 yr. old computer programmer. I worked 4.5 years with a company and they cut my pay considerably. So what did I do? I didn’t hit the streets in protest whinning he cut my pay. I found another job, better pay and better benefits. I choose to think with my feet and move on. Not crying that I’m a victim. I appreciate your kindness.

          • LinP

            Ryan, please keep posting, and all others please keep responding. This young, inexperienced man who lives in the bubble of a first world society is bringing out the best in all of the counter arguments posted here.

            In addition, his POV is masterful in how he inadvertently makes the argument for EXACTLY WHY we need unions, and what is at stake in our society. It’s a beautiful thing really, to see someone cluelessly arguing one point only to completely sanction another. This is priceless.

          • Rjenness

            You are lucky you are 30. I hope the same thing happens to you when you are 50 and you are stuck looking for work in a depression. Everyone, don’t you see that Ryan is a victim of the GOP/corporate conspiracy to divide and conquer. They spew fear, misinformation and partial truths in order to scare those of us who do not want to think for themselves. Unfortunately, it works.

      • Ryan H

        Employers pay what the market pay. If you are not fine with what the market pays you, maybe you are in the wrong profession.

        • geffe

          Oh for Pete’s sake, you are clueless.

          • Ryan H

            Geffe,

            Do you plan to make an argument or just say nothing? What am I clueless about? Tell me something factual on how public unions benefit a state?

          • geffe

            I already posted enough information. Take it or leave it pal.
            How do people like you benefit society?

          • Ryan H

            I work for a living. Standing above whinners like you that claim they are worth more than they really are. It’s called competition and free markets son. You have to be the best at what you do. There are winners and losers in this world. Not all of us can be winners. At least I know where you stand.

    • steve

      Yar,

      I believe the problem is that both the left and the right have done all the can to undermine voluntary associations -re de Toqueville- for their own purposes.

      As a result the idea of community is being undermined in favor of the right’s twisted version of liberty and freedom and the left’s expanded role of the government which is controlled by corporate interests.

  • Ryan H

    Unions are out dated in today’s global economy. They force a monopoly, hinder competition, drive up costs and threaten the stability of whichever business or government entity they exploit.

    Why is it such a horrible thing to ask employees to actually contribute to your OWN retirement and pay a portion of your OWN medical coverage? Everyone else does it! Why do people/unions feel so entitled? I say fire the awol teachers and hire people who want to be there. There are plenty of people looking for work.

    • Cory

      “If you knew your history, then you would know where you’re coming from.” – Bob Marley

      Just answer this question Ryan. What will the world look like without the presence of organized labor, and do you have confidence that management and ownership will treat labor well out of some sort of benevolent kindness?

      • Ryan H

        If you feel managment and ownership is treating you poorly go work somewhere else. Quite with the since of entitlement!

        • Cory

          Are you afraid to answer my question, or must I accept the “Nana na booboo/ take my ball and go home” arguments?

          • Ryan H

            Why do you feel you are being screwed by a business owner? You are getting paid right? If it’s not enough pay, do something to improve yourself or go somewhere else to get paid.

            To answer your question I defer you to a portion of my original post:

            Unions are out dated in today’s global economy. They force a monopoly, hinder competition, drive up costs and threaten the stability of whichever business or government entity they exploit.

          • Cory

            Still not answering my question. Hallmark of a true conservative.

          • Ryan H

            It’s answered. This is what the world looks like with unions.

            Unions are out dated in today’s global economy. They force a monopoly, hinder competition, drive up costs and threaten the stability of whichever business or government entity they exploit.

            So think for a minute. The world without unions would be the opposite of my comment.

            No monopoly influences, competition would increase, costs would decrease, thus business’s would be able to grow more.

            Maybe I should have been more clear.

        • Anonymous

          learn to spell please

    • Yar

      Labor Unions provide workers protection from the organized management of business owners. Free market is not free when only one side is organized. Labor earns their entire compensation package, employer provided benefits are earned by the labor of workers even when the benefit is not deducted from the wage slip. Employees are paying for their own retirement and their own medical coverage, it is part of the package negotiated in good faith. Why do you dislike organized labor, do they have benefits and wages that you feel you deserve? Instead of rejecting them why not join.
      Or are you are on the other side of the paycheck? A business owner, if so do you belong to the Chamber of Commerce? I see it as a union of business owners. They organize to fight for one group. Would you say they need to go as well?

      • Ryan H

        In my earlier post that you replied to I explained why I dislike unions. People in unions have to remember, they are not entitled to a job. They are not entitled to a benefit package.

        If you dislike your employer, think with your feet, go work somewhere else.

        • Cory

          “Love it or leave it” has never been valid as a tool of debate.

        • Yar

          Except, health coverage will cost twice as much and only if they don’t have any conditions that prevent them from getting it at all. Slaves had the right to leave, if they didn’t mind the beating when they were caught. Ryan, do you even know the level of exploitation that goes on in our society today? You may be a good business owner, but your attitude makes me think you are not very kind to your employees. Your wealth is based on their labor, I hope you honor and respect how their effort brings you wealth. I pray you lose your bitterness.

          • Cory

            “Honor and respect.” Not bloody likely.

          • Craig from Omaha

            Back to Germany – business owners there plow a higher proportion of their profits back into their companies, workers have input into how the businesses or factories can be run better (BMW recently asked its union workers for ideas on improving their production lines, and is implimenting the suggestions). And health care in Germany is almost universal for those legally in the country, and costs a lot less than here because the health insurance companies are government-regulated non-profit corporations (Krankenkassen). Furthermore, the metro areas have excellent mass transit systems, and are linked by electric-powered, high-speed passenger trains. All of this costs money, and yes — taxes are higher. But the Germans are getting what they have paid for — and their country is more ready for the challenges of the 21st century. Our conservatives want to relive the past, but the past is OVER!

          • geffe

            And the Germans have rode out this rescission better than we did and now have an export of 7% of GDP. All with strong unions and a good national health system.
            Go figure.

      • Cory

        YES!!! They are organized, why can’t labor organize!

        • Dave in CT

          Or at least enforce laws that prevent over-organized capital. That was what Hayek warned about, not just central-planning government power, but organized capital as well. And alot of the liberty stuff is geared toward achieving that, to prevent the tyranny of either.

          Big government or victims of organized capital is a false choice. The Rule of Law, enforced, with the individual at the core, is an attempt to avoid both. Both over-organized labor and over-organized capital cause their own types of stasis and corruption, and end up hurting the little guy individual.

          Many well-connected elites feeding off the gamed system, be it Wall St. or Govt. Employees, of course could care less about the honest, work-to-create-value, little guy individual.

    • Margbi

      The workers in this case have already agreed to the fiscal arrangements. The only thing holding up agreement is the Gov.’s insistence on denying them rights. And, where do you think you would find teachers, trained, experienced, and good at their work if you fire the present ones? It takes a lot of education and a long time to reach their level. Please be rational.

      • Ryan H

        Rights? What do you mean rights? Are you saying you have a “right” to your pension (fully paid for by tax payers) and your medical coverage (fully paid for by tax payers)? I can’t believe the since of entitlement liberals have.

        There are plenty of states in America that are right to work states and do just fine without the leaches of a public union. Nobody should be FORCED to pay union dues. If you want to voluntarily join, go ahead, but remember you are negotiating. You are not entitled! That’s all I ask.

        • Anonymous

          Troll Alert!

        • Cory

          And those right to work states rank at the bottom in education, but near the top in obesity, heart attack, and cousin-kissin’.

          • geffe

            On wonders why this is. They also rank in top 10% of states with budget woes.

          • Ryan H

            Cory and Geffe,

            Do you have any data to support your arguements?

            This shows state deficits:
            http://www.mybudget360.com/fiscal-situation-of-50-states-combined-budget-gaps-estimated-at-350-billon-for-2010-and-2011/

            This shows right to work states:
            http://www.nrtw.org/rtws.htm

            I don’t see your point.

          • geffe

            Someone posted a comment asking me to prove my stats.
            It was removed for some reason. Well if folks in this mind set took the time to read the McClatchy article I posted they would find all the links at the bottom to support these claims. In the sample I have on my comment it even list the The Center for Retirement Research as a source.
            If people do not want to believe these sources that’s not my problem.
            The sources are there.

          • geffe

            Sorry I meant to edit this before posting it again.

            Take the time to read the McClatchy article I posted they would find all the links at the bottom to support these claims. In the sample I have on my comment it even list the The Center for Retirement Research as a source.
            If you do not want to believe these sources that’s not my problem.
            The sources are there.
            What you posted as a source was so partisan it’s a joke.

          • Ryan H

            Can you tell me why you think it is partisan? The links I posted are showing a simple facts of state deficits and which states are right to work or union states. What’s partisan about them?

          • Cory

            I only have data to back up the part about cousin kissin’.

        • Craig from Omaha

          Ryan, there is a big world out there. You need to see beyond the confines of your own backyard!

    • Anonymous

      The teachers in WI has already agreed to the financial concessions, but Walker wants them to be at his mercy. Why should they give up the right to collectively bargain? It is what allows them to bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

      Public sector scene:
      Worker: Boss, I have taken on more work and done a good job for the company and would like to request a raise.
      Boss: NO way, no how, in fact because you asked, I will lower your wages, take away your benefits, and will look for any reason to fire you because you have questioned my abilities as your boss. You are lucky to have had a job. Go look for work with the other 40 million Americans who are SOL.

      • Ryan H

        Boss man seems to have it right, crm65

  • J. Mezure Carter

    Tom, I hope you ask your guest about union pensions and how they were destroyed by the banking debacle and the sub-prime Ponzi scheme. In particular ask them to comment on how state pensions were regarded as ATMs for Wall Street thieves. Also ask them how public workers lost most of their retirement money, especially decimation of their 401K funds. Also ask them if state pension funds were invested in companies that outsourced American jobs.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      The rapid rise of oil prices are not because of supply and demand but because of speculation. I heard a report this AM that the largest contributor to this speculation are pension funds and hedge funds.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      The rapid rise of oil prices are not because of supply and demand but because of speculation. I heard a report this AM that the largest contributor to this speculation are pension funds and hedge funds.

  • Cory

    I think we are at the beginning of the tipping point. I read the postings of those who say that labor no longer requires the protection of collectivization and I cringe. I hear ignorant Americans who have been convinced that instead of unionizing themselves to improve their lot, they must destroy the unions remaining and drag those workers down to their level. I see fewer and fewer decent jobs and fewer people without any hope of ever retiring. I hear conservative voices on the radio saying that workplace safety regulations and environmental protections make us less competitive in a global market and must be dismantled. I hear conservatives telling teachers they must accept less because we are “broke”, but then they itch at the trigger to get involved in another far-flung military adventure on the other side of the world.

    Well, I for one have lost hope in convincing THEM of their folly. I believe we have reached the point where civil disorder and disobedience must become the common tactic for dealing with our wealthy overlords. They don’t want to give us a decent existence in exchange for a life of hard work? Very simply we must take it from them. The continuum of defiance begins non violently, like the heroes in Madison, Wisconsin. It moves to destruction of property, and in the endgame can reach the point of violence. I hope it never gets there.

    People who work deserve a decent life. This means food, shelter, medicine, and the ability to raise a family in a decent atmosphere. It also means good public education. We must demand these things, and take them if we must. The lemon of wealth must be squeezed until the pip squeaks.

    • Ryan H

      This “ignorant American” believes he can out work most and make smart decisions, which in turn will bring me greater wealth and make me a “wealthy overlord”. I guess I’m “ignorant” because I don’t feel entitled to someone else’s wealth.

      • Cory

        I’ll enjoy hearing your pip squeak most of all, Reagan Jr. I wouldn’t waste my time trying to convince you that the world is round.

        • Ryan H

          The world is round?

  • Anonymous

    Ryan H seems unaware how unionized our worldwide competition is & how efficient they are. Germany & Scandinavia are all highly organized and have been found to have more upward mobility than the US. Even France is more efficient per worker hour than the US.

    Unions aren’t outdated. Reaganomics cribbed from the Soviet-style Command Economy model are.

    Since companies are killing off their consumer demand by not hiring, unions & infrastructure projects on a massive scale are needed to modernize us to the level that already exists in the EU, Scandinavia & (for web speed) Finland & Estonia.

    Even Forbes & The Economist acknowledge in the various surveys how far behind we have become in the last 30+ years of Reagan Sovietism.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      China?

  • Anonymous

    Ryan H seems unaware how unionized our worldwide competition is & how efficient they are. Germany & Scandinavia are all highly organized and have been found to have more upward mobility than the US. Even France is more efficient per worker hour than the US.

    Unions aren’t outdated. Reaganomics cribbed from the Soviet-style Command Economy model are.

    Since companies are killing off their consumer demand by not hiring, unions & infrastructure projects on a massive scale are needed to modernize us to the level that already exists in the EU, Scandinavia & (for web speed) Finland & Estonia.

    Even Forbes & The Economist acknowledge in the various surveys how far behind we have become in the last 30+ years of Reagan Sovietism.

  • Michael

    I would prefer Unions get some type of curve(esp Police and Fire) but what’s going on in Wisconsin seems to be too much. I also like Corporate influences to be curved as well. There’s amble amount of data of the abuses of both sides. And some Unions paying folks to protest doesn’t make things better.

    But the conversation should not be a race to the bottom as many compaies are currently doing for short profits instead of long term thinking but keeping the middle class solid and offering ways for the poor to rise up to the middle class and the public and politicians publicly shaming companies like Apple who used slave labor and sweat shops to save some money.

    If any were unaware, a company in apple had to place nets outside the windows cause people were jumping out them to there deaths .

    • Ryan H

      Michael,

      I totally agree with this statement:

      “There’s amble amount of data of the abuses of both sides. And some Unions paying folks to protest doesn’t make things better.”

      • ThresherK

        Paying folks to protest? Are you one of those Koch-heads?

        • Robort

          How much was Joe the Plumber paid to drive in the Koch bus?

          • ThresherK

            He drove it? Geez, from unlicensed plumber to unlicensed bus driver–that’s a man with ambition.

            Seriously, though, I don’t know. Enough to quit his day job, whatever that is.

  • Mark from Acton

    “Republicans in Wisconsin and other states have drastically shifted the rules of the game, exploiting the fiscal crises for partisan political ends. In so doing, they are fulfilling a long-standing GOP strategy to destroy institutions that allegedly sustain the American left.

    The GOP first elaborated this strategy in a 1999 memo on priorities for the new millennium that I discovered in the papers of former Republican Rep. Dick Armey of Texas. A copy of part of the memo can be found in the photo essay in my book, “White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement.”

    The memo called for weakening Democrats and liberals by continuing the “K Street Project,” begun in 1995, and named after the capital’s strip mall for lobbyists. Republicans would use their control of Congress to pressure firms “to hire more Republicans.” The “Republican leader refuses to meet with Dems” and would “make Fortune 500 firms aware of whom they are hiring to represent them in Washington.”

    Ultimately, GOP leaders hoped to construct a shadow political machine of lawyers, lobbyists and public relations specialists with access to hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign cash and the power to shape policy debates, influence legislation and guide public opinion.

    The memo outlined additional strategies for “defunding the left” by eliminating “sources of hard currency for the Democratic Party” following President Ronald Reagan’s “model for cutting off the flow of hard currency to the Soviet Union.” To weaken the unions, Republicans would promote free trade and repeal the Davis Bacon Act, which required prevailing wages on federally funded or assisted projects. The party would strive to restrict the use of compulsory union dues for political purposes. It would push for liability limitations on lawsuits to stanch the flow of funds to liberal groups and political candidates from trial lawyers.

