Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Wisconsin is really about...Part deux

Eric Alterman @ The NationThe political power of public unions, not their pensions, is the point. Speaking at the recent Conservative Political Action Committee convention, Scott Hagerstrom of (Koch-funded) Americans for Prosperity explained, “We fight these battles on taxes and regulation, but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.”

1 comment:

  1. I was reading someone talking about how unions brought this on themselves by protecting incompetent workers and by demanding unreasonable benefits packages during a recession. They referenced things like the "rubber room" in the NYC school district and the insolubility of many state pensions. It is telling that this is the beef that drives people on Walker's side. I think there is truth to these criticism, but the Wisconsin legislation isn't going to solve these problems that fundamentally stem from a lack of leadership at the top of state governments.
    The real rub with the Wisconsin situation is that unions were willing to negotiate with Walker, but he would only look at legislation that chipped away at collective bargaining, something that destroys unions, but by itself doesn't actually save the state a dime. Since they pissed off the Dem base so bad, they had to pass the non-budgetary legislation that literally doesn't save the state any money, it only hurts unions. Their "financial responsibility" facade has crashed.
    The other point: that unions protect poor-performing workers, is another issue that I think really points to how hollow this effort is. If politicians acted like leaders and were willing to do the difficult, time-consuming work of negotiating with the unions to create a framework of genuine accountability and incentives, for workers and managers, I think most union members would go along. There were definitely tenured teachers in SF that I would have been happy to throw under the bus for all the right reasons. In the long run it would actually save the state money and improve the quality of services. Instead, when times are flush the state trades slightly lower salaries for solid gold job security and benefits: essentially a three-card monte game with the state budget, and then when times are lean they attack the unions as rapacious. It is feckless and shameless.