Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Workers: On God's Side?

Wisconsin's new governor, right-wing extremist Scott Walker, may be onto something.

No, not his proposal which, as Reuters describes it,

includes limiting state employee wage increases to the rate of inflation unless approved in a voter referendum. Public employees -- other than police, fire, and inspectors -- would lose many bargaining rights and could opt out of paying union dues after current contracts expire, with dues no longer collected automatically.

State workers will have to increase contributions to their pensions to 5.8 percent of salary, and double contributions to health insurance premiums to 12.6 percent of salary. Wisconsin's unfunded pension liability is $252.6 million, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Now, that's a sweet deal. Have your union negotiate your salary and defend you against a disciplinary charge- and not even have to pay anything in return to the organization protecting you against the State. Of course, with no one required to pay dues, eventually the union would evaporate and disciplinary charges would run amok.

Sure, the state employee unions in December made huge budget concessions to ease the strain on the state's budget. But these days, as state workers in New Jersey have found out, compromise is a one-way street when dealing with Repub governors.

But give Walker his due. Not because he has threatened to bring the National Guard up to restrain people who work for his state, but because of the explanation he gave GOP TV's Greta van Susteren (video below):

VAN SUSTEREN: You have the Guard on alert. Why, if that is true?

WALKER: No, in our case we have contingency plans that we put into place that are updated from where they were before. The National Guard is part of that. They would be part of that whether it is a snow emergency, tornado, earthquake, flood, anything else. And a work walk-off is part of contingency plan.

It is good and admirable for Walker to compare a work walk-off to "a snow emergency, tornado, earthquake, flood...." These are, as the governor must know, acts of God, events uncontrollable by human beings and in the view of many on the right, attributable in part or whole to the Almighty. Kudos, then, should go to Governor Walker for suggesting that the workers appalled by his plan to destroy their livelihood may in reality be doing God's work.

Update, 12:22 p.m.: David Dayen of Firedoglake reports that the Joint Finance Committee in the Wisconsin legislature has amended the budget repair bill (to which these proposals were attached), making it slightly less outrageous.

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