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Helping You To Know The News > Wisconsin/Labor Issues in General

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments RA, are you involved in the teacher demonstrations in Wisconsin?
I'm very concerned about what's happening there.


message 2: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11617 comments I'm excited about what's happening there. One of those asshat union-busting tyrants took the Gov's office and now he's seeing that he can't just shit all over the middle class like he wants to.


message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Hopefully he can't, though he's trying hard. I'm glad he's in a city that knows how to stage a good protest.


message 4: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 17, 2011 09:27AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments A bunch of school districts are off today because of teachers calling in sick to go to the protests. I bet Jim's son's school is closed, he's near Madison. Dear teachers...if you want parental support it's probably not a good idea to leave parents scrambling for child care at 6:30AM.

I don't agree with much of Walker's methodologies, and I agree that the burden should be shared across all public employees (he exempted police/firemen because their unions supported him in the election, apparently). I do know (and this is coming from someone married to a public school teacher) that public school teachers do get absolutely through the roof great insurance and retirement, and not all of the teachers earn them. I'm pretty sure Walker's asking the teachers to contribute something like 10% to health care (a full time teacher in most Wisconsin district pays nothing for top-notch health care) and 5% to retirement. Those figures might be slightly off. I also think the teachers could have agreed to some of this years ago instead of saying "Oh, yes, now we're ready to contribute" when the shit hit the fan. That's where Walker has public support behind him. Teacher unions aren't always the shining knights they portray themselves to be. As an educator I strongly reject the "oh, us poor teachers, we're the future, we're so picked on" self-image. We as a field are responsible for some of what's happened in the field (e.g. unions protecting truly bad teachers).

However, I think Walker's overtly aggressive approach (e.g. the national guard threat, saying school funding will be cut severely without concessions) was stupid, and he's not done enough to expand some of the tax burden to corporations and high-paid corporate employees. Walker's a shitty communicator who has drawn battle lines. That's disappointing. I don't know that anyone is going to win in this situation, but I think many states, esp. the ones going broke, are watching closely.


message 5: by Heidi (last edited Feb 17, 2011 09:37AM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments I second Sarah Pi's concern.

Oh, and I almost participated in a protest once.

Addendum: WHOA! Cross post.


message 6: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments You also have to remember that Madison is a city that's largely separated from the rest of Wisconsin. Walker won the last election without even trying that hard, from what I could tell. He's probably got more support in the state than people out of state watching on tv realize. He's got the votes, too, in the legislature. Watching how this impacts future elections will be fascinating.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments Teachers Unions are not the most respected in this state, but like you said RA Walker's approach was abysmal. For the record the firemen were at the protest the last couple of days in support of the state and teachers unions.


message 8: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments RandomAnthony wrote: "You also have to remember that Madison is a city that's largely separated from the rest of Wisconsin. Walker won the last election without even trying that hard, from what I could tell. He's prob..."

So... you're saying we shouldn't be concerned for you?


message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments There's more in his attempt to break the unions than just changing benefits, though. If he gets his way they won't be able to organize for workers' rights at all, from what I understand. For all that the teachers' union may have gotten them some cushy benefits, without union organizing there would be no child labor laws, or sick days, or 40 hour workweeks. To take away the ability to campaign for change when it is necessary strikes me as dangerous.


message 10: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Well, no, Heidi, I appreciate it...I honestly don't know if you should be concerned for me about that. There are plenty of other reasons to be concerned about me:) Sure, I'm worried about my wife losing her job, etc. But I'm having a hard time following the landscape right now. We'll see.

Oh, I agree, Pi. There are parts of the bill (e.g. making unions recertify every year) that are clearly union-busting, and with everything mixed together in one bill, it's impossible (unless they amend or whatever) to separate out the union-busting thing from the benefits thing. And some argue the benefits shouldn't change, too.

Someone said to me today that the parents getting inconvenienced for one day is ok for a the long-term goals associated with the protest. I get that, too. I wish they had planned better, though, so people had more time to respond, get child care, etc., but apparently that wasn't possible.


message 11: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments RandomAnthony wrote: "Well, no, Heidi, I appreciate it...I honestly don't know if you should be concerned for me about that. There are plenty of other reasons to be concerned about me:) Sure, I'm worried about my wife..."

