Social Question

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Protests in Wisconsin are spreading to other parts of the country. Is this just a flash in the pan, or is it going to change politics?

Asked by IchtheosaurusRex (8656points) February 18th, 2011

I’ve already heard that folks back home in Ohio are mounting similar protests. Is it a sign that 1960’s-style activism is returning to the streets of America, or will it just all go away when it fails to influence politicians who’ve already made up their minds? Will there be violence?

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169 Answers

mammal's avatar

What exactly are the protestations?

sinscriven's avatar

I would hope so. The American public has been rather lethargic for quite some time and it’s encouraging that people are getting ticked off enough to start becoming activist for their own rights instead of the manufactured dissent that comes from the Tea Party.

jlelandg's avatar

I would hope not. The American public has been rather in need of change for quite some time and it’s discouraging that unions are telling people lies and are making them ticked off enough to start becoming activist for their Union’s life instead of thinking for themselves .

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@jlelandg , what lies are they telling?

janbb's avatar

The people are an ass. Oh – we don’t want to spend any money so let’s elect Tea Partiers. What – you’re not going to pay for that!!

marinelife's avatar

It depends on if the movement to end collective bargaining becomes more widespread. It is union busting at its worst.

wundayatta's avatar

The protests are by the state public employee unions who are protesting legislative efforts to take their pensions back and to prevent them from collective bargaining. I doubt that what the states want to do is legal. Although government employees have different bargaining rules than private sector employees have.

In any case, there will be law suits over anything the legislatures try to do in order to take back money from government workers. They might last long enough that the economy will come back, and states will be able to afford to honor their agreements.

Obviously, I think it’s a stupid thing for legislators to do. Just a waste of energy that won’t really do anything, but it’ll make the Republicans look like they are doing something, and when the economy comes back, they’ll get reelected.

It’s also dubious on other grounds. If state employees see their compensation cut relative to their expectations, they’ll start to go elsewhere. The government wants to cut staff, but that means fewer services and longer waits for service.

They will cut back on health care and mental health care and social services and housing, which will create short term savings, but long term it will vastly increase costs. Poverty will rise, and eventually the states will have much larger messes on their hands than they would have had they found ways of maintaining health and housing programs.

Of course, there is no money. At least, not from taxes. Perhaps states could borrow more, but no one seems to be in a mood for that. They just want to throw up their hands in the air and walk away from all responsibilities except that of wielding the budget hacking ax.

Jaxk's avatar

They are union workers. Yes violence is one of their tools.

I find it interesting that the ‘Tea Parties’ are discredited while the union are legitimate. The Tea Parties say ‘don’t give our money to the overpaid unions and bloated government’, while the unions say ‘yes, give us our money and take it from everybody else’. The unions are organized while the Tea Parties are grass roots.

And I love the comment “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Guess what, we’re broke. It needs fixing.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@Jaxk , TPers have as much of a right to peaceably protest as union members or anyone else. I don’t find anything illegitimate in either case. I suppose the point is, will politicians even pay attention?

CaptainHarley's avatar

I think that if the unions ( and whomever else! ) don’t want to cut state and federal governments’ budgets to the bone, then we should allow the government to shut down. It’s time to get serious about entitlements, overpaid union workers, and governmental waste.

sinscriven's avatar

@Jaxk To call the tea party “grassroots” is like calling Cool Whip “natural”

There’s heavy funding from the Koch family, there’s a disproportionate amount of coverage for them on fox news, and for all their “Get the government out of the business of people” mantra, they’re pretty hard on for giving more cuts to the top 2% and sort of completely ignoring the Patriot act renewal.

If they were true libertarians they’d be foaming at the month with all of the government bullying, would be for shutting down the TSA and Killing the patriot act . But it seems they are oddly obsessed with cutting taxes instead of fixing problems.

It doesn’t add up.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@sinscriven

What ELSE would you call the “tea party” than grassroots? I know quite a number of them and they’re almost exclusively middle class taxpayers who are fed up with being ignored.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Just a reminder to stay on topic, kids. More street protests coming, or does it all go away when the pols ignore them?

