December 22, 2012

THE UNIVERSAL WAR ON PUBLIC UNIONS:

Conservative Blue : Republicans are enacting bold reforms in Democratic bastions of the Midwest. (CHRISTIAN SCHNEIDER, 18 December 2012, City Journal)

Michigan's tussle with unions follows a two-year imbroglio in Wisconsin, where, early in 2011, Republican governor Scott Walker virtually eliminated public-sector collective bargaining. Walker's move inflamed the state's government unions, leading to months of demonstrations, disruptions, and recall elections. Last June, Walker survived a recall, beating Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett (his opponent in the 2010 general election) by seven percentage points--a larger winning margin than he had enjoyed two years earlier.

Perhaps the most surprising recent labor battle has been in Illinois, where Chicago's Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has challenged public-union benefits and work hours. In September, Emanuel refused to cave in to the demands of 26,000 striking Chicago teachers. The teachers wanted pay increases of 30 percent to reflect a longer work day, and they objected to a proposed teacher-evaluation system. For almost two weeks, 350,000 Chicago schoolchildren sat home, while their teachers marched in picket lines. But Emanuel stood firm, and the teachers returned to work. (Emanuel has also challenged the city's operating-engineers' union on overtime policy and has proposed privatizing Chicago's recycling system.)

None of these initiatives is particularly innovative; Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state, for example. Twenty-four U.S. states have either reduced public-sector collective bargaining or don't permit it at all. Big cities deal with restrictive union contracts every fiscal year.

The real surprise is where these changes are taking place. Michigan is the birthplace of the United Auto Workers; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) originated in Madison, Wisconsin; the Teamsters National Union formed in Chicago in 1901.
Posted by at December 22, 2012 7:35 PM
  
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