Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gaddafi Republicans -- in Wisconsin

Gaddafi Republicans -- in Wisconsin

So now, collective bargaining is out the window.

This Gaddafi Republican crew just doesn't get it.

Like the disoriented Libyan leader, Governor Walker simply chooses not to grasp the predictable consequences of his actions against the masses. AKA workers.

Walker/Koch Brothers does not appear to be competent to grasp the fact that workers (that's who MOST Wisconsinites are, workers) need to talk together and plan together ("collective bargaining") to set priorities in their career-long occupations.
Wisc workers already pay ALL (100%, that's right) of their pension and health insurance. How do they do that? During "collective bargaining" they enter into a CONTRACT (contractual agreements are enforceable in any court, whether you buy a dog or lease a car or teach kindergarten). In such contracts, the employees and the state AGREE, under law, to set aside so much of workers' EARNED wages (not trust accounts from their wealthy parents) for pensions, so much for healthcare, so much for professional development, etc. It's all coming out of workers earned wages. Get it, Walker?
What Walker and his corporate cronies are proposing to engage in, is theft -- stealing a portion of workers' WAGES, to fill a budget deficit caused partly by tax cuts for wealthy businesses who make their money partly by cutting jobs at home and/or sending jobs -- Wisconsin workers' jobs, overseas.

In other words, Doug Schoen of Fox News (see link below), your analysis is seriously flawed -- it's not the workers of Wisconsin, but the Gaddafi Republicans like Walker and crew, who bring the despots of West Asia and North Africa (most supported by the US govt. BTW) to mind.

And, while I'm on the point of your received canonical wisdom --

Middle East?
Middle of What?
East of Where? (A Brit colonial construct, us post-colonialists -- from India to Libya -- don't buy it).

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Wisconsin Union Protests Prove the Midwest Is Now America's Middle East

By Doug Schoen

Published March 04, 2011

Chithra KarunaKaran,

Gaddafi is beating up on his own people in Benghazi, about the same time as the Gaddafi Republicans are feeling right at home -- in Wisconsin.
But not for long.

The union-busting tactics of Wisconsin's Republicans led by Governor Walker show a disturbing, anti-people, anti-worker governance strategy.

Scott Walker showed his anti-people stance when he unknowingly took a prank call from a young Buffalo-based journalist, Ian Murphy, editor in chief of the Buffalo Beast, impersonating a major right wing conservative donor, David Koch.

In this 20-minute taped call, which has since gone viral, Walker amply demonstrated that he is primarily interested in furthering the private vested interests of wealthy, radical political ideologues in corporations like Koch Industries, that have poured money into Walker's election campaigns. Walker is clearly opposed to creating and maintaining public services and jobs in the cash-strapped mid-western state.

Wisconsin's union workers have (reluctantly) already agreed to significant givebacks and other concessions.
But in the past 10 days the Gaddafi Republicans, led by Walker/Koch are in serious overreach mode.
Instead of discussion and more negotiations with unions, Governor Walker has literally shut down and shut out any further discussion.

This anti-worker, anti-people, anti-democratic strategy is guaranteed to fail because there's one thing that labor can and will do -- Labor will ORGANIZE.

That is what Labor is all about. Organizing.

Labor will organize and labor will prevent Governor Walker from carrying out his executive agenda. It's happening right now, not only in Wisconsin but in every state, because EVERY state has workers!

The main point here is that Gaddafi Republican leaders are determined to dismantle workers' negotiating rights in Wisconsin.

Walker's diktat is NOT about balancing the budget or growing jobs. Far from it. This is all about taking away working people's rights to negotiate so that workers continue to have and keep their jobs, and grow more jobs, in solidarity with their fellow workers.
This is kinda like saying to me on a personal level(I belong to the Professors' union at my public uni.):

"You can't ask your family what they want, before you go shopping for groceries." That's collective bargaining in your family and mine.

It is this anti-people, anti-worker, anti-democratic strategy that merits my analysis of the governor and his fellow lawmakers as Gaddafi Republicans.
That Walker , in addition, is almost as self-deluding as Gaddafi (my people love me, even though they are clearly showing they don't!)gives strength to my argument.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

copyrighted by
Wisconsin Public Workers Agree to GOP's Demands on Wages and Benefits; Republicans Reject Offer Outright

Some pundits continue to buy Scott Walker's spin that the Wisconsin uprising is a response to the governor's efforts to get his state's public employees to shoulder more of the burden for their health-care and pension costs, but the reality is that it's all about the union-busting.

In fact, according to the Milwaukee Business Times, the unions have agreed to all of the GOP's demands on wages and benefits, in exchange for Republicans dropping the provision that would strip them of the right to negotiate in the future.

Although union leaders and Wisconsin Democratic Senators are offering to accept the wage and benefit concessions Gov. Scott Walker is demanding, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said today a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is not negotiable.

Democrats and union leaders said they're willing to agree to the parts of Walker's budget repair bill that would double their health insurance contributions and require them to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to their pensions. However, the union leaders want to keep their collective bargaining rights.