Jaxk's avatar

@sinscriven

What exactly makes you think the Tea Parties are Libertarian? They have very narrowly focussed goals. Smaller government and less spending. For all the efforts to hijack the Tea Parties it hasn’t worked. If you want to know what they are all about, you’ll never find out by reading the Huffington Post.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@sinscriven

You sound suspiciously like Jerry Rubin: “Revolution for the Hell of It.”

zenvelo's avatar

@Jaxk What violence are you speaking of? Why cast aspersions on peaceful assembly?

sinscriven's avatar

@CaptainHarley I call it a scarily successful play by the obscenely wealthy to encourage the disenfranchised conservative voter to vote against their own better interests, throw in some lip service to social issues that conservatives care about, bomb the media with exposure, then profit!

Do people who identify with them have legitimate gripes? Absolutely, but what drives the machine as a whole is not the interest of the people. When the republicans hold bills blackmail that would give good cuts to the middle class because they didn’t extend to that top uberwealthy and that they would rather slash education and things like social services, and encourage their voters to vote for things that would allow the health insurance companies to brutally ream them as if it were the most patriotic thing ever. That should really give people pause.

The villanizing of liberals is no mistake either.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@sinscriven

Obviously we don’t agree.

Judi's avatar

It’s about time! “We the people” need to stand up for the people instead of letting fox propaganda organize a bunch of sheep to help them and corporate interests take over!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Judi

So who, exactly, are “we the people?” Does that include me?

sinscriven's avatar

@CaptainHarley . Seems to be the case. I still think it’s disingenuous to call the it a grass roots movement by the conservative middle class when there is so much money funding it coming from sources that count their worth in the billions.

The rest, I agree is highly subjective.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@sinscriven

The mere possession of money does not make one a criminal. Are you motivated by jealousy?

iamthemob's avatar

@CaptainHarley

I don’t see any allegations of “criminal” activity.

In order to be unethical, greedy…even evil…one needn’t be a criminal. Are you motivated by complacency?

tedd's avatar

I’m behind the Unions on this one… My reason being I know teachers, police men, and Fire fighters are not paid that well at all (ESPECIALLY teachers). The education you have to go through to be a teacher is outrageous, and then the pay sucks, its a job you have to love to do. Police men and Fire fighters are better off, and in a lot of cases probably paid adequately… but to take away pensions and benefits that these people need and likely couldn’t afford on the free market…. thats stupid… Especially after having promised them to them for their entire careers.

What REALLY does it for me though, is breaking collective bargaining. I don’t care if you don’t like Unions… if the people aren’t allowed to rally together for a cause, then you are violating a core principle of this very country.

If the Republicans really wanted to fix the economy in those states they would sit down with those Unions, and hammer out a compromise… rather than just throw some huge hatchet job plan into the congressional works just to appease the Tea Partiers who elected them, without really taking into account what they’re doing.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@iamthemob

Oh. Excuse me for not properly qualifying my remarks.

The mere possession of money does not, in my opinion, open the door to being treated, or even thought of, as a criminal.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@tedd

Why am I not surprised?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Does anyone think the presence of protesters in Madison will change the outcome of this legislation? Will it matter in the next general election there?

iamthemob's avatar

@CaptainHarley

Still problematic, though – the problem is that @tedd was calling out the description of a particular movement being “grassroots” when there are implications that it was manufactured to further interests having nothing to do with those that it purports to represent.

Now, whether that means the movement represents interests counter to rather than in addition to those of the masses that it has targeted to support the movement is a different and interesting question, so I don’t think that we should claim that this is an attempt to_dupe_ the public into acting against its interest – but, revealing the interests behind it is important so that we can be properly suspicious and critical of it.

tedd's avatar

@CaptainHarley Because you read my posts on fluther? :)

Judi's avatar

It’s the people without the power or resources to fight corporate greed and manipulation. It’s the weaker and more vulnerable whose only defense is “one person, one vote. ”
Propaganda by those with money and power have manipulated some of the weakest among us to vote against their own self interest, but I have faith that eventually, we will turn it around.

“in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” Barrack Obama

tedd's avatar

Protests never really matter imo. At least rarely. People protested against the healthcare bill at end, it didn’t change a thing. People are protesting this at end, but it will probably pass. People protest things all the damn time… Politicians don’t care. One group will use it as fuel to “power” them into power in the next election, one will blindly ignore it. Both parties do it, and I doubt it will stop here (even if the protesters win in this case).

