February 22, 2011

A WINNING HAND:

Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray (A. G. SULZBERGER and MONICA DAVEY, 2/22/11, NY Times)

Rich Hahan worked at the General Motors plant here until it closed about two years ago. He moved to Detroit to take another G.M. job while his wife and children stayed here, but then the automaker cut more jobs. So Mr. Hahan, 50, found himself back in Janesville, collecting unemployment for a time, and watching as the city’s industrial base seemed to crumble away.

Among the top five employers here are the county, the schools and the city. And that was enough to make Mr. Hahan, a union man from a union town, a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin, a plan that has set off a firestorm of debate and protests at the state Capitol. He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations.

“Something needs to be done,” he said, “and quickly.” [...]

“Everyone else needs to pinch pennies and give more money to health insurance companies and pay for their own retirement,” said Cindy Kuehn as she left Jim and Judy’s Food Market in Palmyra. “It’s about time the buck stops.”

In Madison, the capital, which has become the focus of protests, many state workers and students at the University of Wisconsin predictably oppose the proposed cuts.

But away from Madison, many people said that public workers needed to share in the sacrifice that their own families have been forced to make.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2011 6:59 AM
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