After reading through the first 10 pages of this thread, I'd like to try to address the issue as I am a state employee whose state has just gone through the same thing as Wisconsin has with little fanfare.
Our Teacher's Union also represents a vast majority of State Employees and some of their power was recently striped away since our newly elected Republican governor took office. I am not a union member - never really saw much interest in joining - but I can see the purpose behind them. It's really about having a voice in government whether at the local or state level. The way I see it in every state that is now taking up this fight to "get their financial house in order", state employees are being used as the scapegoats for all things "over budget". To cut costs, I'm seeing that most states are implementing the following tactics:
- freezing pay raises.
- freezing new hiring.
- increasing health insurance premiums while also reducing health benefits (or removing benefits, yet keeping premiums the same).
- limiting the collective bargaining power of state unions
- changing investment strategies for active (and retired) state employee 401(k) plans (in some cases increasing mandatory contribution levels) or proposeing dropping 401(k)'s altogether
In every state I've looked at where state budget woes are a key factor, issues surrounding state employees and their benefits are the focal point. But what cuts have these states actually sought to get their financial houses in order other than attacking the salaries and/or benefits of state employees? Seems to me few states have attempted to truly address the root causes of their financial woes, i.e., their investment strategies, their tax policies, the excesses within their state congressional budgets (i.e., are State Representative's salaries being frozen? Are their benefits being reduced? Are they coming out of pocket to pay more and do with less?)
In every instance, it is the State employees, teachers and public school systems that are being attacked, but it's not these individuals or entities that are the root causes of the State's financial woes. It has been over-spending, lack of proper tax codes, not balancing their own state budgets for years and a host of other problems where the salaries of state employees have very little economic impact as far as state budget shortfalls are concerned.
Now, let me be fair on this matter where the hierarchy of state employees are concerned: the Governor is their boss! As such, he (or she) has every right to direct state matters as he/she sees fit. However, our national Constitution in some ways trump state Constitutions. Therefore, all state employees have the right to peacefully assemble and have their voices heard. To that, Gov. Walker, in attempting to eliminate the collective bargaining power of Wisconsin state employees, is in effect not only trying to silence state employees, he's also trying to destroy their only means of fair representation within their state legislator. That is wrong!! What he and other Governors are attempting to do (or in the case of my own state Governor, has done) is create a dictatorship - the very form of (federal) government many people (Conservatives) claim they themselves despise! It's not enough to reduce or hold wages or cut benefits of state employees. Our voices are also being silenced by state government's quest to remove the only voice state employees have to advocate on their behalf.
Write your Congressman you say? How can I do that when it's the very "representative" who's attempting to take away my income, my benefits and most importantly my voice!!!???
If you support freedom of speech, I really don't see how anyone can be against what's happening not only in Wisconsin, but in other places all across the country. Now, sure as state employees our salaries come from state taxes, but we're people just as anyone in the private sector, and for most of us doing the job of serving the public is personal. Very few of us receive pay equal to what someone in the private sector would receive if we were doing the exact same job. Not only that, but most of the state jobs (atleast in my state) are mandated by state law, i.e., public health departments, state transportation departments, highway patrols (state troopers), tourism departments (which in some states is separate from parks and recreation departments), human resources departments, etc., etc., etc. These agencies do a great service to the "PUBLIC". Without them, a great many things many of us take for granted within our states would fall apart. But for most of us, we do the job at a fraction of the pay we'd otherwise receive in the private sector. However, in many cases there is no competing job for the kind of work performed in state government within the private sector. So, whenever I hear the tired argument that "government (state or federal) can't do this or that better than the private sector," I shrug my shoulders and ask why hasn't the private sector sought to do the work of forrest rangers, state troopers, Boarder Patrol agents, Drug Enforcement agents, and a host of other service related jobs do? It's quite laughable when you really sit down and think about it. But I digress...
Gov. Walker isn't simply trying to "fix" his state's budget problems. He views state employee unions (and in effect, state employees) as the problem when, in fact, the problem within Wisconsin and several other states has been their own policies, taxation issues and over-spending for years. State employees are simply being used as the scapegoats.
Last edited by Objective Voice; 02-24-11 at 11:21 AM.
Thank you, Quazi!
Scott Walker ran on the platform he is implementing in Wisconsin and the election results gave him the authority to do what he said he would do. As we were told by Obama elections have consequences, "we won, you lost" except now when the election results went against the unions in Wisconsin. Public unions have no business having collective bargaining rights and FDR agrees.
Iíll just address the meat of this rambling, almost incoherent post. Taxpayers PAY WAGES of public employees, for services performed. If taxpayers were funding unions,people that had a hard on against unions(such as yourself) would have been lining up for the last hindered years filing court cases against their money funding unions. End of story,have a good day conservative.:
The haggardness of poverty is everywhere seen contrasted with the sleekness of wealth, the exhorted labor of some compensating for the idleness of others, wretched hovels by the side of stately colonnades, the rags of indigence blended with the ensigns of opulence; in a word, the most useless profusion in the midst of the most urgent wants.Jean-Baptiste Say
Again, my point is state employee and retiree salaries and benefits are NOT the main cause of these state's budget shortfalls, and the collective bargaining power afforded state employee unions should not be held accountable for any given state's inability to balance their own budgets. The legislators created the mess, but state employees are paying for it. That's wrong.
(BTW, let's not be patronizing here, okay? I may be a state employee, but I pay city, state and federal taxes just as everyone else. I pay my property taxes same as you. I shop at retail stores same as you. I live in much the same way as everybody else. So, let's not attempt to differentiate one world view from another simply because I work in state government. Contrary to popular belief, I live in the exact same world as you do. My association with public (state and federal government) and private sector employment may provide me with a better perspective on these such issues than you may otherwise believe. So, let's first seek to understand one another then be understood, before passing judgment shall we?)
Last edited by Objective Voice; 02-24-11 at 11:40 AM.
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. ~ Ancient American Indian Proverb