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
iamthemob's avatar

I, like @Jaxk, do wonder at the fact and find it interesting that there is a disconnect between criticism of the Tea Party and that of unions. Unions contribute to massive inefficiencies, are huge lobbying forces influencing legislation, and don’t clearly have a legitimate claim to the power they yield when worker rights are significantly more protected by general legislation than they were when unions began to organize.

Although I feel like it needs to be clarified that violence is a tool of pretty much any organized group, the viewpoint is alternative. And, an important one.

Jaxk's avatar

@mammal

Ah, that was certainly descriptive. Apparently only liberals have the right to voice opinions. Or is it that only liberals Have opinions (the rest of us are duped). We have a tendency to ‘vote against our best interests’. Of course our ‘best interests’ are defined by (drum roll) Liberals.

Since I have no opinion, I will continue to spew the opinions of my masters. Sorry.

VS's avatar

@tedd protests never really matter?
I wouldn’t be saying that in Eqypt – and quite frankly, I think the relative success of the protests there are part of what is spurring Americans to think, hell, if it can work for them, it should certainly work for us here in a democracy.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@VS

They would, but against whom are we to protest? The people we elected? The government bureaucracy? The military? Each other??

The unions in Wisconsin are protests in the Greek mode: “Yeah, I know we need to cut the budget down, but not by cutting anything that affects ME!”

tedd's avatar

I meant protests in America. People protest legislation all the time…. It rarely makes a difference n the outcome… It may get someone else elected the next time, but then people on the other side will just protest things that person does… and the cycle repeats.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

Just a point of difference here. First Teachers are not under paid. Frankly they have a pretty sweet job. Typically working 9 months a year and employment for life.

But the real problem here is the collective bargaining since the unions are not really bargaining with employers. They are bargaining against politicians that aren’t spending their own money but rather taxpayers money. That’s why they’ve gotten the huge concessions over time on salary and benefits that public employees earn. There is no restraint or fiscal responsibility at the bargaining table.

And just for grins, how does a four year degree become such an incredible educational burden?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@tedd

Couldn’t have said it better myself, but then again, I’m kinda out of the public education loop lo these many years. : )

cockswain's avatar

I lived in Madison for 15 years and know a lot of the protesters there personally. I’ve been seeing dozens of posts on Facebook of links to articles about the situation, political spin from both sides, and lots of photos of high school and college buddies holding signs.

That said, I think it is worthwhile to actually look at the actual bill and this PolitiFact article to help distill out some of the rhetoric.

Of particular interest, note the bit on p26 of the bill about discharging employees.

To answer the question of the OP, I don’t think the protests in Madison will stop the bill. Madison is unique in that state, and the state did vote out some prominent Dems in the mid-term. This is what the GOP wants, and they seem to have the votes to pass it (when the Dems return form IA and IL).

But the energy from the protests will likely carry over to the 2012 election, and the Dems will get an edge from it.

cockswain's avatar

@Jaxk First Teachers are not under paid.

Come on buddy, seriously?

iamthemob's avatar

I think we might want to separate teacher pay into two separate issues:

(1) Teaching is, I believe, the most important position one can hold in our society. Therefore, the fact that a teacher should ever be anything but comfortably compensated is counterintuitive, and I believe that generally teachers are underpaid.

(2) There are far, far, far to many teachers that are underqualified to do their jobs, and are protected under many union contracts from being held responsible for holding back rather than pushing forward education. This is the negative effect of unions, and means that many of these teachers should be considered overpaid.

Average out those two factors, and it’s reasonable to see why some people don’t think teachers are underpaid.

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk I dated a teacher, and my former room mate is a teacher. Without a masters degree neither will make more then 35k a year… ever.

And as far as education being a burden. I have a 4 year degree. I went to the Ohio State University and graduated in Chemistry. Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for many scholarships, or any government subsidy help. I paid for my education entirely out of my own pocket. As a result I graduated about 135 thousand dollars in debt. I need to make about 40k MINIMUM per year just to pay my student loans back at bare minimum rates. I can’t consolidate because no companies are consolidating right now because of the economy. I am glad I have my education, but in the short run I’d have been far better off, and have far more excess money, if I had not gone to school.