    The GOP would weaken the National Education Association and teachers’ unions by promoting “school choice.” It would work to abolish the Legal Services Corp. and the Public Broadcasting Service and kill incentives for tax-deductible donations to “liberal foundations” by repealing estate taxes.

    In Wisconsin, the Republicans are continuing the anti-union component of the memo’s strategy.”

    http://www.gazette.net/stories/02252011/policol190353_32540.php

    • Craig from Omaha

      Moreover, some GOP conservatives in New Hampshire and Wisconsin want to restrict voting rights for college students in their States “because the vote the wrong way.”

    • Chris from Vermont

      Thanks for this explanation. Anybody wanting to know the Republicans’ game plan could also read Thomas Franks’ book, “The Wrecking Crew,” where he lays out their strategy for removing all supports, financial and otherwise, from Democrats.

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Cory,
    Don’t you see the problem with PUBLIC employees collective bargaining. Even liberal icons, Jimmy Carter, FDR and George Meany knew the folly of public union collective bargaining.

    Private unions are a different animal. Go for it.

    • Ryan H

      Agreed, private unions ≠ public unions.

    • Cory

      Worried, this is a straw man. Who do teacher’s unions (for example) bargain with? They bargain with ELECTED school boards. In theory, conservative communities will elect conservative school boards who will bargain agressively with unions.

      If you take away collective bargaining from teachers in Wisconsin (where I live, BTW) to insure they pay 5% toward retirement and 12% toward health insurance, what can happen is they can arbitrarily increase the percentage on the next contract to 10, 15, or 50%. Down the road they can simply eliminate these benefits altogether if their is no collective bargaining allowed.

      Workers for the state are still workers, and should be allowed to unionize to protect their interests if they choose.

      By the way, thank you for engaging in this discussion with me. I appreciate your thoughtful perspective.

      • Ryan H

        My wife is a teacher in GA. GA is a right to work state. She currently pays 5% of her pay to her pension, 10% of her pay is paid by the state and I think she pays for roughly 25% of her health insurance (but I’m not totally sure about the healthcare part).

        Now to my point. She could voluntarily join the union, but chooses not to. I believe nobody should be forced to join a union in which union dues are given to politicians to allocate tax payer money to benefit public unions.

        Another thing about unions. Why is it that teachers that have seniority but have poor teaching abilities get paid more than younger teachers that win awards in teaching?

        • geffe

          Loaded comments and questions. Why do I get the feeling that you already have an answer.

          I do agree it should be easier to fire under performing teachers of no matter how long they have been on the job. Of course the union does offer up a process that protects teachers from unwarranted an unfair dismissal. The other thing about your comment on unions is they reflect more of an anti union ideology than any real knowledge of how they work. Maybe your wife will change her tune when she has no control over the size of students in her classes and when they keep raising her percentage of health care costs and the amount she has to pay into her pension. It’s called collective bargaining. Meaning that people sit down and bargain for a common good.

      • Robort

        so really the bigger issue is getting $$$ out of politics. Why isn’t the conversation from the right focused on THAT?

    • Isaac (Groton, CT)

      FDR didn’t oppose collective bargaining for public unions – he stated that it can’t exist in the same way as it does for private unions, and, were he alive today, he’d point to Wisconsin as the perfect example.

      Collective bargaining is made much more complicated when the party you’re bargaining with has the ability to leave the bargaining table, and then move it while you’re still seated. Public unions have to contend with not just the particular portion of the government with whom they’re negotiating, but also with the legislature that can change the rules on the fly, with whom they’re not negotiating.

      Collective bargaining is perfectly compatible with public sector unions, but it is harder for public sector unions to trust the process. That’s not an argument to abandon the process; it’s an argument to always remember that the process of public union negotiations must always be twofold.

  • Mbheitz

    My sister in Wisconsin says that the Capitol police are now saying “Thank you for coming” when the protesters enter the building in the morning. And the protesters chant “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” to the police when they leave at night. The governor’s plan to drive a wedge between the police and firefighters and the rest of the citizen-public workers, which was ominous just on the face of it, is not working…thank god.

  • William Powe

    Everyone knows the only jobs that have security are now in the
    public sector, once upon a time that was the safe boring route
    to a middle class life. Most with ambition wanted to be in the private
    sector where the rewards were greater and it was much more exciting.
    Now that the economic life has changed in the world most decent jobs
    are going overseas to much cheaper labor costs, so now the public
    sector jobs are the only jobs left that have decent benefits. Naked
    capitalism is hollowing out America and in the end almost nothing will
    be left except debt and massive unemployment which will lead to an
    unstable political environment and populism from the left and right.
    I would not be surprised if this did not end in some kind of wrenching
    civil unrest or even break up of the United States itself. Public sector
    jobs with great benefits and security are living in a alternative dream
    world that will crash down along with the rest of the American dream.

    • Dan

      Oh, I don’t know, “brain surgeon” still seems like a pretty secure job title…

      -dan
      Boston, MA

      • Robort

        brain surgeon is hardly middle class

  • geffe

    Before people make comments against unions and public employees in particular some facts should be put on the table.

    I clipped this from an article from the McClatchy news orginization:

    Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

    Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/06/109649/why-employee-pensions-arent-bankrupting.html?storylink=MI_emailed#ixzz1G1A7ikz2

    • Rob (in NY)

      Geffe, I hesitate to make generic statements about the causes for all woes in state and local government finances because these causes may be very different from state to state or locality to locality. I can not speak for other states, but here in NYS and NYC public sector union contracts are blowing up state and local government budgets to point where Andrew Cuomo’s speeches sound more like Ronald Reagan than his father’s speeches.. For example, over 15% of NYC’s budget last year was spent on post retirement benefits for the city’s public work force.

      The right for WI state workers to bargain collectively over benefits is not a federal constitutional right. Rather, it is legislative right that was granted by WI state law. I believe the voters and legislators of WI should sort this out. I honestly do not know enough about WI’s specific budget picture to have a fully informed opinion on all of issues (and most of the people not from WI probably are in a similar situation).

      • geffe

        I agree some states are worse than others and the article I listed does address this. It’s very well written. Some of the issues that New York is facing is made by the state and not the Unions.
        The retirement issues have been pushed down to road by the legislators for years. In WI they have funds to pay for retirement of state workers for years to come. The idea that they don’t is a fabrication. The other thing that Walker leaves out that the state employees have been paying their own freight towards their pensions and the state does not pay anything. It’s payed for by the very people who are in the unions. The problems arise because of a short fall in how these are paid out in the future and the budget.
        It’s pretty complicated.

  • Lester

    The Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center released two reports yesterday outlining the facts regarding public employee salaries and pensions. Since Massachusetts public employees are not part of Social Security and the pension system is largely funded by employees themselves, the Commonwealth actually saves money on it. Salaries are a mixed story. Pubilc employees with college degrees earn less than there counterparts in the private sector, while those without generally earn a bit more.

    http://www.massbudget.org/documentsearch/findDocument?doc_id=777

  • Anonymous

    I have mixed views on this. I support unions in theory and am grateful for the gains they made last century for all workers, but they appear to focus on just getting gains for their members instead of making sure all workers have fair wages and rights. For example, instead of working for universal health care, they make sure their health plans are exempt from taxes on Cadillac plans. It is unfair for private sector workers to pay for benefits and protections that they lack in their own jobs. On the other hand, corporations are using this resentment to try to destroy unions.

    When I’ve been a worker in a job with a union, I found that every time management tried to make any improvements the union decided it was an opportunity to demand a concession. When not treated as individuals, most workers fulfill no more than the lowest possible expectations. I did. And the union vigorously defends the worst employees who should be fired.

    • Joe Hill

      Unions are right to defend their strong health care plans. Non-union workers are now jealous that corporations have eaten away at benefits like health care and pensions. Union workers feel sorry for them but wonder why they didn’t support unions, form a union, or join one when they had the opportunity to protect their own benefits and benefit packages. In the private sector, the jobs have left the country, the pension plans are gone, the health care plans are nonexistent or are lousy (throw your kids off when they develop pre-existing conditions) or vanish when you get laid off from a job. Unions try to protect their members–that’s what unions are for.

  • Michiganjf

    The history of our nation’s demise correlates perfectly with the Republican’s rise to power.

    Keep them in power and watch as our country swirls ever further down the drain.

    The only important thing to conservatives is that “their side wins” any ideological battle, to the exclusion of their own self interest or that of our country.

  • geffe

    Someone posted a comment asking me to prove my stats.
    It was removed for some reason. Well if folks in this mind set took the time to read the McClatchy article I posted they would find all the links at the bottom to support these claims. In the sample I have on my comment it even list the The Center for Retirement Research as a source.
    If people do not want to believe these sources that’s not my problem.
    The sources are there.

  • Bruce Guindon

    The Union Movement has struggled for years to keep its head above water and the reason is pure and simple, the general population was and is ignorant of the place Unions hold in the every day hour to hour rights that workers take for granted. Now that it is clear what the right wing Republican Fascist and ultra rich have in mind for the working class, they the worker, the teacher the public servant and working people everywhere are starting to unite. This of course is only the infancy of a greater awaking the one where people realize that the people they elect come with consequences and that they must look behind the Candidate and see who is pulling the strings. I suggest that people look at their own circumstance and ask if the place they work could be better or improved with the help of unity of thought and a say in the conditions you must spent a third of your life in. Look for the Union Label

  • Joe Hill

    Republicans want to break up unions because unions have generally supported the Democrats during elections. They fail to say that corporations generally support the Republican Party during elections. We need the unions as a way to push back the corporate power structures that are destroying the middle class in this country. There is no other way the “little guy” stands a chance.

    • Robort

      And let’s loook at the bigger question still: why are ANY giant $$$ interests allowed to pump $$$ into elections? Unions are needed as counterbalance, I agree, but the system itself that says “Money = Speech” has nearly destroyed democracy.

    • Cory

      Yup. Walker is engaged in naked aggression against his political opponents and other non-supporters.

  • Rob

    Economic anger from “regular people” used to be aimed at the robber barons, the railroads, the “combines,” the monopolies, the banks and the large corporations. Now the loudest voices of economic anger are directed against middle class government workers and unionized workers in general. With the richest getting richer at a phenomenal pace and the gap between rich and poor growing at a historically extraordinary rate, how is it that this change has occurred?

    • Robort

      It’s incredible.

    • Heidi Nepveu

      It’s a concerted effort to take people’s attention off the real reasons for our economic troubles (feds in bed w/ banks, low to no corp and millionaire taxes, and corruption in gov’t via lobbyists) and blame it on the working class and the public sector.

      • Robort

        Kochs et al have LOTS to gain from the middle class scrabbling over the same small pile of scraps.

  • Newt

    Two questions I hope you will deal with.

    1. What long-term leverage does the pro-union side have over Gov. Walker & Republicans if they continue to sit out?

    2. No one has answered this. How do government workers in non-collective bargaining states do compared with those in collective bargaining states. Are they poorly paid? have no job or retirement security? Do they feel abused and oppressed? I wish someone would make discuss this.

    • Robort

      One could look at the relative job security and retirement benefits (etc) of PRIVATE non-unionized employees at similar age levels.

      Truth is most workers have seen their benefits squeezed. Who still expects a “pension”? No one. Is that good for the middle class? Not so much. (see market crash and 401Ks)

      We should not ask: “Why do Union workers have it SO GOOD?” We should ask: “Why does almost everybody else have it SO BAD–and accepts it?”

      • Laurie

        ‘We should not ask: “Why do Union workers have it SO GOOD?” We should ask: “Why does almost everybody else have it SO BAD–and accepts it?”‘

        YES. THIS.

  • Dan

    Here’s what I didn’t understand about the auto industry bailout and what I don’t understand about Wisconsin: the unions appeared to be the only stakeholder that sacrificed short-term gains for long-term goals. In both the auto industry and among public service unions in Wisconsin, the unions consistently chose long-term benefits such as medical coverage and pensions for their members in lieu of pay raises.

    That’s prudent planning, and it’s something that taxpayers, elected officials, and auto company managers didn’t do. And yet, despite the fact that the unions were the only ones looking out for their constituents’ long-term best interests, the unions get hammered as being “part of the problem.”

    Can someone explain this to me?

    -dan
    Boston, MA

  • TerryTreeTree

    Hello Tom and Guests, IT’S A LIE!!!! All this crap is to take attention off the promise that Republicans promised ten years ago to provide JOBS for the TAX CUTS for the RICH!!! WHERE ARE THE JOBS????
    Terry in Brewstertown, Tenn.

  • Beverly

    When unions are strong, America is strong. Anyone who doesn’t believe it only has to read an American history book. If that’s too much trouble, you shouldn’t comment on things you no nothing about.

    • Cory

      Beverly, I’d like to buy you a lager of your liking.

      • Beverly

        Cory,

        Thank you. I’d like to accept. Any good Wisconsin beer would be fine.

        • ThresherK

          Push for some cheddarwursts while you’re at it.

          • Beverly

            Yes, with lots of mustard. Yum!

  • Clark Friedman

    Tom, Could you please have your guest address the lifetime cost the pension benefit (ie the total annuity cost). With our long life expectancy cannot many employees look forward to $500k – 1million payout if they have a Defined Benefit plan instead of a Defined Contribution plan?

  • Bill

    if it werent for unions in gov’t, where people are considerate of what they are doing to secure rightful pay and benefit negotiations, the private sector wouldnt have the kinds of benefits they have now. furthermore opening comments would imply that the decision to cut lies only with the politico est. when in fact usual people, all of whom are paying taxes, are already demonstrating a willingness to gather, protest and put up with the thickheadedness of the ruling class of public employees.

  • Mark from Acton

    The attack on public employees is a political power play, designed to starve the Democratic party of a major source of campaign contributions and volunteers.

    And it’s based on a lie:

    House Speaker John Boehner routinely offers this diagnosis of the U.S.’s fiscal condition: “We’re broke; Broke going on bankrupt,” he said in a Feb. 28 speech in Nashville.

    Boehner’s assessment dominates a debate over the federal budget that could lead to a government shutdown. It is a widely shared view with just one flaw: It’s wrong.

    “The U.S. government is not broke,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York. “There’s no evidence that the market is treating the U.S. government like it’s broke.”

    The U.S. today is able to borrow at historically low interest rates, paying 0.68 percent on a two-year note that it had to offer at 5.1 percent before the financial crisis began in 2007. Financial products that pay off if Uncle Sam defaults aren’t attracting unusual investor demand. And tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low, meaning if the government needs to raise cash and can summon the political will, it could do so.

    Measured against the size of the economy, U.S. federal tax revenue is at its lowest level since 1950. Tax receipts in the 2011 fiscal year are expected to equal 14.4 percent of GDP, according to the White House. That compares with the 40-year average of 18 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. So if tax receipts return to their long-term average amid an economic recovery, about one-third of the annual budget deficit would disappear.

    Americans also aren’t overtaxed compared with residents of other advanced nations. In a 28-nation survey, only Chile and Mexico reported a lower total tax burden than the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation.

