02.14.2011 1

Wisconsin Takes On Big Labor

By Adam Bitely –

Wisconsin is yet again leading the way forward for the entire nation. Governor Scott Walker, in a bold and brave step, is making drastic and far reaching changes to the relationship between his state and the government employee unions that represent Wisconsin government employees.

The changes could not come soon enough, as Wisconsin is facing devastating budget shortfalls.

The plan proposed by Governor Walker effects most state and local employees, including teachers. Most local law enforcement and fire fighters will be exempt from his proposal.

The proposal that Governor Walker has put in front of the legislature will greatly limit the role that the government employees’ unions play in Wisconsin. Walker’s plan would:

• Eliminates the ability of state employees to bargain over anything except wages. This excludes benefits and work rules from the bargaining table;
• Makes state & local employees right-to-work;
• Requires an annual vote for unions to remain recognized as workers’ collective bargaining representatives;
• Prohibits state agencies from collecting union dues;
• Requires wage increases above and beyond inflation to be approved by a popular referendum;
• Requires state employees to contribute half of the cost of their pension payments, up from nothing now. This works out to 6 percent of their salaries;
• Requires state employees to cover 12 percent of their healthcare premiums.

In effect, Walker’s plan completely curbs the power of the union — a good first move to get Big Labor’s money sucking tendencies under control.

Of course, Big Labor doesn’t feel good about Walker’s proposal. Reacting to the Governor’s plan, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said, “Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of hard-working Wisconsinites, we need to come up with a balanced approach that looks at shared sacrifice from everyone.”

The statement from Neuenfeldt ignores the fact that the budget shortfall burden is indeed on the backs of hard-working Wisconsinites. After all, the taxpayers in Wisconsin are the ones who pay the bills that the government and the union, rack up.

And why shouldn’t taxpayers have the right to decide if state employees should receive compensation raises that are absurd anywhere else in the marketplace. Governor Walker’s proposal would drastically limit the ability of public sector unions to extort absurd levels of compensation from Wisconsin taxpayers.

If passed, the proposal would also severally limit the ability for the extremely partisan union in playing a major role inside of government. For far too long, the AFL-CIO has been allowed to run around the inner workings of government without check. This proposal would tamp down the role that the left-wing labor group can play in Wisconsin — a move that puts government on a more fair playing field for all Wisconsinites.

States across the nation should be looking at Governor Scott Walker’s plan as a model for their own states. As state budget crises loom from coast to coast drastic changes are needed more than ever. Allowing state budget malfeasance to continue only invites disaster. Wisconsin has set a path forward for states to reign in their out-of-control spending — we can only hope that others are paying attention.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamBitely.

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