Now imagine how a teacher, who is just starting and probably making less than 30,000 a year feels about their student loans.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob Like so many other things in the US (like regulatory reform), the unions could use a good going over.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd and @cockswain

Teachers make on average about $50,000. Benefits take that up another 50%. Most require a four year degree not a masters. And let’s not forget the 9 month work year. Sounds like a pretty sweet job. I have two nieces that are teachers and a brother that is superintendent of schools. None are out looking for another job. Applicants for teaching are and have never been, in short supply nor do teachers leave the profession. They have a tendency to stay through retirement. That’s because it is a pretty sweet job.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

Averages are often the worst indicators of whether the pay received is enough. The nature of the work is important, the length of the day and expectations of results from it need to be taken into account, the geographic region, etc. etc.

Let’s also recognize that saying that professionals in a certain area are “underpaid” is not saying that they are not paid well enough to live (which is above surviving, mind you) – merely whether they are paid enough.

Sure, based on that it sounds like a pretty sweet job – until you have to deal with a bunch of rowdy teenagers, angry parents, educational bureaucracy, etc.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

First if you’re not comfortable with dealing with a bunch of rowdy kids, you shouldn’t be teaching. Second, most of the bureaucracy is generated by the Department of Education (not to mention a lot of the rowdiness).

Here is a fair article on the topic. They make to assessment of good or bad just talk to the issues.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m sorry “they make no assessment good or bad”

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk The numbers your looking at include teachers who have a masters degree, administrators, and I would wager possibly even college professors.

I have seen the pay scale at 3 schools (2 from the ex g/f, 1 from the room mate). Without a masters degree, you’re not getting over the mid 30k range in pay. And also with the whole 9 month thing, you’re ignoring that on top of the typical 40 hours they already work at the school a week, they will often spend ANOTHER 40 hours at home doing prep work for the next day. My former g/f would often get home at 5pm or so, and work until 10:30–11 just preparing things for school. I would wager teachers work more in 9 months than most people do in 12. Also you’re ignoring that teachers do not receive the same summer break students do, and in fact have to work for up to a month before and after the year starts.

And this is still ignoring that a 4 year degree costs an average of 100k, at PUBLIC universities. How is a teacher who had to pay for it entirely out of pocket supposed to afford that?

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

Reasonable – but it’s not really on point with what I’m saying. Simply that a claim that teachers are underpaid is more a comment on value, rather than a strict numbers game (and @tedd just pointed out some of the problems with the numbers that I was implying – the issue of averaging creating a skewed view of the actual issue). ;-)

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

Actually I’m not ignoring anything. Read the article I posted for @iamthemob. It is a fair representation and looks at teachers not administrators. If you’re taking a room mates position that they aren’t paid enough, I would take that with a grain of salt. Everyone thinks they’re not paid enough.

You’re numbers on the extra work they put in are highly exaggerated. Even teachers themselves only think they put in a couple of extra hours a day. Hell, I did better than that my entire working career.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

I’m sorry, you lost me. I have no idea what wrong with the numbers. Nor do I see how this is not a numbers game. Private school teachers make on average half what a public school teacher makes. Teacher salaries compared to the industry or the rest of the population is a value statement as well. And unfortunately @tedd just made up those numbers so I can’t see how that pertains.

cockswain's avatar

@Jaxk I scanned the article, but I don’t know if it’s worthwhile to discuss the finer points since it is generally using data from ~1995. What do you think? Do you have something more current?

Also, the fact that it talks about adding benefits into salary makes it tougher to compare with most jobs that do not report that data.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

This is based on 2005 BLS reports, and tihs is a very recent article.

I do think that @Jaxk makes a good point in that we should understand how much teachers are getting paid in reality before making the argument that they are “threatened,” etc.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

My point is simply that the numbers, although important to understand before we make certain particularized arguments about teacher’s pay (e.g., “Teachers in x area are being unfairly treated compared to other professions or government workers”), doesn’t clearly relate to a claim that teachers are underpaid – which is more of a values or belief-based claim. It requires looking not only at the facts of the profession, but also what we think it should do, how it benefits us all overall, etc.

Jaxk's avatar

@cockswain

Here’s something more recent from Teacher’s World that seems to think salaries and benefits are quite lucrative.