NO! M can't lost her job. :( That would really, really suck.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Karl Rove on the larger strategy:


Rove: "Every one of those 600,000 people had several hundred dollars worth of union dues going into the political coffers of their union to spend on politics. So yeah, you keep having a couple hundred thousand people each year. If a half a million people leave the labor union movement every year, pretty soon you start having a crimp in the political budget of these unions, it has a direct effect on the Presidential elections."


message 13: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) grrrrrrrrr


message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I agree, Bun. I'm also disconcerted by Boehner's repeated attacks on government jobs, as if the one million federal jobs he would cut somehow belong to some class of people who don't deserve to work. And this from the party that wants to label the health care bill "job-killing."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/20...


message 15: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Yes, that's been one of the criticisms in Wisconsin, too, Buns...focusing on what to cut rather than on ways to raise revenue, esp. with larger corporations.


message 16: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 17, 2011 12:48PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments The democrats left the building so there's no quorum (sp?), I think...and in an absolutely bizarre development...the police are looking for them to take them back to the chamber to vote!

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepol...

Never say Wisconsin politics are boring...


message 17: by Dr. Detroit (new)

Dr. Detroit | 6019 comments BunWat wrote: "When do corporations and millionaires start contributing to this national belt tightening?"

I was wondering the same thing just the other day while trying to decide how to spend my fat profit sharing bonus.


message 18: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Here are two quotes from the article that blow my mind...

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said that Democrats were "not showing up for work" and that police were searching for them to bring them to the floor.

and

Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) confirmed Thursday that Democrats are boycotting the Senate action on the bill in efforts to block a quorum and keep the measure from passing. Because 20 senators of the 33-member house are needed to be present to pass a fiscal bill, the body's 19 Republicans will not be enough to pass the budget repair bill without at least one Democrat present.

Cullen said he believed at least most of the Democrats were outside Wisconsin, though he declined to say where.

"I think they're all out of state. I am anyway," Cullen said.

Speculation in the Capitol pointed to Illinois as the state where Democrats had headed.


Holy fuck! Legislators on the run!


message 19: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Clark wrote: "BunWat wrote: "When do corporations and millionaires start contributing to this national belt tightening?"

I was wondering the same thing just the other day while trying to decide how to spend m..."


Clark's buyin'.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments RandomAnthony wrote: "The democrats left the building so there's no quorum...and in an absolutely bizarre development...the police are looking for them to take them back to the chamber to vote!

http://www.jsonline.com/..."


I was just going to post this.


message 21: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I think they're hiding in Jim's basement.


message 22: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11617 comments I heard from Ed Schultz that all democrats plus three republicans were out of the state. That way the state patrol can't do shit. And they shouldn't be allowed to do shit anyway, because "somebody didn't show up for work" does not give police a right to compel them to do so.


message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments RandomAnthony wrote: "I think they're hiding in Jim's basement."

Yes, and they've finished all my beer. I have orders to bring a few cases home with me.


message 24: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments your senator is a vampire?


message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I had to go about ten messages back to get that one, Janine, but yes, it would appear so. Isn't that the case with most politicians, though?


message 26: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments they do like to suck people dry.


message 27: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments i vant to sahk yer blaht. ^ vv ^


message 28: by Ken (last edited Feb 17, 2011 03:42PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments I believe the idea behind generous benefits for teachers, first-responders and some government workers is that in order to draw personnel from generally more lucrative work in the private sector, additional security is offered to those workers. That’s not to say that those benefits can never be excessive or out of line. But these public workers have become convenient scapegoats for budgetary problems, and they’ve been soundly demonized by the usual suspects needless to say.

But we’re at a point, generally speaking where middle class incomes long have been stagnant, Labor has been beaten down to a virtual nub, and national wealth and political power are concentrated so heavily at the top we are beginning to fit the conventional definitions of plutocracy and banana republic, hyperbolic as those terms may sound.

So, it’s very, very heartening to see somebody, somewhere rise up, not only against the unfairness of their particular circumstances, but against this insidious trend and the pervasively rancid propaganda that sustains it.


message 29: by Ken (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Well, Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin has my favorite quote of the day (so far):

http://www.nationaljournal.com/protes...

"State workers who have extremely generous benefits packages, [Walker's] asking that they contribute 12 percent to their health care packages. It's not a lot, it's about half of what private-sector employees pay, and he's getting riots. It's like Cairo has come to Wisconsin," Ryan said. "People should be able to express their way, but we've got to get this deficit and debt under control in Madison."


message 30: by Stina (new)

Stina (stinalee) | 750 comments Phil wrote: "I'm excited about what's happening there. One of those asshat union-busting tyrants took the Gov's office and now he's seeing that he can't just shit all over the middle class like he wants to."

I'm excited too! I was just chatting with my mom that I've been BEGGING for a group of Senators or Representatives to be ballsy like this for YEARS.

LOVE IT!!


message 31: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24099 comments Mod
BunWat wrote: "I'm just getting steadily more fed up with the theory that we can't afford benefits for union workers, we can't afford universal health care, we can't afford fuel oil assistance programs for the el..."

