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  • Wisconsin's Most Outrageous Examples of Union Collective Bargaining

    As the standoff in Wisconsin drags on with no end in sight, Republican Gov. Scott Walker continues to make his case about the fiscal implications of collective bargaining. His office highlighted some of the most outrageous benefits and behavior that public-sector unions have institutionalized through collective bargaining.

    The case of Milwaukee teacher Megan Sampson is a classic example. Less than a week after the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers named Sampson its “Outstanding First Year Teacher,” she lost her job. The cause? Sampson got the pink slip because she lacked seniority.

    The school’s collective bargaining agreement left no choice. Decisions had to be based on seniority rather than merit.

    Sampson’s case was made worse because the teachers’ union refused to accept a lower-cost health care plan. Sampson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Given the opportunity, of course I would switch to a different plan to save my job, or the jobs of 10 other teachers.”

    On the other end of the spectrum is a Cedarburg, Wis., teacher who was fired for viewing pornography — only to be reinstated by an arbitrator, a result of collective bargaining. In this case, it took a costly, taxpayer-funded legal battle that went all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court before the teacher was finally terminated.

    Unions have also displayed a territorial bent that borders on absurdity. A Wausau, Wis., public employee union stopped an 86-year-old resident from being a volunteer crossing guard. WAOW-TV reported that union representatives didn’t want the man volunteering because it weakened their case to hire a unionized worker instead.

    In another case, a Racine, Wis., public employee filed a grievance because inmates were cutting the grass free of charge. The union worker claimed it was the “right” for government workers to cut the grass, according to the Racine Journal Times.

    The salaries and benefits of public workers have soared to levels unthinkable in the private sector because government negotiators bargain with taxpayer money, not their own. It’s happening at the Green Bay School District, which secured an agreement that allows a teacher to retire and receive a full year’s salary for only 30 days of work, according to WLUK-TV.

    Meanwhile, in the city of Madison, Wis., a host of bus drivers and correctional officers are earning more than $100,000 per year. In fact, the single highest-paid employee in Madison was a bus driver who earned $159,258 in 2009, reported the Wisconsin State Journal.

    These are just a few of the more outrageous examples resulting from collective bargaining. And even though unions deny there is a financial connection, Walker’s office continues to showcase the evidence.

    Matthew McKillip is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to Wisconsin's Most Outrageous Examples of Union Collective Bargaining

    1. Kathy Fort Atkinson says:

      Fascinating how your article talks about the few who've managed to beat the system. Perhaps you'd like to talk about the thousands upon thousands who make LESS THAN their public counterparts and only enjoyed good benefits — which are now not great, thanks to the governor.

      The Heritage Foundation is not known for its fair and balanced viewpoint. Come on, people.

    2. Barbara says:

      Teachers Unions hide behind the bogus notion they are doing it for the children, an absurdity when we look at their tactics and the downward trend of educational scores. No, it isn't "doing it for the children" rather "doing it to our children". The children are the ones held hostage. Seems intelligence had taken a walk in exchange for power and money.

    3. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      How much is withheld for union dues? State workers may claim Walker does not have their best interests in mind, but as he fights for optional union membership, does he not essentially fight for more net pay? It appears Walker wants to give state workers a choice…lobby for yourself and take home more of your money or allow union leaders to lobby for you in return for a "modest" fee.

    4. Mary, Minnesota says:

      In Minnesota the Legislature has asked State Parks to utilize groups such as the Conservation Corp to provide both a natural resource learning experience and jobs for young people. However AFSCME unions refuse to allow any type of work ever done by a union employee, to be done by these groups. There is so

      much resource work needed, funding provided through the Legacy Act and groups willing to do it but there is no way around the union. Seems just wrong, that they have that much power over government.

