February 23, 2011
NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON:
Benefits bubble has burst for Wisconsin unions (Dennis Byrne, February 22, 2011, Chicago Tribune)
Labor compensation is the largest component of busted local, state and federal budgets, and those costs are the horrific results of government employees' "right" to bargain collectively and, in some cases, to strike. Government employees have had the upper hand for decades thanks to collective bargaining practices, rules and laws. For example, to resolve deadlocked talks, they can require binding arbitration, which takes the decision-making out of the hands of the taxpayers' representatives and gives it to an outside arbitrator who often "splits the difference."Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2011 6:47 AM
Public employees who regard the taxpayers' munificence as an entitlement have reason to worry. Walker's bill would limit collective bargaining to wage issues alone, cap wage increases at rises in the cost of living (unless approved in a local referendum), limit contracts to one year and freeze any wage increases until a new contract is negotiated. Union members would have to vote every year whether to retain the union as its collective bargaining agent, state agencies would be barred from collecting union dues and individual employees could refuse to pay those dues.
The bill excludes from collective bargaining home health care workers in Medicaid programs, family child-care workers and University of Wisconsin faculty, academic staff, hospital and clinic employees. It empowers the governor to declare a state of emergency and fire workers who take unauthorized absences of three days to participate in "an organized action to stop or slow work."
The bill contains more, much of which should serve as a template for the even more financially crippled state of Illinois. If the bill is an overreaction, it should have been expected.