Rich people worked hard for their money. How dare you suggest that success should be penalized!


message 32: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24099 comments Mod
Didn't Texas state legislators do the disappearing act a few years ago too?

Oh yes here it is.

An impasse like this hasn't happened in Wisconsin before, but it did happen in Texas eight years ago. In 2003, after Republicans took control of the legislature there, they attempted to pass a new redistricting plan that would weaken Democrats. Most of Texas's Democratic caucus fled the state for Ardmore, Okla., and only returned when they were promised that the vote was off. When redistricting came up again in a special session, 11 of the 12 Democrats in the Texas Senate fled to Albuquerque to stop the vote.

How did Texas Republicans end the crisis? None of the Democrats were ever "caught." Sen. John Whitmire broke with his Democratic colleagues and returned home, for two stated reasons. One: He worried about all the other legislation stopped by the impasse. "At some point in time," he explained, "remaining in New Mexico is counterproductive." Two: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had, in order to bring up redistricting, suspended the rule that required a two-thirds majority for passage, and Whitmire worried that the protest would end with the rule being permanently ended. (This didn't happen.)


http://www.slate.com/id/2285532/


message 33: by Félix (last edited Feb 17, 2011 06:43PM) (new)

Félix (habitseven) I was living in Texas when that happened. Quite a circus. It's the same issue that is resulting in Tom DeLay going to jail.


message 34: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24099 comments Mod
Obama joins Wisconsin's budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill

Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an "assault" on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would nullify collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...


message 35: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 18, 2011 04:25PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Dear Rachel Maddow:

Hm. Suddenly you seem to care a lot about Wisconsin. Please get your facts straight before you open your mouth. You're not helping anyone on either side by spreading misinformation, and sifting through all this type of BS is keeping people from addressing the real issues.

Love,

RA

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/s...


message 36: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24099 comments Mod
She's only a Rhodes Scholar making $2 million/year. Cut her some slack.


message 37: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I like politifact, too, Buns. The Journal Sentinel started using politifact in the election season and it grew so popular that now they run something politifact-related (and they're pretty good about spreading around the coverage so they hit both conservatives and liberals and everything in between with analysis) pretty much every day.


message 38: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Here's one where they nailed Darling, from the other side of the issue, for talking out of her ass, too.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/s...


message 39: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3389 comments Ken wrote: "I believe the idea behind generous benefits for teachers, first-responders and some government workers is that in order to draw personnel from generally more lucrative work in the private sector, a..."

Yes, and we thought it was difficult to draw competent people into the teaching profession before. Previously, benefits compensated for low salaries, so get ready now for your tax dollars to pay much higher salaries in order to attract good teachers. Or is education even a priority?


message 40: by Michael (new)

Michael BunWat wrote: "When do corporations and millionaires start contributing to this national belt tightening?"

That's a great question. The logic seems to me that millionaires and corporations need lower taxes so they can put that money into creating jobs. Yet, corporate profits are rising and there are no jobs so where is that money going? Also, if President Obama is so bad for business why is the Dow back above 12,000?


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael BunWat wrote: "I'm just getting steadily more fed up with the theory that we can't afford benefits for union workers, we can't afford universal health care, we can't afford fuel oil assistance programs for the elderly, we can't afford affordable housing programs, we can't afford libraries that stay open all week. Now I'm hearing that we may have to lift caps on class sizes in K-3 classrooms. Its cut this, cut that, cut the other thing."

Don't forget that we also can't afford to take care of our veterans who are lucky enough to make it home. I'll meet you in the 'fed up' corner.


message 42: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17320 comments Mod
::curls up in corner for a nap::


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael The Wisconsin protest's first protest song:

14 Senators


message 44: by Ken (last edited Feb 20, 2011 04:59PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Regarding Maddow's comments: she didn't simply make a figure up, nor knowingly pass along misinformation. The number used by Lang, the non-partisan analyst, by his own admission, may or may not represent the eventual actual budget figure because of assumptions he makes in his methodology. However, Maddow's reliance on a local Madison newspaper, and a non-partisan legislative and budget specialist in Wisconsin as sources strikes me as very far from irresponsible.

Secondly, the question regarding Walker's priorities remains exactly the same: Why is he hitting middle-class workers' finances in order to bring budget numbers into balance in such a way that he may indulge in a massive tax giveaway two years down the road and already on the books. The trade-off remains identical: middle class finances versus breaks for the well-to-do/special interests.