"I have been informed that all state and local public employees – including teachers - have agreed to the financial aspects of Governor Walker's request," Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) said. "This includes Walker's requested concessions on public employee health care and pension. In return they ask only that the provisions that deny their right to collectively bargain are removed. This will solve the budget challenge. This is a real opportunity for us to come together and resolve the issue and move on. It is incumbent upon Governor Walker to seriously consider and hopefully accept this offer as soon as possible."

However, Fitzgerald said the terms of the bill are not negotiable, and he called upon Democrats who left the state this week to stall a vote on the bill to return to the Capitol.

Earlier this week, Walker had said his bill was strictly based on the need to cut the budget and was not based on any political agenda.

Reporters who continue to portray this as a fight over wages and benefits are now committing journalistic malpractice.
By Joshua Holland | Sourced from AlterNet
Posted at February 20, 2011, 9:16 am
WiscFacts (adapted by me, from Associated Press article)Facts overshadowed in debate over union bill By SCOTT BAUER and PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Scott Bauer And Patrick Condon, Associated Press – Sat Feb 26, 4:32 pm ET
AP copyright
Walker says his plan is needed to ease a deficit that is projected to hit $137 million by July and $3.6 billion by mid-2013.
The budget as it stands now is balanced, and Walker is under no legal obligation to make changes.
But by mid-summer, the state could come up short on cash to pay its bills, largely because of a projected $169 million shortfall in its Medicaid program.
Walker's plan comes up with the money for this year by refinancing debt to save $165 million and forcing state employees to pay for half the cost of their pensions and twice their current health care premiums. That is equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut.

Those increases in benefit contributions would raise $30 million by July and $300 million over the next two years.

But the flashpoint is his proposed elimination of collective bargaining rights.

Nearly all state and local government workers would be forbidden from bargaining for any wage increases beyond the rate of inflation.

Walker argues the sweeping step is necessary to balance the budget not only over the next two years but into the future. School districts, cities, counties and other local governments need the flexibility, he says, to deal with more than $1 billion in state aid cuts Walker will announce Tuesday in his two-year budget plan.

Walker has refused even to consider some of the other ways to raise the massive amount of money needed.
He is resolved not to raise taxes — an option used by Democrats who controlled the Legislature when the state faced a deficit that was nearly twice as large as the one Walker inherited. The Democrats also relied heavily on federal stimulus aid, which the state does not have available this time around.
Not raising taxes and not tapping federal aid leaves Walker with few alternatives other than reducing the money the state gives to schools and local governments or reducing Medicaid to the extent allowed under federal law.
Aid to schools and local governments is more than half of the entire state budget. Medical assistance programs are 9 percent, as is funding for the state prison system and money for the University of Wisconsin system.

Walker won't make cuts to the prisons, but he's expected to make deep reductions in higher education.
Walker's bill gives his administration the power to make any changes necessary to Medicaid to save money, regardless of current law and without approval of the Legislature.

Medicaid is a $1.2 billion part of the budget, but even with the freedom the bill gives him, Walker will be hamstrung by federal law that limits how many cost-saving changes states can make without a waiver.

Walker's new health department secretary, Dennis Smith, is a former federal Medicaid official who has advocated that states drop out of the program entirely. That position and others taken by Smith are worrisome to advocates for the poor, disabled and elderly, who are largely the beneficiaries of the program.

Walker has not released details of what he may cut in Medicaid. At least some of the cuts will be contained in his budget coming out Tuesday.
But the key to that plan, according to Walker, is ending collective bargaining rights. Doing that isn't about busting unions, Walker argues, but balancing budgets.
If he's intent on using cuts in state aid to balance the budget, eliminating collective bargaining does go a long way to achieving one of his key goals — giving local communities the ability to deal with the reductions.
With 3,000 units of government in Wisconsin, all in various stages of contractual negotiations, eliminating collective bargaining may be the only way they could quickly deal with the cuts, said Todd Berry, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Walker has also threatened that if the bill doesn't pass, up to 1,500 people may be laid off by July in order to achieve the savings necessary to balance the budget, with another 6,000 layoffs by the middle of 2013, with an equal number on the local level.
That layoff threat is a real possibility if schools are going to see a large cut in aid and have their ability to raise property taxes restricted, Berry said.
"If 80 percent of your budget is personnel, and you're having state and your property tax revenues reduced while your costs are going up, you can't solve your problem without addressing compensation," Berry said.
In that case, "you only have two choices — reduce the number of people or keep the people and reduce the amount of compensation," he said.
Karen Bloczynski, a fourth-grade teacher in Marshfield, said she expects to be laid off under Walker's plan. With 35 years of experience and a $70,000 salary, Bloczynski said she's more expensive than younger colleagues.
Bloczynski said she's sent letters to a local electrician, a furniture store and several restaurants warning them they're likely to feel the effect.
"Teachers spend money in their communities," she said.
Teachers have been a large part of the protests that have enveloped the Capitol for 11 days, including a massive 68,000 person demonstration. The statewide teachers union represents about 39,000 people.
The central part of Walker's argument is that government workers have long escaped painful cuts that those in the private sector have had to bear. That ignores the fact that under Walker's processor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, state workers were forced to take furlough days that amounted to a 3 percent pay cut. State employees have also not had a raise for more than two years.
Even so, Walker has portrayed public employees as the "haves" and private workers as the "have nots," saying government workers can afford trims to their salaries and benefits because on average they earn more than private-sector workers.
This is true as a straight average, but several national reports of public versus private pay say it's also misleading.
In a report released in December 2010, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average state/local government worker earns $40.10 an hour in salary and benefits. The same report found the average private worker earns $27.68 an hour in salary and benefits.
But the report was quick to note that this is not a direct comparison. Government workers tend to be better-educated than their private-sector counterparts, and government jobs are more likely to be professional or managerial as opposed to the many more manufacturing and sales jobs in the private workforce.
In fact, studies that compare salaries and benefits for similar jobs between the public and private sectors show that government workers lag.
An April 2010 report by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence — a nonpartisan, Washington-based group with Republicans and Democrats on its board of directors — found that in 2008, state workers nationwide earned 11 percent less and local workers earned 12 percent less than private workers with comparable education levels.
The same study found that in Wisconsin between 2000 and 2008, total compensation for state and local workers was less than comparable private sector workers.
Jeff McArthur, a sergeant at Black River Correctional Center, estimated under Walker's plan he would lose about $400 a month from his $45,000-a-year salary. The 41-year-old father of three said his family would definitely feel the difference.
"The first things that are going to go are luxury things," McArthur said. "We'll cut back on our cable. We'll cut back on our cell phones. We won't take family trips, stuff like that. We are not rich. We just want to have a good middle class life. We're not looking to be rich. We're just looking to get by."
UPDATE -- WI judge puts restraining order for 2 months on Walker union-busting law.