    5. Mark Turmell, Las Ve says:

      $150,000 bus driver? That's nothing! In Nevada, we have firemen (hose holder/chrome polisher) and corrections officers pulling in excess of $200,000 – and in some cases over $350,000 a year. http://transparentnevada.com/salaries/2009/las-ve

      In Henderson, we have a "Fire Battalion Chief" making over $400,000, and an "Assistant City Attorney" making $550,000 a year. http://transparentnevada.com/salaries/2009/hender

    6. Margaret Kean, New J says:

      I find it odd that people who are in favor of free trade market forces are against the free trade of workers. If a worker wants to band with others to bargain for a block of service, then it is their rights. It is their right to attempt to get the most they can their labors, just as it is in right right of the employer to attempt to pay the least. Somewhere in the forces of negotiation, a deal is struck. There IS a constitutional right to unionization. Several States' constitutions actually recognize it, such as NJ Art 1 Para 19. Regarding the claim that unions unfairly donate to legislators, corporations now have the consititional right to make political donations, particularly on legislation which effect them. Stop trying to limit rights, and lets start expanding rights. If you feel there are poorly negotiated agreements regardling public employment, then elect leaders who have a spine, and negotiate better agreements for yourself. Stop complaining about your own conduct. Nobody signs a mortgage and then crabs about how they were unfairly taken advantage of because the rate is too high.

      • raul says:

        Then you pay exorbitant taxes so your munincipal workers can live better than you ! Pay 80% of your income so they can have a cadilac health plan where you have to settle for olosercare and recieve your 5,000 of health care a year!

    7. Eric, California says:

      For those that do not like how much public safety employees, members of unions or not, are earning in terms of salary and benefits, what do you think is adequate compensation for such employees who put their lives on the line for the good of the general public? Simply a curious question.

      • franksharon says:

        i do not know –but i would bet if an opening for a job comes up there will be plenty to fill it—what do you think

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    10. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      How many disastrous unions demands have forced industries and professions into extinction? One I know something about was the American Maritime Industry. It was totally destroyed because of unions. I once watched the SIU delay an American flag tanker from sailing, with 10 million dollars of oils onboard bound for India, because not enough ice-cream flavors were onboard. That delay cost the owner ten of thousand of dollars. But more important was the final result. Most every American ship owners was forced to transfer their vessels from American flags to foreign flags where union did not hold sway on such foolist demands. Today, it is rare indeed to see any ocean going vessels (including passenger cruse ships) flying American flags all because of unions.

    11. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Picking Winners and Losers, that is what this is all about. The Teachers Unions pick the winners, Progressive Socialists, and nobody else. I was a Union Electrician, but the Union held my earnings down during the sweet spot of my career! Everybody has to be equal, so the most you could earn more, no matter your qualifications, Two Bucks more! So, it isn't just about the Political Contributions stolen from Union Members, it is also their Future. The only future they will allow is one that doesn't contain Conservatives (Constitutionalists.) In the end the Members lose because a Bankrupt State cannot pay those crazy Pensions.

      There is an over arching strategy to destroy all of our American Safety Nets, and our Pension System is no different! Giving full pensions to people who under performed and under paid is just like Unemployment Extensions. It isn't about the Unemployed, it is about destroying the Unemployment System! Drain it down so that when we need it? It won't be there! Union Leaders do not Represent Union Members! They are like Obama, the Represent the Foreign Interest exclusively!

    12. Dave Altman, Denver, says:

      Is there no voice being heard from the 88% of Wisconsin residents who are not public employees? These are the exact people who are being asked to fund the rather excessive benefits and perks for 12% of the population. I am not saying that public sector employees do not have the right to a reasonable exisitence and yes, they do deserve to be paid fairly, including benefits, for the work they do. It get's to the point though that when those benefits are aggregated over a career, they overwhelmingly are excessive compared to equivalent work in the private sector. No one is indespensible, no job-for-life is ever realistically earned and the overall compensation to public sector employees must be brought back to reality.

      On a short note, I heard that hazerdous duty pay was back in the mix for teachers in Wisconsin. Really?? How bad are the schools there that this is even being considered?

    13. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      For those that do not like how much public safety employees, members of unions or not, are earning in terms of salary and benefits, what do you think is adequate compensation for such employees who put their lives on the line for the good of the general public? Simply a curious question.

      Eric: the career choice is dictated by the individual, not the state. Local and state governments do not generate money – they spend money. A person seeking a job as a firefighter may very well weight risk vs reward in making the career decision – a free market principle. If the pay is not sufficient – no applicants. Then, tax payers must decide how much they are willing to pay in taxes for this service. Thus there is a balance. Today the balance is non existent and we have Wisconsin. At some point the balance must return or we all suffer.

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    15. Johnny Rocco, Key La says:

      To Eric in California: Collective bargaining is preventing us from answering that question.