    In 2009, taxes of all kinds claimed 24 percent of U.S. GDP, compared with 34.3 percent in the U.K., 37 percent in Germany and 48.2 percent in Denmark, the most heavily taxed OECD member.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-07/bonds-show-why-boehner-saying-we-re-broke-is-figure-of-speech.html

    • TomK in Boston

      Right Mark, it’s a lie, it’s class warfare at its worst. It’s easy to be “broke”, if you refuse to collect taxes. Creating a deficit with tax cuts, which benefit the wealthy and the corporations, and fixing it by squeezing the middle class, is direct redistribution of $ from middle and bottom to top.

      The decline of unions is a big part of the decline of the middle class. It’s too bad that well-paid nonunion workers in the 70s and 80s didn’t appreciate that their wages and benefits had risen through the efforts of unions. When union workers are the only ones who are not sinking while the elite grab all the $, it seems to me that the logical conclusion is that we need MORE unionizing. However, the corporate media machine is telling us that the conclusion is that they have way too much. It’s typical class warfare, pitting the struggling against the less struggling, and it’s sad that such propaganda can succeed.

      Jon Stewart had a hilarious clip showing the fox pundits going on at great length about how $250,000 was not “rich”, was actually close to poverty, when extension of the Bush/Obama tax cuts was being discussed, and also showing them going on about the extreme wealth of those privileged, overpaid teachers.

      In the 30s average Americans fought back against the greedy elites. We are in the same position now and a lot of the victims are supporting the aggressors, and our “liberal” president seems to be just another corporatist. Wake up America!

  • Charlie

    What I find more troubling in the bill are the plans to sell off state assets with no bid ? Can we hear more about this?

  • Don in Vermont

    We’ve allowed the wealthiest among us to shape our system of capitalism in such a way that nearly all of the profits of our labor end up in the hands of just a few people. We’ve even given them our childrens’ money. We’ve allowed business owners to profit from the exploitation of every resource we have. Still, we have high unemployment. It’s almost enough to make a person think that the cure for high unemployment might not be to throw still more money at the wealthy. We’re pretty much out of money anyway. We need to shape our system of capitalism in a new way, so that the profits from labor and the depletion of resources are more equitably distributed.

  • Anonymous

    I guess you actually have to be from Wisconsin to get the full picture of what it is really about here. It is about Walker and the Republicans ending the ability of large groups of working people form organizing and pooling money in an attempt to counteract the political contributions and lobbying dollars from corporations and the wealthy like Walker’s money men the Koch brothers. It is about Walker’s ideology that the government should not provide anything in terms of public services and that the quality of any persons life, even with respect to children’s education, medical care, etc. should only depend on the individual ability to pay for it. That’s why Walker really wants to go a completely private education system. Why he wants to sell publicly operated power plants to his money men the Koch brothers with no public bidding and with out any public examination of whether this is a good thing for the people of Wisconsin.

  • Jenn

    Jason, Steven, and John Please discuss — It was reported that American Prosperity (founded by tea party Dick Army) is taking a bus around the state promoting Gov. Walker’s plan. What do you think of this? They have plenty of money to spread around for their ’causes’!!!!

    • ThresherK

      Yup. And I believe Joe The Plumber (‘s Little Helper) is in Wisconsin making more of a fool of himself.

      We are entering Teabagger territory: A “big” Astroturfed pro-Walker rally got, what, 900 attendees? At least there weren’t 300 reporters breathlessly reporting on it.

  • Nick in Chicago

    Did the unions cause the deficits? The banking system failed on their own, and yet the government bailed them out, with little if no punishment. Now the unions are getting slammed and left out high and dry. Bailout the banks, screw over the teachers? That’s what it looks like.
    Nick Grutz, Chicago Il

    • Beverly

      That’s what it is, thanks to the “FAIR & BALANCED” fasciests

  • TerryTreeTree

    WHERE ARE THE JOBS??? THE RICH GOT THEIR TAX-CUTS TEN YEARS AGO! The public should be asking each and every one of those that got the rich tax-cuts WHERE ARE THE JOBS?? That was the WORD of George W. Bush, to get the tax cuts. Have jobs increased since then in the U.S.?? Workers have sacraficed for those ten years. The rich have spent billions, if not trillions since then, to give jobs to people like Gov. Walker, how much have they spent on REAL jobs for real people??

    Terry in Brewstertown, Tenn.

    • Cory

      Gottem ten years ago, and are STILL getting them!

      Eat the rich!

  • geffe

    This man is lying. HE’S LYING! Tom stop his lies.

  • Ted

    Absent improvements in productivity, union members gain at the expense of whoever is paying the bill. It is nonsense to think unions created the middle class. If every worker belonged to a union no one would be disadvantaged, but no one would be better off. The rich v. poor thing doesn’t hold water. Do you remember the ‘Workers’ Paradise’? That was East Germany, and what a mess that was. Germany is still picking up the pieces. Think productivity. It’s the only viable strategy in a very competitive world.

    • Cory

      Yes….. Must grow our way out of our problems….. The unlimited growth paradigm provides all answers…… We don’t need to solve our problems, just outgrow them!

      • Anonymous

        Growing out of problems is much easier in states that are “right to work” states with low taxes. Good luck to Wisconsin!

        • Cory

          It is also easier to obtain banjo lessons in right to work states.

          • Ryan H

            Corey, it’s also easier to be an union A-hole in union states. Why don’t you stop with the name calling and crying and state some facts to support your arguments.

        • geffe

          Really? I see you’re a big fan of mythology. Zeus called and he want’s his chariot back.

        • Tracy

          Yeah, Brandstad. Right. That’s worked so well for Texas, the poster child on all the magazine covers during the worst of the recession. Now the state is facing a budget deficit as bad as California’s, and I notice the media isn’t reporting on it nearly as much. So much for GOP fiscal responsibility.

        • Jack Shultz

          Do you mean states like Texas, where despite being a so called ” right to work” state, they face even larger deficits than Wisconsin?

    • ThresherK

      Do you remember “company towns” and getting paid in scrip with, say, George Pullman’s name on it, which could only be spent at a “company store”?

      That was productive for Pullman, not so much for his serfs.

    • Jack Shultz

      In the last 30 years there have been enoromous increases in productivity, however most of the benefits of those gains have gone to capital, while workers’ wages have been stagnant and workers themselves have been “downsized” while their jobs have been shipped off to the third world.

  • Heidi Nepveu

    The budget deficit was created by Walker when he lowered taxes for corps.

    The pensions in WI were not in fiscal trouble.

    Walker is lying to people.

    • Ryan_hennings

      Walker gave tax breaks to corporations to hire people. Why don’t you try to know what you are talking about before you start accussing Walker of lying.

  • Terry Fortman

    The right wing is turning workers against one another. The real problem is the wealth concentrated among wealthy people. Most private sector and public sector workers are being shafted. Redistribution of wealth is needed. What we do not need is to turn workers against one another like this!

    • Jack Shultz

      The process of wealth concentration really began in earnest with Ronald Reagan, who’s economic policies were described by his own budget director, David Stockman, in the Atlantic Magazine back in the 80′s as “Reverse Robin Hood”, i.e., STEALING FROM THE POOR TO GIVE TO THE RICH.
      This has been the policy ever since, both of Republicans and Democrats.
      Now, with their backs up against the wall, working people have finally woken up and are starting to fight back. It’s long past time, but better late than never.
      I expect in the next year or two that there will be a different debate on the role of government and taxes than the one we’ve been hearing for the last 3 decades.

  • Joe Hill

    The guest is absolutely wrong! The WI unions DID offer to make concessions on raising the percentages for health care etc. Walker then persisted with wanting to eliminate collective bargaining. This man is lying.

    He’s saying “why should the taxpayers fund the Democratic party?” Why doesn’t he also say, “why should the taxpayers fund the Republican party?” since taxpayers’ money goes to all the corporate tax breaks corporations enjoy–at the expense of both workers AND taxpayers!

    • Bobl1234

      Joe — Bobl1234 here, from 2 comments later. I completely agree. If the country is ever to get out of the mess it has gotten itself into, we’ll surely have to learn how to talk to each other about such inconsistencies.

    • Ryan H

      Joe,

      Let’s not forget that the tax breaks that the “evil corporations” get are tax breaks for employing your arse. How about we eliminate all tax breaks for corporations, tax their profits harder and then 20% of us will join the unemployement line to collect our government check. Sound good?

    • Ryan H

      Joe,

      Let’s not forget that the tax breaks that the “evil corporations” get are tax breaks for employing your arse. How about we eliminate all tax breaks for corporations, tax their profits harder and then 20% of us will join the unemployement line to collect our government check. Sound good?

  • geffe

    The tax payers are not paying to fund anything.
    The WI unions pay their own dues, and pensions and benefits.
    This man is lying through his teeth. This is nothing but a right wing republican ideology and propaganda. STOP THIS MANS LIES!

    • Ryan_hennings

      Geffe,

      You have gone off the deep end. Nobody is lying and it’s not a right wing republican ideology. It’s a fact that WI unions do NOT pay their own pensions and benefits. Under the new agreement they will NOW start to pay a PORTION of there benefits.

  • TKS

    Re: the comment about the government funding the Democratic party. Excuse me? The union dues are paid from employee salaries. Just because they are public employees does not preclude their freedom to pay union dues. Why is this point, which has been repeatedly raised over the last few weeks, not being challenged?

    • geffe

      Yes why? It’s a complete lie.

  • Kyerionp

    It seems that one could make the same argument that tax breaks that go corporations end up supporting the Republican party, as much as unions funding Democratic candidates who then legislate sweet deals for the unions.

  • Daniel

    My wife who works as a teacher, with “sympathetic politicians” at the bargaining table has had to take pay cuts for the past 3 years.

    • Ryan H

      That’s part of the business cycle. Everyone takes a hair cut. Be thankful she is still employeed.

      • Rjenness

        All I can say is that you should enjoy your “all by myself” life now. I believe that with time, you will become aware of the arrogance of your stance. Let’s hope you gain a little compassion along the way.

  • John Richardson

    I find it ironic that as the rest of the world’s poor, lower and middle classes try desperately to gain rights in battles with their “leaders” our
    country’s republican “leaders” are working hard to restrict and/or remove many of these same classes hard fought gains in basic rights such as collective bargaining,

    John Richardson

  • Hoshiar

    Your guest from SWJ should also mentioned that the republican ar supported and elected by corporation money and these elected Republicans carry out out the agenda of these corporations and wealthy 1-2% Americans.

  • Kowtow

    If the issue of collective bargaining stems from the fact that Labor Unions contribute to campaigns… This is going to sound novel… but why don’t pass some meaningful campaign finance reform that eliminates corporate and special interest funding of candidates?

  • Joen HIll

    Work rules are The Issue?! Collective bargaining means that the other side agreed to the rules. Now they want to reneg on them. That’s called breaking a contract. That’s why Walker wants to eliminate collective bargaining. He doesn’t want to have to negotiate fairly with groups of workers standing up to protect their jobs and families.

  • Beverly

    What do the unions have to do with Walker screwing up the Economy?

  • Catherine

    I had the same response to the on air comment as TKS. The dues are paid from salaries and thus are property of the employee, also a taxpayer, who has the right to spend it for political purposes. Its not public money supporting the democratic party it is donations from employees as private citizens

  • Bobl1234

    Walker’s supporters distinguish between public and private sector workers when it comes to union organizing, yet they hold public sector workers up (down?) to private standards on practically every other dimension.

  • ELB

    Question. I keep hearing that “Taxpayers are funding the Democratic Party” by having public unions taking member dues and then using them for lobbying / contributions. Can someone explain why that is fundamentally different from a defense contractor donating shareholder money to Republicans without the explicit consent of the shareholders or taxpayers? The money that goes those defense contractors comes out of my taxes, same as the union dues that are collected from public employees…

    • Robort

      EXACTLY. The GOP meme makers are working overtime on these… Remember “bussing in supporters”? And then the Kochs brought in their bus and that was the end of that…

      • Ryan_hennings

        There’s nothing wrong with the Koch brothers. Go libertarians!

    • Ryan H

      You are right! There is no difference and they are equally wrong. I don’t like public unions and I don’t like strong business lobbyist.

  • tom(w)

    Joke (from unknown author)
    A union worker, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across the table, takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea
    Partier and says: “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”

  • Joe Hill

    Yes, campaign finance laws are what is NOT being discussed. They are picking on unions for campaign contributions?! But what about corporations–now called “a person” by the Supreme Court!–and their tremendous monetary clout? They can buy any election they want–and have. Blaming unions for trying to contribute to candidates that support the middle class workers is a smoke screen to deflect attention from the corporations’ and banksters’ domination of the commercial media and electoral process (e.g., faulty voting machines in OHio, etc.).

    • Robort

      the notion that “taxpayers are paying for contributions to Dems” is only compelling if the same people object to taxpayers paying for contributions to Republicans via Halliburton contracts and their subsequent support of GOP.

  • John

    private sector does not seem to favor employees negotiating higher wages that take away from possible payouts to stockholders and executives, this is the issue that all working class must be aware of, raising pay across the board, union or non-union is a long time coming. Asking executives to accept a few million dollars less a year to support underpaid employees seems to only make sense.
    Continue to ignore this fact and the system will collapse and many corporations will be on the wrong side of history as a result.

  • NutShellApocalypse7
  • Greg Barnes

    Tom, some context please. Most of the current national debt came from the two Bush administrations. The two wars estimated to cost up to six trillion dollars were run off budget. The two tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires added billions more (700 each if I remember right), a pittance compared to the stimulus.

    In the 70′s a guy named Winninski proposed the “two Santa Clause” theory to Reagan. The first Santa was to borrow and spend everything they could (Reagan borrowed more than every president added together up to that time), and if they lost the presidency, the second was to scream bloody murder about the deficits which they caused but could deflect with their all-pervasive broadcast industry. It has worked like a charm every time.

    And how is any government keeping more of my pay before I get it different from making me pay it back as a tax? And why is not raising taxes on corporations and billionaires not on the table?

    Greg

  • George

    I’m curious to know how Mr. Toronto and others of his ilk in the conservative media can explain the internal contradiction on the right of the American’s United decision, whereby when a citizen buys a product, he or she contributes to a vastly right wing political funding machine. This fact counters his claim that tax payers’ money is being used, via union dues, to prop up left-of-center political campaigns.

    • Robort

      Right on.

  • Mike in PA

    Ok, we get it. Teachers, Firefighters and Police Workers are getting the shaft here. But what about the rest of the government sector jobs? What about the representatives, their respective stafts, agencies, etc. etc. Have cuts already been made/taken by those tax-paid-for jobs?

    • William

      For the last two years Teachers, Fire/Police got a bail out from the Feds. Those sectors of the economy were not hurting like construction, manufacturing etc.. It was just a political payoff or vote buying to the unions.

  • Anonymous

    Please stop passing on mis-information! Taxpayers do not pay for union dues!

    Workers get paid for the work they do and then pay dues with their EARNED money. The taxpayers got WORK DONE for THEIR money!

    Get it RIGHT!

  • Marc

    What’s being missed in the discussion about class issues and all of this is the fact that health and pension costs spiraled up because Wall St. tanked the economy and they–the elite–received a bail out whereas now the expectation is that the budget will be balanced on the backs of working people

  • ThresherK

    The caller at :47 minutes: Did I miss the point where the Dem-controlled Congress had a flash vote by voice? Did he miss the record number of filibusters and holds by a GOP-minority Senate?

