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  • Looking Out for Children in Wisconsin

    Last week, students in several Wisconsin school districts were unable to attend school when classes were cancelled due to thousands of striking teachers throughout Madison and surrounding districts. While most teachers have returned to their posts today, protests continue in opposition to Governor Scott Walker’s (R) proposal to reform collective bargaining and pay down Wisconsin’s $4 billion deficit.

    As part of a budget repair bill that has stalled in the Senate, education employees would have to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to cover the cost of their pensions and pay 12 percent of their health insurance premiums. The governor’s proposal would also limit collective bargaining for teachers.

    Although most teachers have returned to the classroom, 14 Democratic state legislators remain on the lam in neighboring Illinois in what appears to be a futile game of chicken with Gov. Walker. But the governor has several means at his disposal to try to entice the absent lawmakers to return to Wisconsin. Gov. Walker has suggested that he will begin sending layoff notices to state employees as early as next week if the budget impasse is not overcome.

    The firestorm over modest reforms to union power and education employee benefits is spreading to other states that are trying to reform similarly untenable systems.

    The Washington Post confirms that Democrats in Indiana have fled the statehouse in an attempt to thwart a bill curtailing collective bargaining power in that state. At the same time, Governor Mitch Daniels (R) has been working on his own agenda for reforming the workforce, pushing to reform teacher tenure.

    And in Ohio, protests are underway against a plan to curtail the collective bargaining power of approximately 60,000 state workers and to require public sector employees to pay a portion of their health insurance. Similar demonstrations are taking place in Tennessee.

    Back in Wisconsin, Marty Beil, head of the State Employees Union, suggested opposition is “not about the money,” and that the education unions are primarily concerned with the loss of their collective bargaining power. Christian Schneider over at NRO takes exception:

    But to say these protests are merely about collective-bargaining rights is to say The Godfather is a movie about Italian food…

    Walker has attempted to change that framework, allowing government workers to opt out of paying union dues — which, he has said, he thinks may offset the increased health and pension contributions he’s asking of employees.

    “And it is this provision that has the unions most up in arms. They know that, given the option, many of their members would choose not to write out a check for union dues. This, in turn, would strangle their election spending, leaving them scrambling for funds and, consequently, influence.

    Schneider is right. Given the option, many teachers would likely opt out of paying exorbitant union dues, particularly if they disagree with the political positions of the unions that are supposed to represent them. An NEA member survey found that half of dues-paying members identified themselves as being more conservative than liberal, but 91 percent of the NEA’s campaign and political contributions went to Democrats or left-leaning causes. Benefactors of NEA donations include the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, Planned Parenthood and SEIU.

    According to Mike Antonucci, who closely follows education unions, “NEA members alone make up more than half of union members working for local governments, by far the most unionized segment of the U.S. economy.” He also explains how these unions operate:

    A look at teachers union governance and financing will demonstrate how this philanthropic giving occurs. The school district’s payroll office deducts union dues from each teacher’s paycheck as a lump sum. The money is transmitted at regular intervals to the local union affiliate, which keeps its share and transmits the remainder to the state affiliate, which keeps its share and transmits the remainder to the national affiliate. NEA has an affiliate in every state and claims 14,000 locals. NEA received $162 from each member teacher this school year, and $93.50 from each full-time education support staff member. NEA’s budget for 2010 is $355.8 million.

    There is certainly a reason the education unions are concerned about Gov. Walker’s plan to curtail their power. But many teachers might be thankful, too, if they were no longer forced to fork over hundreds of dollars annually to support causes with which they don’t necessarily agree.

    Ultimately, education employees must remember that they are hired to teach children. And when two-thirds of Wisconsin students cannot read proficiently, the most efficient and valuable way for teachers to be spending their time is in the classroom, not in protest of modest reforms.

