Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheeseheads Gone Wild

There has been quite a stir coming out of America's dairyland, and it's not over the recent victory of the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Would that it were.

Scott Kevin Walker, a Republican, was elected Governor of the state of Wisconsin last fall, and began his tenure on January 3 of this year. Earlier this month, in light of a projected shortfall in the state's budget of $3.6 billion over the next two years, he proposed a radical plan before the legislature to balance the books. This included changes to public employee contracts, such as putting 5.8 percent of their salaries toward pensions (they currently contribute nothing) and paying 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums (about twice what they pay now).

Obviously, this did not go over well with public employee unions, which have converged on the state capitol, along with a smaller, but still sizable, contingent from various "tea party" movements. Meanwhile, inside the capitol, Democratic legislators have been playing hooky, in an ostensibly procedural attempt to avoid the necessary quorum, and the inevitable result of a Republican majority.

The Church has long upheld the right of employees to bargain collectively over a just wage and proper working conditions. In a recent Gallup poll, 61 percent opposed laws limiting such rights for public unions. For those workers to go strike, who have taken an oath which effectively negates such a recourse, is another matter.

Will the people of Wisconsin show any sympathy for state workers who will still, at the end of the day, get a better deal than most of them in the current economic climate? Maybe, maybe not. But when doctors from the University of Wisconsin are in the crowd writing notes for those workers to be able to call in sick, that sympathy may turn to contempt. (The doctors are currently under investigation.) The union leadership has not only the general public with which to contend, but with the rank-and-file membership, many of whom do not want to invoke the public ire.

After all, they know what happened in New Jersey and Rhode Island.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Copyright 2011 by Chris Muir. Used without permission or shame.


Dad29 said...

Frankly, sympathy for public employees is diminishing rapidly as the circus ramps up in Madistan.

The Church's teaching is clear, invoking the "common good" as an important factor--just like 'just wage' and 'conditions.'

The common good in Wisconsin does not include the State's bankruptcy, nor "increasing taxes", at least for the foreseeable future.

The mood is dour; there is palpable tension inside public school buildings.


Gail F said...

What amazes me is the media's universal use of the "is this union busting or is it cost cutting" theme. It is obviously BOTH -- cost cutting in the future by union busting, or at least union curtailing, now.