  • Sue

    Unions have created and maintained a middle class for what used to be underprivileged workers. But today I feel I am paying taxes so that union workers can be assured of the lifestyle that is eroding for me. I had a 32-year career with a Fortune 50 insurance company, and by the time I retired, my pension had been frozen at 28 years and I had completely lost any employer subsidy for the cost of my health care, which, upon a pre-Medicare retirement, cost $1,800 a month. I ended up having to leave my employer-guaranteed medical benefits to turn to a state plan for $900 a month. (Fortunately there WAS a state plan I could turn to.) Oh, and by the way, did I tell you that my former employer is a major HEALTH insurance company?

    At the same time, I have two friends, one a retired state police officer (who retired at 44), and one a retired city police officer, whose medical and dental insurance is paid at 100 percent and pensions that fully reflected their full years of service.

    Think about it, Tom. Their additional monthly pension and their free medical care is the difference between a second home, a new car every year, better credit, great vacations. I appreciate their service, but as my retirement expenses grow, I am feeling resentful of the giant freebies that differentiate our lifestyles. And, as a taxpayer, that I paid for!!!!

    • Anonymous

      So because your private pension has tanked and you had no contract, your going after retired POLICE who had better bargaining because they belonged to a union.

      Is this a game of who hits the bottom first?

      • Sue

        There’s a whole world of people out there who do not have union representation. It wasn’t a matter of joining a union. It’s a matter of watching my taxes going to support a lifestyle I have no way of affording. MOST people in this in this country do not have a union to join. Most have to worry about medical : availability, affordability. Most union employees do not. It’s a huge differentiator, and nobody talks about it.

        • Cory

          Form a union at your workplace. It is how ALL unions are formed. It is really quite easy. Look it up!

        • Anonymous

          You made your choice of where you wanted to work – and now that your Corporate Bosses have left you high & dry, it’s the Unions fault?

          You are going to begrudge retired Police officers for a “lifestyle”???? How obtuse are you? I sincerely doubt your job required you being out in public in all sorts of weather, dealing with crime and abuse, witnessing the aftermath of horrendous accidents and possibly being injured or killed in the line of duty any day? No, I doubt it.

          Police/Fire/Teachers(assaults on teachers are rising every day) aren’t riding any gravy train of easy money for thier “lifestyle”. They are the cogs that make this Democratic Republic work, keeping us safe, protecting our homes & businesses, and teaching our children. It is a price we pay for civilized society. I detect a bit of Union-envy going on here because they have protections the rest of us free-style jamokes do not. Its a dog-eat-dog world and non-union middle-class employees are dog-food.

    • Joe Hill

      Most public employees contribute the vast lion’s share of their own benefits. You are wrong that taxpayers pay most of public employees’ benefits.

      I am sorry you’ve lost your retirement and health security. Why didn’t you join a union when you had the chance? You took the risk, in exchange for higher pay from a private company, that the private company would take care of your health and retirement needs. Unions have negotiated for better benefits in exchange for lower pay. Now some may have the security you wish (or thought) you had. Your bet long ago was that the company would care about you later. Union members know better. They know that, left alone, companies want more work, more hours, with less pay and lower benefits for their workers. They may pay more initially, but where are your benefits when you need them?

      • Anonymous

        Joe, you have no idea what you are talking about. All studies show that most government workers contribute close to nothing to their healthcare and pensions. Only in recent years have people started making them contribute, but they only now contribute 6% or less.

        • Ryan H

          Joe,

          Brandstad is right. You don’t know what you are talking about. Some public unions pay 100% of the employees pension and health insurance. Some public unions pay 75%.

          You say “Most public employees contribute the vast lion’s share of their own benefits. You are wrong that taxpayers pay most of public employees’ benefits.” SIMPLY ISN’T TRUE.

        • Coryt

          “All studies show…” Hmmmm.

        • Jack Shultz

          To Brandstad,

          Show us some of the studies that you claim show that most government workers contribute close to nothing to their healthcare and pensions. I’d be interested in the source of these studies.

          I expect that your studies generally come from right wing think tanks that spend most of their time manufacturing new factoids which are generally untrue but quoted extensively in the corporate media.

      • Sue

        I worked for a major private corporation. We had no union!!! I did work for a union when I was a teenager and I saw what a wonderful gravy train it was. I got paid for 6 hours when, because of generous breaks, I only worked 5.

        Personally I feel that the great equalizer for all workers would be national health care, where your quality of life is dependent on choosing a wonderful career or hearty benefits.

    • geffe

      Sue you had years of these people protecting and putting their lives on the line. Now you want them to go away and live the way you do because you did not have a union job. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a cop for 20 or more years? Retiring at 44 also does not mean they get 100% of their retirement benefits. At least in my state that’s the case. How many serious car accidents does a State Trooper have to see before it’s OK to retire? Some of these folks just can’t take it after a while.

    • Anonymous

      Sue I understand your pain. I am nearing retirement and I am concerned with talk of cutting Social Security benefits in order to decrease federal deficits. Never mind that SS added nothing to the deficits and the debt over the last year, it has always run a surplus, and that the deficits came from Reagan/Bush tax cuts. I have only ever worked in the private sector and never have been a member of any union. Yet I don’t like you apparently buy into the class warfare we are being sold. Not the class warfare FOX News screams about whenever the issue of raising taxes on the wealthy or high income comes up, but the real class warfare that has been going on in this country ever since Reagan was elected. The very upper class has been waging ware on the middle class and winning, in fact for the last 10 years it has been a rout.

      I think you are directing your fear and anger in the wrong direction though. The benefits that public employees now have were obtained as part of negotiations for total compensation that they through their union collectively bargained for. Contracts were signed and the workers performed their jobs. I don’t know if you ever watch Jon Stewart, but if not you should really have a view of this recent segment.

      http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/thu-march-3-2011-diane-ravitch

    • William

      The business owner, i.e. risk taker created and maintains the middle class. Unions just extort as much as they can get away with and don’t really care if the business owner survives.

  • Jay

    Union told Walker that they would be willing to give concessions on health and pension benefits. Walker should go back to the table and see what union ends up doing – bargain up or down.

    Also, Cambridge and Somerville MA Police make well over six figures with overtime and detail work. So base salary can be 60K, but annual pay is 150K and up. Some unions have same greed reputation as corrupt non-union executives.

  • john

    caller saying that elections have consequences forget the last 2 years Repub decided to not govern because they were oppossed to legislation, quid pro quo

  • Kathy

    Please understand that this is a divide and conquer strategy from the right wing. Deconstructing public unions is another step toward destroying all unions. Without unions, big business can cut worker wages even further. Unions may behave in self-serving ways and they may be unpopular at this time, but they represent workers in the face of big business. The ruthless Republicans are trying to eliminate them in order to reduce wages. Just ask Grover Norquist.

  • Tony from CT

    In Connecticut State employee’s retirements are based on their last two years of income rather than their salary. Senior level police officers, firemen, and social service employees secure overtime working more than one shift in their last years of employment, retiring with pensions which are 35 – 40% high than their annual salary at retirement. Pensions of 250k not uncommon. CT Taxpayers are paying for twice the number of state employees actually working due to such unintended abuse of pension plans.

    • ThresherK

      What did the public workers there give up to get this provision? (No snark intended; actually wondering.)

      • Robort

        they have already agreed to benefits cuts–exactly what Gov Walker asked for

        • ThresherK

          How is their governor handling this? I mean, they have a new Democrat in the gov’s office–is he going all “Don’t make me blow this place up” to give the media that tingling feeling like any GOP gov gets?

          • Robort

            ? Do you mean Wisconsin? In WI, the Governor is new, but Republican, and he’s the one driving this whole mess. (The same Gov Walker I listed)

    • ThresherK

      What did the public workers there give up to get this provision? (No snark intended; actually wondering.)

  • Jtkremer30

    The glaring injustice which is overlooked 99.99% of the time is that Wisconsin had a surplus until good old Walker gave all that money away to pad the pockets of his rich owners. Gee… didn’t we go through this in 2000?

  • Beverly

    Look what’s happening in Nevada. Unions can’t protect workers. They have no rights, now they’re having their wages cut!

  • Spdkare

    What’s absolutely maddening is to hear the those on the right proclaiming the “sanctity” of contracts for “Wall Street”, and in the same breath say that we must void contracts with public sector unions and take away their rights to have contracts in the future

  • Jsenpai

    I’ll be honest, I don’t like unions. Seriously, wages are over-inflated for the amount of education a lot of people have. $20-50 an hour for a high school education or less?? I have a college degree and only earn $12.50!! Then their whole seniority issues… They’re ok with layoffs, as long as it’s the new people. Despite the fact that the newer people are usually the most motivated, hardest working people they have. Get rid of unions. They do nothing except burden budgets and people with outrageous dues and fees. They used to have a place. They were needed. But no longer.

    • Laurie

      The problem is that you are underpaid, not that they are overpaid.

    • geffe

      For a person with a college education you seem to be very misinformed and unable to see how you’re anger is misplaced.
      It’s not the unions fault that they have the strength in numbers to bargain for better wages and benefits than you. You could have taken a job with a union. If you’re making $12.50 an hour that’s also your fault is it not? If you’re going to hawk this kind of right wing libertarian rhetoric should not walk the walk to go with the talk?

    • Cory

      You are ignorant. Ignorant of economics and history.

      • new civility

        And you are brilliant!

    • Gullagep

      I am working towards a PhD in Social Policy. If you had ever taken a course in Labor and read why Unions were created and the criminal way in which they were treated, your would side with the unions. I think it is UnAmerican to not side with unions, if one has been educated on the history of unions in this country. It is ok for corporations to fight to keep their wealth, but not ok for the average worker to fight for health care and a decent wage?

      • geffe

        PJS funny how that works is it not. What you’re seeing now is an uneducated angry mass of non-union folks being manipulated by a plutocratic class to get more of the pie. As George Carlin once said, “they want it all, the owners wont be happy until they have it all.”

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

      • Cory

        It really does come down to ignorance and manipulation

        • Harleydbrix

          Those with money run this nation. Unions, Corporations and the wealthy control the politicians and therefore the power of the American people rests only in our ability to learn and to stand up for what is right. We must eliminate the power of the wealthy through not allowing them to make up our minds for us.

    • Gullagep

      I am working towards a PhD in Social Policy. If you had ever taken a course in Labor and read why Unions were created and the criminal way in which they were treated, your would side with the unions. I think it is UnAmerican to not side with unions, if one has been educated on the history of unions in this country. It is ok for corporations to fight to keep their wealth, but not ok for the average worker to fight for health care and a decent wage?

  • Anonymous

    I am a retired teacher who served as president of my local and worked several times on contract maintenance and bargaining. In Iowa each district bargains with the local school district being represented by the director of finance and the superintendent. Neither of them are elected. Our dues money does NOT go to political action. We must pay extra if we want to contribute to the PAC. You also must opt in to do that. It is not done automatically.

    I would like someone to explain to me how it is a conflict of interest for public employees to donate as a group to certain officials, yet it is not a conflict of interest for corporations to do so when they will reap many benefits from tax breaks from the individuals they vote into office?

    We need to attract the best and the brightest to our teaching field. We don’t have the pay to attract them. We need something.

    • geffe

      Excellent points. The republicans do not have an answer because there is none.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        I’m not a Republican and I agree that two wrongs don’t make it right. The problem is when they force members and non members to pay dues AND use the union health plan. Give the members a choice.

        The best solution is tax simplification. This removes the bulk of temptation for mischief and will put the lobbyists out of business.

        Notice that none of the ‘cuts’ proposed in Washington (from the Ds or Rs) includes cutting the $billions in corn ethanol subsidies. I don’t know anyone who thinks they are good. Oh wait, there’s an election in 2012.

        • Jack Shultz

          Everyone who benefits from the unions’ ability to negotiate contracts on their behalf should pay dues.

          Otherwise, many workers can chose to be free riders, gaining the the benefits of union contracts without paying their share to support the union that works on their behalf.

        • Ryan H

          WOrried for the country (MA),

          You hit the nail on the head!

        • Anonymous

          Worried — I’m not unsympathetic with what you say, but it seems nonsensical to have a membership organization committed to giving workers in specific industries the power to negotiate and achieve needed benefits but to which you don’t have to pay costs along with all the rest. And we know that no health plan succeeds unless it operates with a big “risk pool” of members.

          America doesn’t succeed (and maybe it won’t) if we decide individually whether to obey its laws or not, whether to pay taxes or not. At the moment, we’re at the mercy of corporations who opt to do neither. They pay few if any dues. We need more and stronger, not fewer and weaker, organizations to fight corporate greed, political heft, and law breaking. Tax simplification is just a pebble tossed into the pond — hardly a ripple to rock the corporations’ boats.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Good teachers are underpaid. We should pay to attract them. However, we shouldn’t overpay bad teachers. In fact, we should dump them.

      During the last election cycle, here in Mass, the teacher union was one of the largest advertisers. Radio ads, non stop. Mailers, non stop. They killed a lot of trees with those mailers.

    • ThresherK

      Tangent: As a union employee, when’s the last time you or your union got credit for giving back something? Even on NPR (let alone Fox News, which has taken leave of reality), there seems to be the narrative which was fixed when Saint Reagan told Patco to Tear Down This Wall. (This is taken not from actual memory, but based on the media’s hagiography of Reagan this year.)

      But buried in the twentieth paragraph of most of these stories we read about how some unions have been “team players” and “pitched in” during some “tough times”. It’s never the lead. And unless you’re Michael Moore, nobody is hearing that more than 1 time for 100 of the corporatist propoganda.

      I mean, when it comes to our Galtian overlords, “Grab all you can while you can” seems to be the prime directive. So why would the rules be different for the teacher’s unions?

      • Brb

        sherk…you have no memory and you’re delusional like all liberals, to boot. But I agree with Michael Moore…the world’s assets (oil) are our assets.

    • William

      Why do we need to attract the “best and the brightest” to teach? Most of a students success is due to the parents involvement and the student’s dedication to studying. I’m happy with an adequate teacher that gives sufficent instruction.

  • Anonymous

    Obama has polarized our country like no president has ever done before. People that love him, follow his blind lead and read the bill after they pass the bill. People that oppose him insist that we know what he plans to do before he does it, which never seems to happen.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Actually people like you have polarized the country, using Obama as the mechanism. A lot of us who voted for him are openly opposed to many of the things he has supported, a response that would be completely alien to Republican congressmen and people like you who TRULY blindly followed the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. For rational people, like me, it’s about the policy and the results. For blindly faithful fools, it’s about the person and party.

      • Anonymous

        Is that so?

        Can you give me a quick top 10 list of campaign promises that he led the debate on since he was put in office and enacted in law that you support?

    • Anonymous

      You are very accurately describing what happened with Bush. Just substitute “Bush” for “Obama” in your comment and you have it exactly right! Now you get to “just go shopping.”

      • Ryan H

        It always comes back to Bush, lol

        • Anonymous

          Indeed it always does, Ryan.

        • Jack Shultz

          Unfortunately, Bush is not funny.

          If there were any justice in this world, Bush would be busy defending himself this very minute before the ICC.

          And just remember that Bush inherited a balanced budget from Clinton and turned the federal budget into a black hole in only 8 years.

          • Ryan H

            Yes Clinton our savor, with the illusion of a balanced budget. Bush did not do the GOP well. Take away the war and all the legislation he signed for the democratic Congress in his last years and he might have been a descent President. Other than that he is a smear on the GOP.