As for benefits between public and private industry, surveys are all over the net. Here’s just a quick sample I pulled at random.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

That’s a great esoteric question but the numbers are what is being protested in Wisconsin. The numbers are also what sparked the legislation. The numbers are also what the teachers use to say they aren’t getting the respect they deserve. No matter what argument you use, they all come back to the numbers.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

last time, folks, this isn’t a question about teachers’ salaries, it’s a question about activism and the political environment.

I’m old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war protests. We have not had a significant level of street activism in this country since those days. Then, as now, there was a good deal of political polarization in this country. There was immense dissatisfaction with the response of the government. It’s seemed to me that these circumstances could ultimately lead to the same levels of social upheaval. That’s what the question was about.

But don’t let me interrupt.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

The numbers are not what are being protested in Wisconsin. They are a part of it – but a great part of the concern is what is a drastic revamping of a huge sector of employees. It potentially removes a lot of contract and bargaining rights of public-sector employees. Now, whatever the problems with unions, part of the problem here is that the government is the employer – in many ways, there is almost no employer competition. That’s a dangerous thing.

Regardless of the fact that unions have their menacing effects – we’re transferring decisions from a negotiation between unions and the government over to the government only. And it also undermines aspects of the fundamental Constitutional right to freedom of contract.

I think it’s correct to be gravely concerned.

Ron_C's avatar

I certainly hope this changes politics. There is and has been a deliberate effort from the right to completely abolish Unions. The right doesn’t much care for democracy anyway and there is just too much democracy when the employees can speak the truth the the employers. Just look how the republican party is run. The members (at least until the last election) marched in lock-step with the leadership. The individual members seemed willing to throw themselves on their swords to uphold the party line. Unfortunately, the democrats never held up their swords.

Reagan started the anti-union sentiment and the majority of us seem to think that union members are just lazy greedy complainers. We forget that all we have in the middle class, even the existence of the middle class is owed to our union forefathers.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

“And it also undermines aspects of the fundamental Constitutional right to freedom of contract.”

That right was lost the moment we gave unions the right to require that all employees join the union. The contracts are not between the workers and the employers, they’re between the unions and the employees.

And just for drill,m the government is the elected representative of the union worker as well as everyone else. You can’t pretend the workers aren’t represented.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m sorry (again) between the ‘Unions and the Employers’. The employees have no voice.

Ron_C's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex This strike is about Wisconsin’s governor creating a situation where the state is in debt (he spent the surplus almost immediately after he entered office) and eliminating unions. Authoritarian governments do not like groups they cannot control and if the governor wins he will, indeed have an authoritarian government.

If Wisconsin is successful in abolishing democracy in the work place, many states are standing in line to do the same thing. Ohio, whose governor already cut teaching jobs wants to spread the misery into other public sector jobs, the same for New Jersey, and Pennsylvania has a former lobbyist that is just chomping at the bit to “bring Pennsylvania under control”. If the protests fail, this is a big chunk taken for the little democracy left in this country. It’s funny, you can all the guns and automatic weapons you want but voting opportunities are severely limited. I expect the future to restrict voting rights to property owners only. This kind of thing already exists in the Southern (anti-union laws) “right to work” states. They have the poorest populations, most uneducated population, and biggest discrepancy between the rich and poor. I think they’re a little sore that slavery was abolished.

A country without uniions and with very high college debt is as close as we can currently get to re-establishing slavery.

Slavery isn’t just for Black people anymore.

Jaxk's avatar

@Ron_C

So can we assume you’re a big union guy? Just a guess. So you want to pit your union against your representative to see who will dole out the most money for you. Good plan, let’s all hope it doesn’t work.

Ron_C's avatar

@Jaxk I was never in a union but I’m a son of a Union Steelworker. My and remember when steelworkers were very poorly paid. My dad said that after the war, he made 5 dollars a day at the National Tube Works.

I have seen the good and bad of unions. I have seen the protect poor workers and I have seen the factory’s attempts to use police and scab workers when they attempted to get a fair wage. Sure there were abuses but the good they brought us all out-weighs the bad. If there were no Unions we would have child labor, no middle class and salary workers would be much poorly paid and subject to all sorts of abuse.

Your remarks, on the other hand, seem like you either an employer, or someone that has been insulated from labor type jobs.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

Listen, again, I’m not stating that I fully support unionization as it is. However, nominally, the point of the union is to ensure that workers have the general ability to bargain on equal scale with their employers – an important point at their inception, and of course completely undermined if workers were able to free-ride on union reps efforts and disregard collective action, or if employees didn’t join and therefore fractured the bargaining power such that it was no power at all. So, in principle, it was meant to defend the right to contract.