Yahoo/AP copyright
Wisconsin union rights law on hold for 2 months

Scott Walker AP – Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) answers questions from the media after reading to Anna Greenman's third grade …

Thousands protest anti-union bill in Wisconsin Slideshow:Thousands protest anti-union bill in Wisconsin

By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press – Fri Apr 1, 9:17 pm ET

MADISON, Wis. – A week ago, Wisconsin Republicans thought they'd won the fight over the state's polarizing union rights bill. They'd weathered massive protests, outfoxed Senate Democrats who fled the state and gotten around a restraining order blocking the law by having an obscure state agency publish it. They even started preparations to pull money from public workers' paychecks.

But the victory was short-lived. A judge ruled Friday that the restraining order will stay in place for at least two months she while considers whether Republicans passed the law illegally. It was the second blow to Republicans in as many days after the same judge declared Thursday that the law hadn't been properly published and wasn't in effect as they claimed.

Republicans now must either wait for the case to wind its way through the courts or pass the law again to get around complaints it wasn't done properly the first time. One GOP leader said Friday he didn't see much point in that.

"We passed the law correctly, legally the first time," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Passing the law correctly and legally a second or third time wouldn't change anything. It certainly wouldn't stop another activist judge and (a) room full of lawyers from trying to start this merry-go-round all over again."

The law would force public employees to pay more for their health care and pension benefits, which amounts to an 8 percent pay cut. It also would eliminate their ability to collectively bargain anything except wage increases no higher than inflation.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said the law is needed to help schools and local governments deal with cuts in state funding he expects to make to address an estimated $3.6 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget. His spokesman referred questions Friday to state Department of Administration officials, who declined to comment.

Democrats have said the bill is meant to weaken the public employee unions that have been some of their strongest campaign supporters. Its introduction in mid-February set off a month of protests that drew up to 85,000 people to the state Capitol and sent Senate Democrats scurrying to Illinois to block a vote in that chamber.

Republicans eventually got around the Democrats' boycott by removing fiscal provisions from the bill so it could be passed with fewer senators present.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi has been considering a lawsuit that claims Republican lawmakers violated the state's opening meetings law when they met to change the bill. The lawsuit filed by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne says the state's open meetings law requires 24 hours notice of a meeting but Republicans provided barely two. Republican legislative leaders say proper notice was given under Senate rules.

Sumi heard testimony Friday from people who said they heard about the meeting only minutes before it began. They said they arrived to find long lines at the Capitol's entrances and by the time they reached the room where the meeting was held, police wouldn't allow them in.

Rich Judge, chief of staff for Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, testified that someone dropped off a petition at Barca's office the night of the meeting that was signed by nearly 3,000 people who claimed they had been denied access.

Brian Gleason of Madison testified he reached the Senate parlor, where the committee hearing was being held, about 20 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. He found a crowd of about 150 people and a line of police standing shoulder to shoulder denying access.

"Frankly, I was angry," he said. "At that point, the train going into the Senate parlor was already closed to me."

Sumi gave the attorneys until May 23 to make additional arguments, delaying a decision for nearly two months and possibly longer. Even when she does rule, one side or the other is likely to appeal in an attempt to get the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The state has already appealed her restraining order to the high court, but it has not said whether it will hear the case and is under no deadline to do so.

Two other, separate lawsuits also have been filed, which could further drag out the matter.

Anger over the bill also has prompted recall efforts against 16 state senators, including eight from each party. On Friday, Democrats announced they had collected enough signatures for a recall election against one of the Republicans.

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