  • Anonymous

    The Wisconsin Unions will have more Union power than all federal union workers after the governor makes his changes!

  • Anonymous

    The Wisconsin Unions will have more Union power than all federal union workers after the governor makes his changes!

  • Anonymous

    I’m really troubled, once again, by the choice of guests for this discussion.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really troubled, once again, by the choice of guests for this discussion.

  • Laurie

    Personally, I think that private-sector employees who are angry about public-sector employee benefits are misplacing their anger. Be angry that private-sector benefits are poor, which they often are in this country. That’s not the fault of public-sector employees.

    • Anonymous

      If the public sector employees didn’t take so much tax money the private sector workers could pay less taxes and in effect have much higher take home pay.

      • Laurie

        Cite, please. Are you saying that stiffing public-sector employees on pay and benefits would magically make our tax rates go down? I smell bullpucky.

      • Robort

        LOL. You are wildly overestimating the share of wealth held by Unions. Take a look at how much of the total wealth Kochs and money-colleagues have

      • geffe

        Oh please stop with this BS.

        • Anonymous

          So that’s what “BrandStad” stands for. Why didn’t I see that?

      • Hailey

        You mean give money to the rich people so they can share with us poor folks. …BAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • twenty-niner

    I keep hearing the phrase “teachers, firemen, and policemen” in reference to state budgets. Good lord, if this were the only cost, we could double public workers salary. The biggest percentage of state money is being spent on medicaid, with other aid next in line.

    http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2011/March/08/florida-medicaid.aspx

    http://www.empirecenter.org/images/sc02-06/sr02-06-02.gif

    • Brb

      And debt…?

  • Rob (in NY)

    Regarding the proposed changes in WI labor law to prohibit public employees from bargaining collectively over benefits, here are some of my opinions:

    1) There is a certain hypocrisy in Gov. Walker exempting the two unions who supported him (e.g. police and fire fighters). If you believe these changes to WI law should be made, there is no rational basis for excluding these two unions for the changes in law.

    2) In many states, the excess of compensation to public workers is more in the form of benefits, rather than wages. For example, a large employer provided defined benefit pension payable after working as little as 20 or 25 years is part of the employee’s overall compensation and the cost should be disclosed to voters when these votes on labor contracts occur.

    3) State and local governments should be required to account for pension liabilities in the same manner as a private business. Many state and local government plans make unrealistic assumptions regarding expected rates of return and use discount rates that can overstate assets and understate liabilities.

    4) Pensions should be adequately funded. Far too often, politicians promise expanded government services and pay for it by pushing the can down the road by promising future benefits, not adequately funding plans, etc…….This unfair to future tax payers and also state workers.

    Here is one of many good editorials on this issue from the Economist a couple of weeks ago (the short version). The Economist notes that the wide range of estimates put the estimated underfunding of these plans between $700B and $3 trillion.

    http://www.economist.com/node/18229422?story_id=18229422

  • Sash

    Government asking (requesting?, imposing?) public worker to break the contract. At the same time government were not able to break contract of wall street Bonus checks after the recession.
    It might take only few Wall Street Bonuses to resolve.

  • Lon in Appleton, WI

    The lead of this story on On Point says at the end that the protest and indignation in Wisconsin “is spreading.”

    During this I was thinking back to the protests of half a million Hispanic people in the streets two years ago which was given no gravity nor received anything but scant coverage on network media.

    Now the middle class is heard from in the form of a teachers union and other supporters within government services.

    What is disturbing is why no unity was shown those two years ago when the time seemed right for a major show of solidarity among working peoples. Frankly I consider the teacher protest small potatoes.

    Wisconsin is an At Will work state. Is yours? Do you know what that means? If you are in the professional classes you probably don’t and have never been touched by it.

    Only if a larger understanding and greater indignation of the sbuse of wage earners on these other issues which effect entire populations (such as the Hispanic immigration population showed those several years ago) will real change come about.

  • Jack Shultz

    For the last thirty years, labour in the US has been under attack by the right, and during that time, the right has won victory after victory, to the point where, labour, once an important part of the American body politic, had been reduces to a semi-marginal force.
    I believe that all changed in Wisconsin, where the right wingers have clearly overreached and in doing so, has awakened a sleeping giant.
    I is my hope that an awakened labour movement will now arise to fight back to restore the working person in the US to a position of relevence in which labour rights are again respected.

    • PJS

      Jack….I agree. I am working towards a PhD in Social Policy and my studies have focused on the labour movement.

    • Sue

      You’ve awoken another sleeping giant though, too: middle class Americans who are slipping because of the cost of health insurance or the financial burden of uninsured medicare care. America will destroy itself with this class warfare.

      • PJS

        I believe the warfare has not yet begun. I watch my college educated, married children struggle to make a decent wage. It takes two people these days to run a household. Over my twenty-seven years as a real estate broker, I have seen the change in classes, and the size and quality of homes people can afford, slip lower and lower.

      • Jack Shultz

        Most “middle class” Americans are in reality working class people who depend on their wages to get by.

        The problem in the US with health insurance is that it is controlled by large health insurance companies whose first purpose is to make money.

        They do so by maximizing premiums and minimizing coverage.

        The solution is to this problem is not in denying health insurance to unionized workers but to provide health insurance to all through a single payer system finances through taxes, as we do here in Canada.

    • Sue

      You’ve awoken another sleeping giant though, too: middle class Americans who are slipping because of the cost of health insurance or the financial burden of uninsured medicare care. America will destroy itself with this class warfare.

    • William

      The “working person” is only viable if some “working company” hires him. If this “working person” demands more than the “working company” is willing to pay, he shall remain unemployed.

      • Jim in Omaha

        The “working company” only exists as a viable entity if there are “working persons” who pay for its products or services. Yours is a variation on the “no poor person ever gave me a job” BS. Actually, a lot of low income people buying food, household goods, gasoline, etc., with every penny they earn, create the jobs. Investment may respond to the demand, but it does not “create” any jobs. If you don’t believe me, invest all your money in buggy whip and button hook manufacturing and see how long the jobs you “create” last.

        • William

          You have to understand that most people have “no skin in the game” when they get a job. What if the owner demanded that you give up a portion of your salary to pay off the loans the owner took out to finance the business? Would you walk or would you “share the risk?”. Like it or not, if you don’t own the company you are there by the good grace of the owner. If you don’t like that, quit, and go start your own business, assume 100 percent of the risk and hire and pay workers as you desire.

      • Jack Shultz

        William,

        Thanks for your reply.

        I should point out that corporate governance in the US (and in the English speaking world) is quite unique in that essentially only shareholders and creditors are represented on the board of directors.
        In most European countries, other stakeholder are represented on the board of directors as well. These stakeholders include labour and community representatives from the communities in which the corporations operate.
        As a result, the Europeans have become more competitive through more efficient production practices and higher quality products, rather than by downsizing, shipping jobs overseas, and polluting the communities in which they operate.

        The US policy of allowing corporations to avoid taxes, off-shore their production and cut back on employees wages have in fact made these corporations less rather than more competitive, because they have been able to avoid improving their production methods or the quality of their products.

        • William

          I think the most important group is the investors or the guy that puts up the money to start a company. When Obama stole 10 billion dollars of GM and gave it to the UAW that was a major theft from the investors.

          The problem with taxes has always been “when will the gov. back off”.? FDR set a bad example when he went after companies and the wealthy back during the Great Depression. Companies and wealthy people remember that and I can’t blame them for moving their money off shore.

    • Rob (in NY)

      I consistently work over 60 hours per week, but I guess that I do not count as a “working person” based on your definition because I either make too much money and/or do not belong to a union. During my career, people have chosen to employ me and I have chosen to hire people. All of this was done through voluntary consent and self interest. While I agree with a reasonable social safety net and do not agree with the entire GOP agenda (e.g. there is a role for a competent but limited government), I still prefer an economic system that relies on voluntary consent of employees and employers with each acting in his or her own economic self interest, rather than a group of self proclaimed enlightened politicians acting in the supposed “public interest”, which is reality often means nothing more than their own short term political interest.

      Why do you folks on the left believe economic self interest is some how evil, but political self interest is noble? How do you propose prices of goods, services, and yes labor be set without a functioning marketplace? Do you guys believe there is some kind of salary good (or lets call it salary fairy) who can decide prices based on some politicized definition of fairness?

      For the record, I do believe unions should have the legal right to exist and bargain collectively to some degree, but the specific rights also need to balanced with the rights of employers and taxpayers and will always vary based on state laws.

    • Rob (in NY)

      I consistently work over 60 hours per week, but I guess that I do not count as a “working person” based on your definition because I either make too much money and/or do not belong to a union. During my career, people have chosen to employ me and I have chosen to hire people. All of this was done through voluntary consent and self interest. While I agree with a reasonable social safety net and do not agree with the entire GOP agenda (e.g. there is a role for a competent but limited government), I still prefer an economic system that relies on voluntary consent of employees and employers with each acting in his or her own economic self interest, rather than a group of self proclaimed enlightened politicians acting in the supposed “public interest”, which is reality often means nothing more than their own short term political interest.

      Why do you folks on the left believe economic self interest is some how evil, but political self interest is noble? How do you propose prices of goods, services, and yes labor be set without a functioning marketplace? Do you guys believe there is some kind of salary good (or lets call it salary fairy) who can decide prices based on some politicized definition of fairness?

      For the record, I do believe unions should have the legal right to exist and bargain collectively to some degree, but the specific rights also need to balanced with the rights of employers and taxpayers and will always vary based on state laws.

    • Brb

      Jack,…you’re more delusional than Bev, the governor in WI was elected.

  • Sue

    Tom, how about a show on how the crazy patchwork of medical benefits (affordability and availability) is eroding our society? When I heard my own brother say that medical benefits were a privilege, not a right, he had just been elected to a part-time job as the county supervisor which provided full medical insurance for his dependents and a pension plan.

    Forget that he was 60 and had worked in banking his entire career. It was the municipal job that provided all the free benefits, and he was proud of his coup.

    By his logic, I had been dumb to build a 32-year career with a company who, because it knew that benefits were eroding its profitability, decided to eliminate subsidized medical care. This is true in state and municipal governments, too, but instead of cutting back expenses, they cut services to the taxpayers who fund these gilded benefit plans.

  • TomK in Boston

    Let’s see, the middle class has suffered horribly under what George Bush accurately called “voodoo economics”. A small group manages to hold on to the American dream, unionized workers. Does it take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that unions are a force for good? Why is it so easy for the corporate media to make this about overpaid, privileged workers vs the workers that their bosses have already offshored and macjobbed?

    We’re NOT “broke”. GDP has kept rising steadily since 1980. The problem is that it’s all going to the estates of the superrich and can’t be used to pay teachers and maintain roads.

    Surprise, the USA and the states have deficits. We deregulated the financial criminals who crashed the economy, maintain top income tax rates at extreme lows, hardly make corporations pay taxes at all, have all manner of anti-tax statutes, and are paying for two insane wars. Gee, imagine that, a deficit. Must be the darn teachers with their fat cat salaries.

    Makes me sick.

    • William

      I blame Bill Clinton and the Democrats for ramming that NAFTA trade agreement through Congress. Obama is pushing for the same deal with China and South Korea. The Democrats tell their union supporters one thing and toss them off the bus the next day. They have destroyed the middle class.

      • Dave in CT

        War to open markets, and then phony “free-trade” for the connected corporations, under completely un-free trade agreements that screw foreign individuals along with our workers for the sake of the political-corporate cabal.

        A long tradition for our 2 party beast.

      • TomK in Boston

        Right. And I blame clinton for signing off on the deregulation schemes of the far right GoP congress, notably the “commodities futures modernization act” that kept derivatives unregulated, and the repeal of Glass-Stegall.

        Sadly, no party has a monopoly on voodoo economics.

    • Brb

      Tom…you’re delusional (most liberals are, take comfort) Bush never called Reagan “voodoo”

      • TomK in Boston

        Love that civility, but, sorry, George Bush Sr accurately tagged far right Reaganomics “voodoo economics”. It’s true that “Bush never called Reagan “voodoo””, and I didn’t say he did.

        From Investopedia:

        What Does Voodoo Economics Mean?
        A slanderous term used by George H. W. Bush in reference to President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies, which came to be known as “Reaganomics”.

        Hey, if you want “delusional”, how about arguing that the economic policies that caused the Bush crash are the fix for the Bush crash?

  • Bill5

    This post is a repeat of the one I made on 2/22/11 (OnPoint- Battleground: Wisconsin).

    If the unions bargaining rights are eroded significantly, one of the fundamental principles of our country’s basis will be compromised, and that is the idea of checks and balances. This was a fundamental concern of our Founding Fathers to make sure no one center of power dominates another. To give the ”municipal managers” a minimally checked power to “manage” their municipalities is a potentially dangerous condition. There already is a strong imbalance with special interest groups (corporations, unions, etc.) having no restrictions on the amount of money that can be expended to influence “democratic” elections; and hence the power they have over elected politicians.

    The political leaders should be informing and discussing with the electorate regarding this reality and the need for checks and balances, rather than doing whatever they feel is necessary to push their agendas and get themselves elected/re-elected.

  • Beverly

    Right now, I’m listening to “Fresh Air”. Terry’s guest is Philip Dray, author of “There’s Power in a Union”, winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.

    There are a few blog visitors who don’t understand anything about unions, so they don’t like them. Those people should do themselves, (& America’s middle class), a favor, by listening to this program, & reading Philip Dray’s outstanding book.

    • Brb

      G’bye, Bev

  • Søren

    The one speaker needs to be corrected – he stated public unions are negotiating with elected officials their campaign donations put in office. Sure, that can happen, but its only part of the picture. Many elected officials are put in office by corporate money, the biggest source of financing for the GOP. Should we not have the discussion of publicly traded companies spending hundred of millions on special interests, lobbyists and having their “person” put in office. Is this democratic? Well, its what passes for democracy in 2011 USA. No where else is this called democracy.

  • Søren

    I have seen the excesses of conservative ideals in the public workplace. I worked for the US Patent Office in DC as a contract employee. Basically, the US federal government paid my employer 3 times the rate of a federal employee. My employer turned around and paid me about 75% of what federal employees were getting paid. For this handsome bonus, my employer was supply training (never did), oversight (saw the company representative once every week or two – when they had other things for me to do – non-PTO), provide insurance (I ended up buying insurance myself at a lower rate for better insurance). If the government was closed due to weather, I was expected to work my weekends to make up that time – my employer only focused on billing the US government for every penny they could

    I left in disgust. Yet, this is true throughout “privatization” of government that the GOP rolls out as being a cost savings to the tax payer and will lead to higher efficiencies. Its a straight out lie. The GOP is the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Harleydbrix

      This issue has nothing to do with government contracts. This is about the harm that unions have done to our educational system. We are well behind the rest of the world in education and this is primarily due to the employment of inefficient teachers who feel so secure in their jobs that they do what they want. There was a fifth grade teacher in my elementary who was content with allowing the children in his class to do crossword puzzles all day. His students learned nothing. Now tell me that the union helped out those children. The educational system is not about protecting teachers it is about educating and protecting children. Otherwise we might as well hand over all of our powers to China and India.

      • twenty-niner

        Wrong. The big picture is the little guy constantly getting scammed by the big guy, whether we’re talking about, unions, too big to fail banks, endless wars, slave labor in China, or out-of-control government contracts.