    Governor Walker’s proposal will ultimately help limit the power of special interests and put the emphasis back on educating children.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Looking Out for Children in Wisconsin

    1. Pingback: Looking Out for Children in Wisconsin « South Capitol Street

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    3. Deborah, Wisconsin says:

      First of all these aren't "modest reforms" to union power, this is union busting, so let's get the language straight here. The Bill: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/JR1SB-11.pdf
      I see Teachers making maybe $50,000/yr. offering to give back money because they're suppose to make "sacrifices." I never see Goldman Sachs/Halliburton offering to give back a cent. And Rush calls Teachers "parasites." Why isn't our anger directed at the Wallstreet criminals. Why have Teachers, unions, workers, suddenly become the enemy. Why you're busy giving the run down on unions, why not concern your self with the Koch Brothers take over => http://bit.ly/ez7dpb

    4. Earl, Queens, NY says:

      Check out CNSnews.com, and read about the poor grades of Wisconsin students, as well as the high salaries and benefits of Wisconsin teachers. Yet all these unions can do is whine about having to pay a little more for their benefits!! Well, here’s another good reason to support Gov. Walker and just say “NO” to the NEA and other teachers unions. IMO these leftwing unions should be decertified or destroyed. And if it’s not possible to destroy the NEA, then I’m totally in favor of the plan to allow teachers to opt out of their unions. I’m a 100% supporter of right-to-work laws for all public as well as private sector employees. We must realize there are still some good teachers, and many of them are GOP voters who don’t appreciate having money taken from them to go to the leftwing democrap party. As for the students’ poor grades, shouldn’t that be considered in determining which teachers stay on or get laid off, as opposed to the unions’ rule of LIFO (last in – first out). Why not AITO (all incompetent teachers out)?? My brother worries about his kids, who are spending too much time playing computer/video games instead of studying and getting better grades. Well, as a former proofreader, I’ve looked at many of the kid’s essays, in which the teachers overlooked many spelling errors. If I had overlooked typo and spelling errors on annual reports like some of these teachers, I would’ve been fired from my proofreading position in the private sector CPA firm which I worked for!! Whichever teacher(s) graded these kids’ papers, IMHO they should be fired under AITO!! Forget the unions’ LIFO nonsense!!

      BTW, I read today in amNewYork (Wednesday, 2/23/2011, page 4) that Wisconsin’s Democrap Party is lashing out at Governor Walker because a pro-union website is inaccessible inside the state capitol; presumably because all new websites must be run through a software approval program. It’s amazing how democraps/liberals will cry so loud for their 1st Amendment rights to peddle their leftwing agenda!! Yet these leftwing malcontents show nothing but contempt for the 1st Amendment rights of those of us who speak out against their warped detrimental ideas. E.g., they want to silence conservative talk radio hosts, Fox News, and shut down websites like this. They also assault the right of Christians/Jews to speak out against abortion, LGBT rights, etc.

    5. Mike, Wisconsin says:

      Deborah: $50,000/yr you say? Would you be surprised if MPS admitted that the AVERAGE MPS teacher in FY11 will be costing the Wisconsin taxpayer over 100K/yr in salary and benefits?

      It's not like you're claiming. Most unions in this state – and country – are being forced to give concessions to assist the companies at which they work to continue to be viable. What makes you think PUBLIC unions should be any different?

      "Collective Bargaining" is illegal in many places. Public unions are as well. There's a reason for that; a reason that even FDR recognized, as he called public unions "Unthinkable and Intolerable". Not enough for you? How about this quote:

      “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

      Know who said that? George Meany: former President of the AFL-CIO (1955). So what has happened? Leftist encroachment happened – and it's destructive, and it's in the process of being reversed.

      Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized. Wisconsin was the first (stupid) State to allow collective bargaining.

      More states should heed the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Executive Council’s 1959 advice: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress — a right available to every citizen.”

    6. Mary Kay - Lake Arro says:

      Deborah,

      The Koch brothers produce jobs in the private sector that build the economy, not bust the economy like public sector unions. Define takeover by the Koch brothers for us 'under-educated' folks would you?

      I too have been a union member in a closed shop for 32 years. When our industry took a major hit after 9/11, we supported our company by giving hugh concessions to keep it going and keep our jobs.

      You have been brainwashed to think in the manner that you do. I find it shameful and selfish. Stop listening to your union leadership and get your facts straight. I would be angry knowing 2/3 's of the states students cannot read proficiently while having the most spent on them.

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