Third, nothing illustrates Walker and his Republican counterparts' agenda better than their insistence, in the face of what by all accounts is a modest budget shortfall, on the draconian action of stripping the union of its collective bargaining rights even after the union has accepted a major financial hit on pensions and health care in its offer of compromise. This is transparently and unambiguously an attempt to destroy the last financial and organizational power (not just in Wisconsin) available to Democrats in attempting to counter the perennial advantage of massive corporate spending on behalf of Republicans. In the wake of the Citizens United case, with its novel and unprecedented gift of individual citizenship rights to corporations, and free speech rights to corporate money, there already was very little political and electoral power left standing between complete domination of the country at all levels by corporations, the wealthy and the entitled and any minimal voice for the interests of the rest.

Anyone who cares about the future of this country should take note of the seminal importance of this battle taking place in Wisconsin now because it encapsulates the real stakes for America now, Ground Zero if you will for several central dliemas facing the country.


message 45: by Donitello (new)

Donitello | 148 comments I agree, Ken. We should probably do more than take note.

The Brits have responded to the whole Middle-Class-Belt-Tightening con quite nicely, I think. A small group of citizens noticed that all the in cuts their government's made to social spending added up to £7 billion. Yet ONE British corporation alone (Vodafone) owed £6 billion in back taxes, a debt that had been forgiven by the government.

http://www.thenation.com/article/1582...

“It was clear to us that if this one company had been made to pay its taxes, almost all these people could have been kept from being forced out of their homes,” says Sam Greene, another of the protesters. “We keep being told there’s no alternative to cutting services. This just showed it was rubbish. So we decided we had to do something.”

They resolved to set up an initial protest that would prick people’s attention. They called themselves UK Uncut and asked several liberal-left journalists, on Twitter (full disclosure: I was one of them), to announce a time and place where people could meet “to take direct action protest against the cuts and show there’s an alternative.” People were urged to gather at 9:30 am on a Wednesday morning outside the Ritz hotel in central London and look for an orange umbrella. More than sixty people arrived, and they went to one of the busiest Vodafone stores—on Oxford Street, the city’s biggest shopping area—and sat down in front of it so nobody could get in.

“What really struck me is that when we explained our reasons, ordinary people walking down Oxford Street were incredibly supportive,” says Alex Miller, a 31-year-old nurse. “People would stop and tell us how they were terrified of losing their homes and their jobs—and when they heard that virtually none of it had to happen if only these massive companies paid their taxes, they were furious. Several people stopped what they were doing, sat down and joined us. I guess it’s at that point that I realized this was going to really take off....

UK Uncut organized entirely on Twitter, asking what it should do next and taking votes. There was an embarrassment of potential targets: the National Audit Office found in 2007 that a third of the country’s top 700 corporations paid no tax at all. UK Uncut decided to expose and protest one of the most egregious alleged tax dodgers: Sir Philip Green. He is the ninth-richest man in the country, running some of the leading High Street chain stores, including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and British Home Stores. Although he lives and works in Britain, and his companies all operate on British streets, he avoids British taxes by claiming his income is “really” earned by his wife, who lives in the tax haven of Monaco. In 2005 the BBC calculated that he earned £1.2 billion and paid nothing in taxes—dodging more than £300 million in taxes.... The protesters pointed out that if Green was made to pay taxes, the entire program could be saved, with more than £120 million left as small change. So they declared a day of action....

The UK Uncut message was simple: if you want to sell in our country, you pay our taxes. They are the membership fee for a civilized society. Most of the protesters I spoke with had never attended a demonstration before, but were driven to act by the rising unemployment, insecurity and austerity that are being outpaced only by rising rewards for the superrich....

The protests began to influence the political debate. Public opinion had already been firmly for pursuing tax dodgers, with 77 percent telling YouGov pollsters there should be a crackdown. But by dramatizing and demonstrating this mood, the protesters forced it onto the agenda—and stripped away Cameron’s claims that there was no alternative to his cuts.



message 46: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I yearn for the days everyone associated my state with cheese and the fonz.


message 47: by Ken (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments RandomAnthony wrote: "I yearn for the days everyone associated my state with cheese and the fonz."

I’ve always associated it with “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the Packers, Jeffrey Dahmer and Old Milwaukee (burp).


message 48: by Ken (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Hosni Mubarak Walker is upping the ante (elevating the reprisal threat).

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_wiscons...

Wisconsin governor warns of layoff notices


message 49: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 22, 2011 10:59AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Not the Brewers, Ken? Everyone forgets the Brewers and Ed Gein.

There's a fonz statue downtown along the river, Barb!

http://iimiquizclub.files.wordpress.c...

Isn't it creepy?


message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments Ken wrote: "Hosni Mubarak Walker is upping the ante (elevating the reprisal threat).

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_wiscons...

Wisconsin governor warns of layoff notices"


Not sure that it is much of a threat, not that it won't happen, but it seems inevitable even with the concessions that he is asking for.


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