        It’s all part of the same stew.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

          Slave labor in China is the exact slave labor that began at our own industrial revolution more than 100 years ago. They need unions to protect those people until laws have been enacted to provide better protection. We are 100 years ahead of them and we have laws to protect teachers and employees in every sector. The unions have outlived their purpose in this nation and now they are a nuisance.

          • twenty-niner

            The best way to have protected their workers and ours would’ve been to not give China MFN status. You can thank Clinton for that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

            China has to learn the importance in protecting their workers just as we had to learn the importance in protecting our own workers. Becoming a most favored nation is of course as a result of corporate influence in politics. Our corporations have ignited China’s industrial revolution but the momentum is there and even if the US removed this status and even if corporations began on-shoring labor back to the US, China will not lose their momentum. They will continue to become more industrialized and therefore the demand for unions in China will increase. Because we, the US, are in a different situation we must scrutinize our unions and realize that many unions are self serving and not benefiting anyone. There are some exceptions but teacher’s unions are not one.

          • Dave in CT

            I think its the other way around. “China” and “We” have to learn the importance protecting our own workers? That is very top down.

            I think we had the better answer when we fought a Revolution to get out from under Britain’s thumb, and try a more liberty-driven, bottom-up approach, not a hope-for-scraps from the elite above one.

            We could easily be revolting against our corrupt State Capitalism and demanding a return to our principles of We the People again, with the Rule of Law and individual choice and opportunity, and not the Rule of the Elite plan.

            Thinking we need to choose between State Capitalism and Socialism is a false choice IMO. I wish we could see that and come together around a better solution.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

            The world doesn’t work that way. Most people don’t do what is right for those around them. James Smith knew this and so he helped to propagate a system whereby he believed that the national community would benefit from the greed of a few. This is incomplete as pointed out by John Nash. Socialism and Capitalism are opposite ends of the same spectrum. Capitalism can achieve many great things as long as it is bound by regulations that prohibit the abuse of workers, consumers and smaller businesses. Trust busting was one of the greatest forms of regulation that this nation has enacted but that was a long time ago. The problem that we have now is that our two party system rarely presents a candidate that will stand up against greed and the abuses of power because those two parties depend on their funding from interested billionaires. They will not promote any individual who would oppose these powerful people. As long as parties are deciding our candidates for us then we will not make much progress and Americans will be fooled into believing that a socialist state is necessary and anyone from a socialist nation can tell the woes of living in an economy that fails to reward the efforts of the individual.

    • twenty-niner

      Excellent post.

      I know this scam well, and the looting is unprecedented. Contractors (that is: executives and company owners) are making billions off tax-payer dollars (which are now largely printed dollars) for literally doing nothing more than forwarding time sheets to government accountants. So many contractors have their hands in the pie, collecting what could only be considered a mafia-style tax on what used to be government positions, which are now being filled by contractors, millions of them. A big company like Booze Allen gets a blanket IT contract; they take their cut. Working under Booze are the subs and subs to the subs, each one taking a piece of the pie.

      The government gets charged $250 an hour for a guy who’s getting paid $50 an hour, and the contractors literally pocket the rest. The best part, there’s almost no overhead – the workers generally work on site, in a government building, heated by government steam, sitting in a government cube, operating government computers, and drinking government coffee. Some of the smaller contractors don’t even have real offices. I know a guy who was running a 50-man firm out of this house. Buy the way, he made millions. By the way, he added no value. The other scam: 8-A. A lot of the subs have what’s called 8-A certification (minority owned, disadvantaged) where they get preferential bidding. Funny thing, when you see the big Christmas party at the end of the year, everyone seems to be white.

      Half the people in DC are on the take, and it’s the taxpayer who’s getting took. The grift is bigger than anything conceived the five big mafia families combined, and to top it off, it’s all legal. If you think big Wall Street banks make you sick, come and see what’s going on the nation’s capital. It’s Mardi Gras every day. For the privileged contractor class, there has been no recession, no down turn, not even a cloudy day. The worst part is that this is all happening in complete stealth. I don’t think even seen a single article on what could be one of the biggest frauds in the nation’s history.

      “6 of the 10 richest counties in U.S. are in DC area”

      http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/6-10-richest-counties-us-are-dc-area

      ASK YOURSELF, WHY ARE 6 OF THE 10 RICHEST COUNTIES IN THE DC AREA. LOOK AT THE BOTTOM LINE. COME ON NPR, THERE’S A BIG STORY HERE

    • William

      Actually, it is still cheaper to hire outside help because the federal gov. does not have any legacy costs, no retirement, no long term medical, etc..

  • Søren

    I have seen the excesses of conservative ideals in the public workplace. I worked for the US Patent Office in DC as a contract employee. Basically, the US federal government paid my employer 3 times the rate of a federal employee. My employer turned around and paid me about 75% of what federal employees were getting paid. For this handsome bonus, my employer was supply training (never did), oversight (saw the company representative once every week or two – when they had other things for me to do – non-PTO), provide insurance (I ended up buying insurance myself at a lower rate for better insurance). If the government was closed due to weather, I was expected to work my weekends to make up that time – my employer only focused on billing the US government for every penny they could

    I left in disgust. Yet, this is true throughout “privatization” of government that the GOP rolls out as being a cost savings to the tax payer and will lead to higher efficiencies. Its a straight out lie. The GOP is the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  • Nancy

    We keep hearing that Walker won and we should agree with everything he proposes. Why weren’t these people saying, “Obama won and we ought to go along with everything he says?” How odd and how very human.

  • Harleydbrix

    If you understand history then you understand where unions come from. In essence they were a response to employer abuse of employees who had to work in very strenuous and often dangerous working conditions. As laws have been passed to protect workers there still exists unions and in some private sectors this is still needed however teacher unions cause more damage than good. Some would argue that this is purely monetary however the biggest damage that they cause is to our children and secondarily to our teachers. I have seen more than a handful of teachers keep their jobs when they should be terminated and disallowed to work as teachers again. This is because a collective bargaining systems eliminates the ability for a teacher to be fired based on performance. My brothers and myself have paid the price for this establishment. I have also seen many great teachers suffer monetarily because they cannot afford the necessities of life because they are not as tenured in the union as some older and less effective teachers who are making more money. The teachers union needs to be removed so that our children can be protected and provided with a better education and maybe then our schools will improve in comparison with the rest of the World.

    Harley Brix
    Spokane WA

    • Spdkare

      Well Harley, based on your grammar and syntax, you should have paid better attention to your teachers growing up. Had you done so, you’d be able to coherently express your thoughts and actually make a point. As it is, I’m not sure just what you are saying…

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

        That’s so funny. You have completely missed the point in focusing on grammar. My grammar is not the issue, although perhaps I should reread what I have written. Your failure to reply with a substantial argument against what I have said states more about your inability to comprehend the issue than my own.

        • geffe

          Well I dare say that it is sir, when context and comprehension are part of a discourse.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

            This is a blog an not a political journal you elitist.

    • William

      I agree. NEA does nothing but block any changes in the the education system. Their only answer is more money, more money. If you want a voucher, forget it. Give us more money. All teachers should be hired and fired on their performance.

  • Scott

    Wisconsin is just the start of the downfall of middle class America.
    I write you to explain how incredibly hurtful SB5 and HB69 are to loyal public servants in Ohio. These folks are not radical liberals bent on making selfish gains. These are good middle class people who have made great personal sacrifices to try and make the world a better place. Voting for such legislation is a vote to destroy the fabric of democracy.

    I’m in my 26th year of teaching in a suburban school district of Columbus, Ohio. I’ve done everything ever asked of me as a teacher by my school district. I’ve never had a single negative evaluation and been praised my entire career for my efforts. I passed on higher salaries early in my career because I wanted to devote my life to helping young people through teaching. Here is how Ohio rewards their public servants…

    The combination of SB5 and restructuring of STRS (State Teachers Retirement System – HB69) thanks me with a retirement package that puts me below the family poverty line in the United States. In 2015 I’m eligible for retirement and would receive 66% of the average of my last 5 years salary. At this point I begin paying for health care through STRS. For me this costs $250 / month, but for my wife to get the same coverage it costs $1,650 / month. That equals almost $23,000 per year. When I subtract this from my pension, I move from middle class to poverty class. And it doesn’t end there…

    My plan prior to SB5 was to keep working as long as my kids were in college and my love of teaching continued. SB5 ends this option since it allows school districts to cut senior teachers for the cost savings. The protections formerly provided by the teacher’s union are gone. Bottom line is that experience is not valued above cost saving. Those that say unions exist to protect poor teachers are very mistaken. All good educators want to protect students from harm. For me the union meant I had a voice to advocate for students without risking my job.

    I’m NOT that crappy teacher milking the system. Ask anyone I work with at my school. I am there hours before and hours after the kids have gone home. I work at home evenings and weekends. A 12 hour day is typical for my schedule and in my school most teachers put in these kinds of hours. The reason SB5 is so devastating is the combination of year-to-year employment that is counter balanced by reduced retirement benefits.

    If I work a day beyond my 30th year, my top pension rate of 66% drops and will not return to the same level until eight years later. Do I gamble that my school will retain me despite my salary and risk being released in order to provide health care for my family? What about just paying the bills, not to mention paying for college? And this is the way Ohio thanks teachers for their service! I’m a good teacher who can make a difference, but have been rejected by shortsighted legislation.

    Don’t think that this is an exceptional hard luck case either. I work for a wealthy school district with a good record of supporting its schools and despite this fact I’ll be broken financially. What do you think will happen to educators in poorer school districts? Who do you think will do this kind of job in the future?

    This is shameful! I don’t know how the state thinks they will keep or recruit bright educators. How do we expect to compete in a global economy when we put such low priority toward educating our youth? I did nothing to deserve such drastic changes caused by a financial crisis created by institutions like Lehman Brothers for which the governor did work for during the crisis. The penalties are not congruent with the causes. Teachers who shouldered voluntary cuts to help their districts now are forced to pay the bill while the governor gains political advantage. This is wrong no matter your political party affiliations!

    My story is one of thousands that will be played out over the next few years. I pray that legislators do the right thing and vote how they would like to be treated if you were in their constituent’s shoes.

    Scott Yant

    • geffe

      Thank you Scott for telling your story.
      I suspect this is the truth for most teachers in most states.
      As the son of a NY City retired special ed school councilor I know how hard she worked. The attack on teachers in this nation is disgusting and shameful.

    • William

      I grew up in a “union town” (Akron) and left years ago because I saw the handwriting on the wall for that area and Ohio. The unions and Democrats just would not recognize the times have changed and still thought they could get anything they wanted. The tax base has shrunk and companies have left Ohio because of high cost union labor.

      • Joe Hill

        You mean companies left Ohio to get cheap labor overseas. It’s not the unions’ fault! Workers are entitled to better pay and benefits, aren’t they? Aren’t YOU? The unions made many, many concessions, and still the companies left. This was while the rich was getting the great tax breaks that were supposed to be creating more jobs! So where are the jobs now? Overseas, where there are no unions, just people working to afford a bowl of rice or a piece of bread. That’s where we’re headed with no unions. That’s what it used to be like here, before there were unions. Did you never hear of the “Bread and Roses” marchers? Basic bread is fine, but NOT enough. Not while Wall Street wines and dines itself while American families are going hungry and homeless. Did you see “60Minutes” last Sunday?–the poor kids living in hotel rooms because the parents are out of jobs? These are the kids our public school teachers try to teach–kids who haven’t slept well, who are hungry and homeless. And you blame the teachers and the unions. Unreal.

  • Beverly

    Since Walker’s plan is unconstitutional, (to say nothing about how devious he is), maybe it’s legal to throw him out now, instead of having to wait a year.

    ?

    • Anonymous

      Rights are not bestowed legislatively. The Wisconsin legislature created a statute that permitted collective bargaining for, in this case, publicly-funded employees. See, “collective bargaining rights” is an invented term used by unions and their supporters.

      Public employees are at the sad end of a deplorable very long con. The Ponzi scheme of “Hot Potato” (sorry, mixed metaphores) has been shut down. Someone must pay the piper and you can’t pay people with money that is just fairy dust.

      You don’t know devious until you see how the unions work to protect their automatic dues deductions. They call it a right to get you all indignant and up in arms. Silly, when you think about it. How could it be a right? Just for public employees? Really. What passes for thinking out here!

    • Anonymous

      Exactly how is it unconstitutional to change the law?

    • William

      I’m glad Gov. Walker is standing up for working class families in WI.

    • new civility

      You’re a joke Bev…move to Denmark and send us a card.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

    I commend you on your efforts; however, the problem is that there are plenty of other crappy teachers out there that do milk the system already. A teacher like you should be rewarded but the crappy teachers have taken your rewards away.

  • Paloma94

    People keep saying that by having employees pay union dues, they are funding the Democratic party. This is not true. The employees are being paid a wage and they choose to spend that wage on union dues. The money is theirs to spend, not the taxpayers.

    • Anonymous

      You are obviously not in a union. If you were, you would know that your union leaders choose who and how much of the union dues they wish to give to candidates or parties. If you don’t agree with their decision, touch luck, you can’t have your dues back or change where they go. Is this the freedom you are talking about?

      • Joe Hill

        Taxpayers don’t get much of a say in deciding which corporations get the contracts or tax breaks vs. other busineses. For example, when the Banks-Too-Big-To-Fail banded together, they got their bailouts. If, as a laid-off worker, you don’t agree with that decision, tough luck, you can’t get your taxes back, or your bank and credit card fees back, or your job back. Rather than attack unions, attack campaign finance laws. Unions are trying to protect middle class families. If they don’t, who will?

        • Anonymous

          So you think the middle class who works for the Federal and state government needs protected from out government? If so why don’t you fight for federal government workers to have the same Union rights as what the Wisconsin governor wants to cut the state worker to? (they have less right now)

          You should really think that one through. Do taxpayers need to unionize to get fair representation with our federal government also?

      • BFann

        Everybody seems to not be made aware of the fact that union members aren’t forced to join a union (Taft-Hartly Act 1946). They are however, if they choose to abstain, still required to pay their fair share of any contract, that was paid for and negotiated for by they’re fellow worker. Whether a member or not the employee still receives, by law, all of the benefits from that contract including costly representation in the workplace if they have a legitimate grievance. (What RTW legislation, which we have heard a lot of these days, does is say that an abstaining member wont have to pay a dime for what is negotiated for him or her but still will receive ALL of the benefits, because it is in federal law other people have paid their fair share for. The concept is as preposterous as me saying that I will choose to not pay my state taxes but still would like my roads fixed and so on and so on…) all of the benefits It is also worth being said that by federal law only 1% of dues money can go towards political action and cannot be used to directly fund any candidate. Any moneys that are shown as donations from the unions are all done by the member ON TOP of their dues because he or she may feel strongly for the candidate.

        • Anonymous

          In a free world, I could take any job I want without paying union dues or having the union represent me in any way without my written permission.

          Did you know that the unions were the ones that made this impossible since they know that a company would pay a non union worker more than an equal union counterpart because the worker is easier to work with and is a good enough worker that they can stand on the their own, to do a good job.