      Generally, an employee's work is worth whatever the market is willing to pay. In the case of public safety workers, since there is there is only one party demanding that kind of labor (firefighters, police officers, etc.), there is no market rate for the work. The market analogy is not entirely inappropriate, however. Workers qualified for public safety functions are also qualified for certain jobs in the private sector (security, inspections) such that the state should have to adjust its salary offerings to continue to entice qualified workers. As it stands, the going rate for public safety work is based on the result of the collusion between union bosses and politicians. Neither party does public safety work or pays for public safety work. They are nominal agents who have too much of a self-interest (and bear none of the costs) to be effective agents. Their goal is to keep the cost of labor as high as possible without the public noticing in order to maximize union wealth, in the case of the former, and campaign wealth, in the case of the latter.

      As for the claim that these people are putting their lives on the line for the public good, whatever their motivations for public safety work, the number one reason is personal benefit. That benefit could be from a salary or the satisfaction dervied from protecting other people, or both. There is no sacrifice involved because they are working of their own accord. If they have foregone other opportunities they have done so voluntarily. The respect that these employees have in the community for their work is part of the enticement. If anything, collective bargaining undermines this healthy norm by creating salaries so inflated that (a) people take up the work solely for the money, (b) public respect erodes because taxpayers rightly feel cheated.

    16. Pingback: Hope Dims for Resolution of Wisconsin Standoff – Wall Street Journal | Conservatives for America

    17. Todd, OR says:

      To Eric from California,

      I was an aircrew member in the Air Force Reserves up until the Base Reduction and Closure Act closed my unit down. I went a few places that were more dangerous than average, and as I sit here, I can remember at least five flights where I could have been killed due to mechanical failure or just plain bad luck.

      I earned approximately 20k/year doing that. I didn't use the pension or medical benefits because I earned those in the private sector at my "real job".

      Those who did the same thing full-time at my unit plus carrying additional duties that always come with full-time Reserves employment weren't all making six figures either.

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    20. Steve, TENN says:

      to Eric of California…..

      how much does the E3 or E4 who is fighting the "Allahu Akbar" jihadis get paid? He doesn't go home at night when the day is done either. Just another thought. And now we lost two more on a bus in Germany!!!

    21. GLENN says:

      Eric asked what is fair compensation for the fire and police responders who risk their lives, et al? How about we simplify the whole pay system for these heroes by paying them the same as our war fighters—the military personnel. I have to laugh at what the city employees make, then complain about, while they also retire with better pensions than the military. They also are not deployed overseas six months out of every 18 months.

    22. Glenn Pate, Rapid Ci says:

      Eric, Maybe we should just pay the fire fighters and police, who do such hazardous work, the same as our heroes who actually are working in harms way, our military. These young men and women are deployed for 6 months to a year every other year, yet they are payed a pittance compared to the public safety employees. Oh, I get it. Let's onionize the military and give them collect bargaining rights!!! Just kidding.

    23. Dave says:

      All public employees should not be paid, including teachers, cops, fireman, it should be 100% volunteer. No politicians should be allowed to make money either. NO ONE should have access to health care unless they can pay for it in cash. Survival of the Fittest, we have to eliminate all the parasites.

      GO GALT

    24. Wes in cincy says:

      The unions always try to change the subject. They always try to gain

      sympathy for the union worker. They try to keep the conversation away

      from the fact that the state is going broke. They want their money clear up

      until the day that the state government is closed, the doors are locked and everybody goes home.

      The taxpayer be damned, he doesn't count and should have no say-so.

    25. James says:

      To Kathy Fort Atkinson (POST#1): the artical just posted facts and did not critize or put emotion. You claimed "Perhaps you’d like to talk about the thousands upon thousands who make LESS THAN their public counterparts and only enjoyed good benefits". So where are your facts. Provide your balance argument! Don't post conjecture and hear-say.. this is why the union defense to this battle is lame, rude, abnoxious and childish. Cause they know they have no defense or counter argument. Im not living there, but im a NY'r and we suffer from the same problem, and its so evident of a problem even our Democratic Govrn'r is doing the same. Your state is not alone in this issue!!! I have private union and state union members in my family and the outrageous "barganings" in the state are just killing us. There are good barginings and bad, if the unions with legit they would just toss the bad ones and own up to it.

    26. Jim Duncan, the last says:

      This is an excellent article which points out many of the abuses that labor unions, both public and private inflict on the general public. Thank you.

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