05.30.2012 0

Tuesday, June 5: High noon for unions in Wisconsin

By Rick Manning — Tuesday, June 5 is the day of reckoning for the nation’s labor movement.  After more than a year of state legislative walkouts by Democratic state Senators, non-stop recalls and political shenanigans, the Wisconsin voters will decide whether to replace Governor Scott Walker with Big Labor favorite Tom Barrett in another recall election.

Labor is expected to spend more than $7 million on the recall of Walker alone after dumping almost $15 million into the failed efforts to defeat legislation reining in public employee costs.

The long running battle is centered around legislation championed by Governor Walker and passed into law by the state legislature that changed the relationship between most public employees (fire and police were exempted) and government in the state.  The changes included:

  • Limiting state employees from being able to collectively bargain anything except wages, effectively keeping pensions and health care political giveaways off the bargaining table;
  • Providing public employees with an annual vote on whether to keep their public employee union;
  • Requiring state employees to contribute half of the cost of their pension payments;
  • Requiring state employees to cover 12 percent of their health care premiums;
  • Capping wage increases to the rate of inflation with additional raises requiring popular approval through a referendum; and
  • Prohibiting state agencies from collecting union dues.

To roll back the changes, Big Labor has gone all in, and the nation is watching.

If Governor Walker survives the tantrum, it will signal to governors across the nation that they can fix their states public employee union created fiscal woes and the taxpayers will back them.

And that spells disaster for the power of public employee unions nationwide, which is why they are all-in in Wisconsin.

And that is why Big Labor appears to be facing an unprecedented political disaster, in danger of being relegated to the role of the bully who gets punched in the nose and cannot back up its talk.

The latest polls indicate that Governor Walker is well-positioned to win the union induced June 5 recall as he has as much as a 12 point lead.  But as anyone who has paid attention to election polling knows, elections are decided by who actually votes, and this is particularly true for a special election.

That is why the nation should turn their eyes to this relatively obscure statewide election in a state which in spite of its rich political history is more known for cheese and the Green Bay Packers.

The showdown in Wisconsin will determine the willingness of politicians across the nation to undue budget strapping public employee deals.  It will determine whether elected lawmakers will be bound to raise taxes due to political giveaways their predecessors have provided public employee union supporters.  It will determine whether elected officials will be able to rein in the size and scope of government over the objections of those who are supposed to be public servants, but instead have become the deadweight noose around the taxpayer’s necks.

Public employees and their unions are not entitled to make taxpayers pay more for excessive benefits schemes negotiated with their political partners who depend upon their funding come election day.

The people of Wisconsin, and of every other state, have a reasonable expectation that politicians, and government employees, will be responsible stewards of their tax dollars, and their vote on Tuesday, June 5 on whether or not to recall Governor Scott Walker will reverberate around the nation.

Wisconsin’s recall election process requires that an opponent be named against the incumbent who is being recalled.  For those interested in learning more about the alternatives and how to contribute to the campaign of their choice, they can be reached at:  Scott Walker (www.scottwalker.org) or his opponent –  Tom Barrett – (http://www.barrettforwisconsin.com/splash).

Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government.

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