  • Rob (in NY)

    Jim, I disagree to some extent. The great businessman and entrepreneurs throughout US history (e.g. Henry Ford, Walt Disney Rockefeller, Gates, Jobs, and countless others etc….) all created demand to a certain degree with a product or service that improved business’ and people’s lives or made their jobs easier. This does create a certain degree of “creative destruction” in various industries over the short term, but in the long term it frees up labor to be used more productively. All of these businessman also had the intelligence and foresight to realize producing great products and services also requires the efforts of great employees, who could afford their products/services.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harley-Brix/100001079643553 Harley Brix

      You hit the nail with the hammer my friend. Great employees need to be rewarded for being great and poor employees should be let go. It should be any different for teachers but the union has taken away our ability to recruit and employee great teachers. Those great teachers that still keep working as teachers are angels as far as I’m concerned.

      • Teddie Mower

        Not really Harley. Those that would be good teachers aren’t going into the profession because there is little incentive any more. There are still some bright eyed idealists with content background that begin the application process but, especially with recent events, we don’t see many coming back. The hours are much longer than they used to be, the benefits and pay aren’t very good, there is no
        “expense account” for supplies and required professional development, and the constant comments about bad teachers don’t encourage good teachers to stay. Add that to poor mentoring, irate and ignorant parents and community members that think they know more about teaching than teachers…and did I mention the bullies that feel free to attack the system because they are taxpayers. (I might add that all educators are taxpayers too). The teachers unions are very weak…look at how long teachers go without contracts and how much money they make.

        Perhaps we should all give up on educating all Americans and just go back to educating those that have the money and are willing to put in the time. It would destroy our democracy but we have very little of that left.

  • Rob (in NY)

    Beverly, please cite the legal basis for your claim that Gov. Walker’s proposal is unconstutional under either federal or WI state law. The right for state to workers in WI to bargain collectively was granted by WI’s legislature in the late 1950s. This right is based on the actions of WI legislature, rather than the US or WI constitution. If this were a constitutional right, Gov. Walker’s actions would not be relevant because nether a Governor, nor a Legislature can revoke constitutional rights.

    WI’s law regarding recall elections is quite clea that a recall election can not occur in the first year. “The number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 25% of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of governor within the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled.” Good luck getting the required amount of signatories.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/08/134340952/recall-efforts-in-wisconsin-face-tough-odds

    http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Laws_governing_recall_in_Wisconsin

  • Markus

    Unions forcing members to pay dues that contribute to legislators who negotiate their benefits. Hard to find a clearer conflict of interest. That companies who get bailed out by the government are allowed to spend on campaigns is a weak defense for letting unions do so. I’m against both.

    The NY Times survey that came out so well for collective bargaining should be an embarrassment for the NYT. Sample was less than a thousand people. The numbers were close to 25% of respondents had a union member in their family unit and 22% had a public employee in their family unit. Doesn’t say much for the NYT that they’re not pointing this out (but it does say a lot about their bias).

    People like myself don’t mind union members getting great benefits, we mind being forced to pay for it. If GM caves in to the union, we can buy from Toyota. Don’t have that flexibility with government.

    And then there’s what I can see. Teacher’s who’ve checked out but the principal admitted she couldn’t do anything about them. Cops guarding holes in the street that are behind barricades or on disability while on ski vacations. Professors at state colleges working less than 15 hours per week. The sainted firefighters demanding compensation for being drug tested and running real estate businesses full time while being firefighters full time (and scamming sick benefits). When this abuse is rampant in the private sector, the company goes out of business. In the public sector, our taxes go up.

    And it’s instructive that so much of the defense of unions is that others are bad too or that at one time unions were good.

    • Anonymous

      Union workers WORK for their pay, which you, as a taxpayer, pay a portion of (Though you pay far more for undeclared wars…)!

      From their pay, union dues are deducted, if they are in a union.
      Just like you can do what you want with YOUR pay that you WORKED for, so can a member of a union

      So, you do not pay for dues or for a portion of those dues going to enlist the support of members to elect pro-worker candidates.

      However, your government representatives whom you elect, DO garner monies from corporations outright…the top to the top…and it is certainly clear that THAT kind of influence (wink wink) is WAY more powerful than what the union dues can do.

      The power of the unions is in the political work they do on the ground, during their own time, to inform and get out the vote.

      You also need to ask yourself: Why, if people like the Koch Bros and Gov. Walker, are such swell employers, do people fear the loss of collective bargaining? Most unions have to continuously fight petty and political power-arrogant administrations/bosses. Top companies who do not have unions DO NOT NEED THEM because their employees know their companies value them, to the core.

      Until the Scott Walker and Chris Christie (s) of the world get voted out, unions are their check and balance. On Wisconsin!

      • Markus

        Why do they fear the loss of collective bargaining? Easy question. My guess from just the ones I’ve known is they don’t like their chances if they have to compete with others. If you’re going to take 30 sick days a year plus put in 5 hour days, and someone else is willing to work harder, you need protection. If you’re not the brightest bulb on the tree, but want to get the perks that go with higher status (e.g. lucrative cop details where you sit in your car for an hour and get paid for 4) you’d better have a collective bargaining agreement that confers status simply for the time you’ve put in. If you’re an incompetent teacher in NYC (one of several thousand according to the NYT) who’s not fit to teach, but can’t be fired, you’d better have a collective bargaining agreement to make sure that taxpayers pay you to not teach all day.

        But the problem I have is not that they take advantage of the situation (well, ok it bugs me a little). But it’s more that they force others to pay for it through taxes and a government that relies on them for votes.

      • Rob (in NY)

        “Until the Scott Walker and Chris Christie (s) of the world get voted out, unions are their check and balance. On Wisconsin!”

        It is inaccurate to equate Christie’s positions with those of Scott Walker. Chris Christie did not propose any changes to collective bargaining laws. Christie simply adopted a much harder negotiating line with NJ unions than did his predecessors, who effectively gave the public sector unions the keys to the statehouse. Christie predecessors, including Corzine, McGreevy, and Whitman were all political beneficiaries of a long running bull market and choose to ignore pension funding problems, whereas Christie was forced to confront this issue whether he wanted to or not.

  • J. Mezure Carter

    I thought that paying union dues for political purposes was resolved by the Roberts court in 2009 (YSURSA v. POCATELLO ED. ASSN.). As for poor teachers with seniority, there are plenty of ways to rid them of their duties. But the union argument begs the question. How do we handle public education? Will charter schools and other special facilities solve our dilemma? Let us look at one viable solution. First, bring the children home. You might ask, who would teach them and what would they learn? Reeducate the parents or a parent to do what humans have done for thousands of years, teach their own children. Now this might sound silly, but if we take into consideration the physical plant cost alone, we could save hundreds of billions of dollars. But then you might ask, how would they be trained in all the areas that they need to know in order to become a part of the American work force? Well do they get those skills in K-6th grade? No! So how would a home schooled child get those skills? In the past and even today there are a myriad of ways that this could be accomplished. All one needs to do is look around and see the availability of these institutions. I truly believe that the proliferation of on-line courses at the higher education level is a prelude to the coming of a massive move to home schooling especially at the lower levels. Look at all this hassle that we’re going through when the answer that we need is staring us in the face, the computer screen.

    • Teddie Mower

      Interesting idea. Unfortunately, those that would take the jobs to oversee and write the course would demand to be paid. Right now many of us are forced into distance learning even though it isn’t always the best way to communicate and is far more costly in terms of time taken away from research. I do think that there is a place for distance learning – especially at the community college level. We have already eroded education by dumbing it down to meet the needs of those who can’t do the work. On the other end, we have lost many of the great teachers and academics to better paying jobs. You get what you pay for – and there is no better time to show this in our international rankings. Many science professors laugh that their students make as much as they do as soon as they get out of school. They aren’t laughing anymore. They are either moving out or retiring.

    • Teddie Mower

      Interesting idea. Unfortunately, those that would take the jobs to oversee and write the course would demand to be paid. Right now many of us are forced into distance learning even though it isn’t always the best way to communicate and is far more costly in terms of time taken away from research. I do think that there is a place for distance learning – especially at the community college level. We have already eroded education by dumbing it down to meet the needs of those who can’t do the work. On the other end, we have lost many of the great teachers and academics to better paying jobs. You get what you pay for – and there is no better time to show this in our international rankings. Many science professors laugh that their students make as much as they do as soon as they get out of school. They aren’t laughing anymore. They are either moving out or retiring.

    • Joe Hill

      You are assuming that everybody in the USA has access to the internet at home. FALSE! Lots of people in the USA lack even a computer. IF they have a computer, they might not be able to afford dial-up or a cable or wireless hookup, since the monthly charges are high for many, many families. If it breaks or gets a virus, they can’t afford to get it fixed. They also can’t get mcuh access much at their public libraries, which are closing in many areas. If the libraries aren’t closed, the computers are on timers, so everybody gets a short chance to use the few available. So how would all these kids get distance learning? And who will make the kids sit at the computer to learn math while their parents are out working or trying to find a job? A great teacher can teach more children in more individualized ways than a computer. A computer is for visual learners. You can add audio for the aural learners, but you’ll still miss the kinesthetic learners. And what about the dyslexic and other kids with difficulty reading from screens? Real teachers can teach children with a variety of learning needs. Public school teachers work very hard and do a great job. Sure, as in any profession, there are a few who are burnt out, are incompetent, or both. But to attack teachers’ unions for the few bad apples that exist in all professions is absurd.

      • J. Mezure Carter

        Joe if you recall my suggestion, I see home schooling as one viable solution, not a panacea. In America, public education began its journey during the industrial revolution and it served those industrialist well. But what about the current situation? I understand your misgivings about my statements, especially in light of the Wisconsin debacle and during a crisis it is often difficult to see beyond the current events. Yet I ask you to look at some alternatives that will ease the burdens of public education. Home schooling can be one of those alternatives. I say this as a teacher who has been teaching in a classroom setting for forty years. I say this as a member of the United University Professor of New York State. I don’t see my profession as sacrosanct. I understand the complications of system that grows ad hoc in response to our society’s needs. It takes patience and imagination to solve problems, not epithets and rancor.

  • TomK in Boston

    I love how the corporate media, esp faux news, treat the contracts of the upper classes vs everyone else. Say some incompetent privileged Bozo, who got an important job because he had the right parents, went to the right schools, and has the right friends, is forced out after he screws up, and gets a $10 million or $100 million payoff. All we hear about is the sacredness of contracts. “Yes, it’s unfortunate, but my old roommate Bozo had a contract, and a contract is a contract….”

    However, when working stiffs have a contract that their lordships want to break, all we hear about is the necessity of sacrifice and a fave voodoo word, “unsustainable”. Has anyone ever heard “a contract is a contract” when it’s ordinary Americans money on the table? Anyone? Hello? I guess not.

    It would be great to start hearing about “sacrifices” and “hard choices” in discussing Bozo’s parachute, and “a contract is a contract” in discussing the wages of those who do the dirty work.

    • Anonymous

      Since you are in favor of “a contract is a contract” I assume you were as appalled by the GM bailout that not only broke contracts, but broke the law by reversing the order and payout amounts of who got paid by the bankrupt company.

  • Teddie Mower

    Isn’t it interesting that in 2001 the firefighters and police were recognized as unsung heroes and now they are a burden to taxpayers? Teachers have seen diminishing respect for far longer along with increased accountability, numbers of students, hours outside school, paperwork and “teacher proofing curriculum” developing by those that have never been in the classroom. For this they have also seen a decrease in pay and benefits.

    The only opportunity America has to become strong again is through education. And yet, we are so willing to destroy the system. Tax payers benefit more than they will ever realize from the system. Perhaps it IS time for teachers to band together and professionalize. When the public would prefer to build and support prisons, it is time to move away from public funds. Unfortunately, that means not offering education for all – only those that can afford it – like physicians. Pay could reflect Masters degrees in other disciplines which is much higher than current wages. Private interests would try to gain a foothold but no more than happens right now. If fact, a persons credentials would quickly reflect their training and whole regions that choose not to “believe” in science, let’s say, would just not be able to participate in science decision-making and careers.

    I can see education costs spiraling out of control, like the health care system, but from my vantage point maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Maybe like the “life or death” mantra used to increase costs in the health care the “opportunity to participate in intellectual society (including medicine) or not” would be valued equally.

    My musings while interesting always comes back to, “is that really the right thing to do?” And, in American it is not right. This would destroy the last component of democracy…equal opportunity to pursue a better life.

    • new civility

      Nice canard, Teddy..the truth is America will become strong again through J_O_B_S….Obama..where are the jobs?

  • swestnedge

    I find tremendous fault with the argument that “collective bargaining” is the cause of this economic crisis. For many years, state budgets have worked with unions and collective bargaining. So what’s changed? A steep decline in revenue, that’s the cause of the state budget crisis. Unions already made financial concessions. So wouldn’t it make more sense to raise revenue by taxing the rich instead of kicking some poor kids teacher to the curb?

  • Emjaydee

    Tom,
    The problem as a Democrat vs Republican, Union vs Non Union is misleading.
    I feel this misses the point. On the National level the Conservative Jihad is riding rough shod over the American working class. Fuelling anger from those that have not against those that have.
    When was it so wrong to have decent job? Health Benefits? A Pension?
    On a State level, Scott WAlker wants the power to strip the middle class of their power, giving it solely to him. He also wants his grubby litle hands on the pension. This is really his ultimate goal.
    From day one Mr. Walker has been intransigent over negotiating. He has admitted to pulling dirty tricks on the Democrats to get them back. And he has blatantly lied about it. All he wants is to somehow trick them back so he can smash them. There is no bargaining with him. And he will pull any dirty trick he can. Charging them a daily fee; having the sheriffs try to find them to take them back by force if neccessary ( wonder how much that cost Wisconsin? ) Putting their checks in their desks.
    Walker is a thug. The Republicans have declared war on the middle class and the Democrats have done nothing to stop them. Both Parties have shown their contempt for the poor.
    Michael

    • William

      Don’t you think President Obama set the tone when he told the Repbulicans “I won, get used to it” and refused to meet with them for over a year?

  • Mad In Wisconsin

    The political pendulum has been swinging further and further with each election cycle; Governor Walker and his followers have pushed it as far to the right as it may be able to go. When it swings back, it will be furious – unfortunately the right has set a political tone that the left must now take up. His actions are equivalent to what would have occurred at the national level had the President rammed through a single payer health care system while his party had the congress – imagine how the Republican minority would have responded then! The Governor and the Republican senators and representatives must anticipate a serious electoral response.

    I have never been a great fan of unions; I was forced to join as a laborer in my younger days, and found the union more overbearing than any employer I’d had. But ever since the Citizens United decision equated corporate influence with that of unions in the political process, the need for union power as a counterweight to corporate dominance has been painfully clear. Is the stage set for class warfare? The mood here (in Wisconsin) among people across the political spectrum is that it is nearing inevitability, at least at the municipal level where the true pain of Governor Walker’s methods will be felt.

  • roz

    I’m curious about why the 2005 ballot propositions that Governor Schwarzenegger put up to reduce union power in California are not being mentioned as a precedent for what’s happening today. In his attempt, Schwarzenegger ended up uniting the public unions and rejuvenating the broader union movement. You could even argue that Scott Walker learned from what happened in California and chose not to include the police and firefighters in his attacks, thereby neutralizing their opposition in in Wisconsin.

    • Kathy

      He did not however neutralize them…firefighters and police have joined public sector unions and have supported them in a very big way; they are roundly “thanked” every time they show up to rally – their presence has been DAILY and they have stood in solidarity with other union employees.