Let’s also remember that the union is, again nominally, a democratic organization and is made up of the employees. Much like a government official (nominally).

Finally, it’s of no consequence that government employees are also voters. There are plenty of issues surrounding the power of union lobbies that indeed could be addressed – but, saying that they’re voters so they have a say in the case where there are no unions and the government has complete control is problematic. An employee of a corporation may own shares, but the fact that the employee could try to vote out the board if there are problems with the employment policy isn’t really of any consequence considering that there are thousands of other people who may vote based on their agendas that have nothing to do with how the corporation manages its employees. Saying “You can’t pretend that the workers aren’t represented” therefore is not only wrong, but profoundly mischaracterizes what I stated, and profoundly misrepresents what representation means in this case.

The freedom of contract issues that I’m talking about are in these cases the potential cancellation of contracts that this may indicate – and that’s something the government should not be able to do.

Jaxk's avatar

@Ron_C

Well I have a small business but I’ve been in unions and had jobs without. You’re view of unions in general is a lot different than mine. And frankly, the idea that unions are responsible for work week and the salaries and benefits, is simply misguided. They have done some good and brought some bad. Most of their usefulness has long passed. But this is not about unions in general, it is about public employee unions.

You have to remember that the government is the elected representative of the people. they answer to the electorate. As such they sit on the same side of the table with the employees. So you put the union and the elected representative on one side of the table and no one on the other side. This seems to be what you consider a fair negotiation. The only negotiating is to see how much each can kick into the pie.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

I hear your point about contracts. It’s a good one that I would normally champion. And I am torn on this. The problem with public sector unions is much different than that of private sector (your example of an employee with shares, not withstanding). It is further compounded by the rule that forces employees to join, giving unions more power than they would otherwise be able to exert.

The contract is long term and negotiated by a short term representative who’s forced to represent both sides of the table. This is true even if we ignore how much influence the union had in getting this same guy elected. It’s simply not a contract negotiated in good faith. I have no idea how much time is left in the Wisconsin contracts (if any). I suspect a deal could be struck to finish the existing and make changes based on renewal. But the ability for collective bargaining with the government should be restricted. There are way too many conflicts of interest to be done fairly.

jca's avatar

As this question is in Social, I am going to respond to @Jaxk claim that teachers are so well paid. In NYS, where I live, a teacher in public school can get hired with just a Bachelor’s and Teaching Certificate but then must obtain a Master’s Degree within 5 years. My good friend got a Master’s in mid-life and became a teacher, and starting salary in New York City school system was about $40,000.

Someone with just a Bachelor’s can teach in private or parochial school, but then will make not more than about $25,000 per year (that is around here, Westchester County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, so I can just imagine the salary in Alabama or Mississippi or someplace similar).

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

I have no idea how much time is left in the Wisconsin contracts (if any). I suspect a deal could be struck to finish the existing and make changes based on renewal.

My level of my negative reaction to the legislation is fairly dependent on this fact – I don’t know either. Otherwise, I actually do think that there is a benefit to suggesting such a sweeping change, as unions at this point have to heavy a hand in the entitlement industry.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

I want to respond but it sounds like we’re in substantial agreement (I learned that term from a lawyer friend). As such I afraid to rock the boat. There have been so few occurrences where I see agreement with anyone on this site that the mere appearance of agreement sets my heart aflutter (or should that be afluther). So I’ll let it be.

cockswain's avatar

(or should that be afluther)

groan

I appreciate you guys finding the current salary/benefits data. I went off half-cocked on that one, and apologize. In my defense, I’m at work and haven’t the time to search for everything I’d like to. Nonetheless, the information is valuable.

A discussion about the validity/merits of public vs. private unions should get fired up on a new thread.

@IchtheosaurusRex Sorry for side-tracking the thread.

Jaxk's avatar

@cockswain

“groan”

I can’t believe it. Everytime I show my vulnerable side, someone sticks a knife in it. :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

Oh, come on. A few hundred people get up a mob and the newspapers go crazy. The wool is being pulled, nice and thick. Nearly 13 thousand people were killed in the streets in 2007(the latest year reported) and more die every day, the unemployment rate is an all time high, politicians are begging people to suggest a way out of the budget crisis, and you want to worry about a few hundred rioters?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Yarnlady

Say what?? 13,000 people killed in the streets? Where? When? How? By whom? WTF??