  • Nathalie in Brooklyn

    If there is one thing I hope comes out of the debate over public sector workers, it is that America finally tackles the bigger question of fairness in worker compensation both in the public and private sectors. That the minimum wage in many states doesn’t go over $8 per hour while Wall Street CEOs are getting paid 400 times that and more in bonuses should be part of this conversation. This is a watershed moment for organized labor; the will only prevail and “win hearts and minds” if they make clear that organized labor is not about saving wages and pensions for themselves, but fighting for EVERYONE to have decent wages and pensions. It seems right now that the conversation is being framed around private sector workers “resenting” the salaries and pensions of public sector workers. I don’t believe people are in essence driven by resentment, jealousy, and hate. Organized labor must effectively turned the conversation around about how we can lift all boats up and not emphasize the attitude that we should all “go down together.”

  • Weuclide

    There are a number of issues that have been ignored in this Wisconsin issue. One Walker said it is a budget issue, if it really was a budget issue, why only require concessions from a few public employee unions and why only from the ones that opposed Walker? Second if it is a budget thing, why are not the politicians cutting their salaries, and paying more for their health care and retirement? Walker is blaming public employees for the state deficit, but does not mention that the teachers have had QEO caps on their total contract compensations for years and these debts started with a republican governor years ago. Third, Walker does not explain that he is going to have a surplus this budget year and the big problem is the cost of his tax cuts for the rich that need to be funded by someone, probably the public employees and poor, if he has his way.
    This has nothing to do with the state budget, it has everything to do with crushing those that opposed him!

  • Rob (in NY)

    Whether they want to admit it or not, all union members who either collect a pension (or have a pension benefit that vests in the future) have a direct financial interest in the success of corporate America. Your union pension funds hold some combination of US equities, corporate bonds, foreign equities, private equity, venture capital, US Treasury debt, and municipal bonds. I would be careful what you ask for with comments wishing ill on corporate America, such as the “need to reign in corporate profits”, etc….. Without good corporate profits leading to a strong stock market over time, there is an increased risk of pension funding problems and even and a higher default risk on pension obligations.

    The bottom line is that many state and local government officials made very aggressive assumptions regarding both expected future returns and liabilities. The strong bull markets of the 1980s,1990s and the recovery of 2003-7 allowed many states to mask pension funding problems. While I do not believe that any rational person would blame the financial crisis on teachers or other public workers, neither would any rational person argue that state and local governments have a permanent right to continue living off bloated tax revenues that were were largely financed by a temporary Wall Street boom gone gust.

    • TomK in Boston

      Fine, but reasonable regulation and a prosperous middle class leads to the best environment for corporations. Henry Ford knew that his workers needed to be paid enough to buy his cars, and extreme deregulation of the financial sector led to the financial crash, which was very bad for corporate profits. Continued deregulation and a continued race to the bottom in wages benefits only a few aristocrats.

  • Laura Negronida

    I’d like to see some national coverage and conversation about all the other parts of the “Budget Repair Bill” in Wisconsin (not just the busting of public employee unions). The entire bill is a disaster for our state! If the rest of the nation wants to see what’s next for them from the Tea Party Republicans and others supported by the likes of the Koch Brothers, they would do well to read this bill in its entirety (or talk to someone from Wisconsin who has). This is about so much more than unions. It’s about privatizing utilities, decimating our educational system, turning us into uneducated wage slaves, making sure that the working poor are even poorer, and on, and on.

    Please give voice to this.

    • TomK in Boston

      …to say nothing of the fact that the deficit was largely created by walker’s corporate tax breaks. Creating a deficit with tax cuts and fixing it by the sorts of thing you mention is a primary class warfare tactic.

  • Roger

    Unions negoitating with the turnstile of elected officials defies common sense.

    The only way the unions for public employees make any sense would be if salary and benefits are approved directly by the electorate!

  • Sue

    As a WI teacher, I was leaving work tonight at 6:45 pm (an EARLY night for me) when I tuned into On Point. I want to make 2 simple observations.
    1) What is happening in WI is not at all comparable to Obama’s health bill. Walker unveiled the first 1/2 of his bill on a Friday and wanted to take a vote on the following Thursday. The “Fab 14″ Dems fled the state because they saw no other option for discussion or negotiation.
    2) Of the 100′s of teachers I know, I have not heard 1 person express concern about paying into ins and pension. What I have heard is concern about future student performance in classrooms of 30 or more students, especially in Kindergarten and the other early grades.

  • Stephensnyder

    Tom, I’d like to comment on the gentleman from the Wall Street Journal’s claim that tax payer money is used when unions lobby the legislature. When anyone is paid, by the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, the local fire department or school system, the money no longer belongs to the payer. The money belongs to the payee. So the claim that tax payers are lobbying the legislature is a fallacious one this needs to be brought to light. The union takes the workers money as dues, and that is the worker’s money, not the tax payers.

    • Lawson_groth

      In agreement with Stephensyner, I’ll add: If it’s taxpayer dollars that go to lobbying Democrats, then every tax deduction that a corporation can claim should be looked at as taxpayer money being used to lobby Republicans. There are plenty of corporations that paid ZERO income tax – that’s a lot of money that can (and does) go to lobbying Republicans.

    • loyal_listener1

      Stephen, I’m so glad you didn’t let that comment slide about taxpayer money financing unions. I certainly hope that wages paid to a worker actually BELONG to that worker, and can be spent on food or shelter or anything the worker chooses.

  • NickM

    Commence the layoffs.
    All these public workers have been off the job protesting and no one even notices they’re gone. Tells you they’re not needed in the first place!
    Their high wages and benefits are killing the middle class in Wisconsin. We cannot afford more taxes to support their excesses.

    • Beverly

      No one notices they’re gone? Apparently
      you did.

    • hassler

      Trollville is down the street.

  • Jerre Stonecipher

    I understand that many of these unions have accepted smaller pay raises and excepted better retirement medical coverage. If so don’t government officials have a fiduciary responsibility to set up a way to pay for those benefits? If they don’t should they lose their benefits?

    • spelling police

      accepted is the word you should have used

  • Rass

    1) Walker won his election with 26% of eligible voters, because 49.7 eligible voters took to the polls..this is shameful, yes. The republicans hold the majority in both the senate and assembly; these races were often VERY CLOSE (148 votes in a district near the Milwaukee area). The governor has insisted that he speaks for the “silent majority”; for Walker and majority leaders to claim a mandate is farsical based on these numbers, nor did he run on a platform for what he proposed.

    2) the #2 contributor to Gov. Walker’s campaign came from the billionaire Koch brothers (thanks for bringing this into the picture on the interview) – 1.67 million directly/indirectly thru pacs and supported associations. What did this buy them? Access perhaps to no bid contracts on WI utility plants (page 24 of budget repair bill) ; certainly a direct line to Governor Walker’s phone (infamous conversation with “David Koch” so appalling, yet revealing, it makes one cringe – hear it on you tube).

    Our governor appears no more than a puppet for his contributors. And Wisconsin residents – whether you are union, non-union, middle class, working poor, REPUBLICAN, democrat, independent, libertarian, green party – all stand to loose.

    It is a power grab (hence Walker won’t negotiate on his need to castrate collective bargaining, this in the guise of “budget crisis”), supported by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling, and it sets up our democracy to fail.

    • William

      I think the Koch brothers donated 46k. How much did the unions donate to their pick?

      Those Senators that ran away are not doing the bidding of the unions?

      Did the recent move by the unions to drop their lawsuit to get Viagra covered under their health care plan violate the “rights” of the union members that still want that drug?

      • Anonymous

        And the Republicans in the House refusing to fund the duly passed health care reform bill are doing exactly what?

  • La78213

    Yet another discussion of the Wisconsin stalemate and yet again labor is not represented. To recap, the guests included rightwing hack, james Taranto and John Harwood, formerly a rightwing WSJ columnist. The question is where were the labor spokesman? Given the presence of James Taranto, the obvious choice would have been “journalist” Michael Moore.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Within one minute of coming on the air, Mr. Taranto accused public unions and state legislatures of both “collusion” and “stealing”, and Mr. Ashbrooke said nothing, not a question, not a comment, nothing. I’m not sure what Mr. Ashbrooke’s role is supposed to be, but if it has anything remotely to do with brokering reasonable discussions, then he’s not doing his job. Allowing these sorts of comments from someone who is supposed to be offering a reasoned viewpoint is beyond the pale. Please Mr. Ashbrooke, do you job or give it up to someone who will.

  • geffe

    It’s over the repugnant republican of Wisconsin have found a way to deny the unions of their right to collectively bargain. I heard today that there may be a call for a general strike across the whole state of Wisconsin. Walker can’t fire every state worker.

    I found this on Robert Reich’s blog.

    The Principles of the People’s Party

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    The following was sent to me by someone in Madison, Wisconsin, who found it in the Capitol building last week. It was obviously written in a hurry, and it carries the label “first draft.”

    It’s emerging from the heartland – from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa — and it is spreading across the nation. It doesn’t have a formal organization or Washington lobbyists beyond it, but it’s gaining strength nonetheless. Like the Tea Party did with Republicans in 2010, the People’s Party will pressure Democrats in primaries and general elections leading up to 2012 and beyond to have the courage of the party’s core convictions. But unlike the Tea Party, which has been coopted by the super-rich, the People’s Party represents the needs and aspirations of America’s vast working middle class, along with the less fortunate.

    The People’s Party is dedicated to the truth that America is a rich nation – richer by far than any other, richer than it’s ever been. The People’s Party rejects the claims of plutocrats who want us to believe we can no longer afford to live decently – who are cutting the wages and benefits of most people, attacking unions, and squeezing public budgets. The People’s Party will not allow them to turn us against one another – unionized against non-unionized, public employee against private employee, immigrant against native born. Nor will the People’s Party allow the privileged and powerful to distract us from the explosive concentration of income and wealth at the top, the decline in taxes paid by the top, and their increasing and untrammeled political power.

    We have joined together to reverse these trends and to promote a working people’s bill of rights. We are committed to:

    1. Increasing the pay and bargaining power of average working people. We’ll stop efforts to destroy unions and collective bargaining rights. Protect workers who try to form unions from being fired. Make it easier for workers to form unions through simple up-or-down votes at the workplace.

    2. Requiring America’s super-rich to pay their fair share. Increase top marginal tax rates and the number of tax brackets at the top. Treat income from capital gains the same as ordinary income. Restore the estate tax. Revoke the citizenship of anyone found to be sheltering income abroad.

    3. Protecting and expanding government programs vital to the working middle class and the poor. These include Social Security, K-12 education, Pell Grants for disadvantaged students, public transportation, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    4. Ending corporate welfare and cutting military outlays. Trim defense spending. End special tax subsidies for specific corporations or industries – at both state and federal levels. Cut agricultural subsidies.

    5. Saving Social Security while making it more progressive. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security taxes. Make up the difference – and any need for additional Social Security revenues – by raising the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

    6. Ending Wall Street’s dominance of the economy and preventing any future taxpayer-funded bailout. Break up Wall Street’s largest banks and put a cap their size. Link pay on the Street to long-term profits rather than short-term speculation. Subject all financial transactions to a one-tenth of one percent transactions tax.

    7. Fully enforcing regulations that protect workers, consumers, small investors, and the environment. Raise penalties on corporations that violate them. Expand enforcement staffs. Provide more private rights of action.

    8. Providing affordable health care to all Americans. The new health law isn’t enough. We’ll fight for a single payer – making Medicare available to all. End fee-for-service and create “accountable-care” organizations that focus on healthy outcomes.

    9. Slowing and eventually reversing climate change. We’ll fight to limit carbon emissions. Impose a ceiling on emissions or a carbon tax on polluters. Return the revenues from these to the American people, in the form of tax cuts for the working middle class.

    10. Getting big money out of politics. We’ll fight to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overrule Citizens United v. FEC. Require full disclosure of all contributions for or against any candidate. Provide full public financing for all presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative candidates in all general elections.

    • Willaim

      Gov. Walker is just doing what RFK did a generation ago when he cleaned up the Teamsters Union. Many union members in WI and across the nation have longed complained about having to join a union to get a job, forced to pay union dues, corrupt union bosses, union dues going only supporting Democrat Party, etc.. I applaud the Gov. of WI for taking on the hard fight and making WI a better place for families, non-union and union workers alike. He is setting an excellent example for the children of WI and across America.

      • geffe

        First off I’m sick and tired of people like you posting misinformation about unions. The union dues do not go towards any political parties. That’s called a PAC. If you don’t know what that is look it up because you are so misinformed it’s dangerous.

  • Gail

    We are all living in a corporate colonization of the U.S., which has been aided by thousands of politicians at all levels of government for many years.

    Taking the money out of politics is a necessity along with a democracy movement with citizen involvement.

    • Anonymous

      Gail,

      We are a republic and we always will be. Our founders noticed that democracies have never been a stable government for long periods of time. The American experiment has been an awesome success up until the last 6 years.

      • geffe

        You live in a fantasy land.

      • Gail

        Brandstand,

        Yes, we are a republic but our founding fathers envisioned a government of the people, by the people, for the people – that is what a democracy movement is about – not a government of the corporation, by the corporation, nor for the corporation.

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to look at these Democrats as anything but sore losers – nobody wanted Obamacare either, but had to sit and take it because Dems had control. Republicans showed up to work, argued and voted against it. These guys are acting like a bunch of 2 year olds who don’t want to eat their peas. Serves them right for abandoning the state for 3 weeks. The bill now heads to the state assembly for approval.

    • puzzled

      Hyperbole alert. I wanted Obama’s healthcare plan as did others in my family. So please don’t say no one wanted it when you mean no one you know, or no one on Fox news wanted it. There were many,many people of all walks of life who desperately wanted it. As to your other point (tyranny of the majority according to de Toqueville) I think most of us understand that in a large democracy we can’t help but roll over everyone’s wishes once or twice. The scary thing to me is that conservatives (the GOP?) have a propaganda machine more sophisticated than most liberals can probably comprehend. They have all the psychology fine tuned to influence the masses using fear and half truths. In my own experience I can tell you that my parents were lifelong Republicans and quite conservative. My father especially thought there should be no government programs except the military. Surprise, at the end of his life, he was confined to a wheel chair. He would often complain about the problems he had getting himself around. He never would admit that those ramps would never have been built by the free market. The other thing my parents faced was poverty in their old age. They had worked hard all their lives, but never amassed a fortune (which very few of us do). They had a little more than would qualify them for government programs, but not nearly enough to h ave a comfortable and worry free old age. Why they and millions of others just like them would support a party line from which they were never going to benefit from escapes me. I know I rambled. Sorry

      • geffe

        This guy is the king of hyperbole. I know I respond to his diatribes but it’s really a waste of time. People like Brandstad are not interested in the truth, they just want their world view reinforced.

        • geffe

          He probably wears a flag pin in his lapel as well. Patriotism is the last vestige of a scoundrel.

    • geffe

      I know a lot of people who like Obama’s health care plan. So you’re not only wrong you are living in a bubble.

      I want single payer myself and I don’t like Obama’s plan at all.

      By the way the plan is almost identical to the republican plan from the 90′s. You are one misinformed chap.

  • geffe

    I call this what it is. Union busting. Period Walker and his extremist right wingers are not interested in the budget. They severing the financial part of the bill they made it clear to me it’s not about the state budget. That’s clear as the sky in Wisconsin on crisp winter day.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

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This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, right, speaks with Ady Barkan of the Center for Popular Democracy as she arrives for a dinner during the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyo. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.  (AP)

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On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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