YARNLADY's avatar

@CaptainHarley The number of gun fatalities a year in American as of 2007, the lastest year reported.

ETpro's avatar

What Governor Walker is trying to do in Wisconsin is Union busting. Republican governors in 10 states are already at work trying to strip state and local government workers of the right to collectively bargain. With the Citizens United decision in place, if Republicans can bust the government workers’ unions, there will be no source of massive amounts of money for political advertising except the corporations, and groups like the US Chamber of Commerce who represent the corporations. The Chamber of Congress gave 95% of their political contributions to Republicans. This is about setting up perpetual one-party rule in America. As that realization sinks in, get reacy for some massive marches.

Now I will grant you that unions sometimes work for greedy ends, and sometimes hurt the competitiveness of the business that feeds them. There are things that need fixing. But the union movement helped end child labor in America. They won us weekends off, overtime pay, a minimum wage, safe working conditions and much more. Destroying the right to organize and collectively bargain with owners would push us back to the abuses of the Guilded Age. And ;leaving giant coprporations the only players capable of runniong massive campaign psending would end democracy in the USA. Of course, the Big Lie party will counter that there is no evidence that political advertising has any effect on voters. 2010 wasn’t a Presidentaial election year, and yet dprmding for political advertising topped $395 million. Are we to believe that people spend that sort of money and have no indication at ll that advertisomg works.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Where were you when Obama raised almost a $billion for his campaign. Were you screaming about the end of civilization as we know it. Oh, I’m sorry that was a democrat. There’s no question yours is the story the liberals want told. Unfortunately, I don’t think the public will buy it.

The truth is corporate America contributes to both parties, generally with the advantage going to the party in power. And reaching back a hundred years to find something the unions did that was good is quite a stretch. Even if you had to exaggerate the hell out of even that.

The problem is not union busting it is government workers. Once the unions realized they could negotyiate their contracts with the very people they pushed into office they were thrilled. And of course they collect union dues from everyone whether they want to be in the union or not giving them even more money and power.

Public sector unions have moved us closer to a communist state than I ever wanted to get. If you want a good paying job you have to work for the government. If you want to work for the government, you must join the party (I’m sorry the union). And if you cross the unions they send out the brown shirts (sorry those are purple shirts).

No boys and girls, I don’t think the public is buying this false outrage at reasonable legislation. Only the liberals will be buying into it but I will admit they will make a lot of noise in the process.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk You have a very valid point. Lots of that came from the Banksters, and indeed he has avoided criminal prosecution of the greatest fraud ever perpetrated. I am not anti Republican or anti Democrat, I am anti Corporatist.

Let’s set up a separate thread to discuss public sector unions. I’m way too tired to do it justice tonight.

mammal's avatar

@Jaxk listen, et al you other (knee jerks) because it is an important, non question specific point, Trade Unions are undoubtedly and overwhelmingly the victims of violence, to paint them as violent is slanderous. They have historically suffered beatings, intimidation, murder and incarceration, in a bid to wrest absolute control from employers that would work their employees to physical incapacity for a pittance to spend in the company store. You may not agree with the demands of a particular Trade Union, currently, sure, but they keep the balance in check and are a vital component of democracy.

I realise companies don’t like them, that’s why they are always threatening to up sticks and move to dismal parts of the globe where they can abuse their staff ad infinitum.

But people who instinctively hate trade unions and their activity, are either suckered, by the right wing press, undemocratic or crypto fascist, for the most part what they do has absolutely zero or negligible effect on you personally, you are just picking on them, because you have been drilled to despise them, it’s the same principle as racism, sexism and all those other bigoted isms that crop up like poisonous toadstools whenever the opportunity arises. BTW it is Trade Unions who have put an end to discrimination and bullying in the work place, and help legislate to ensure that companies give every prospective employee a fair crack at the whip regardless of Gender, Race, Age or Physical disability. I couldn’t think of an organisation that is more Anti-Violent than a trade union, a strike or protest is a peaceable means of dissent, it is only violent if thugs and strike breakers are drafted in to provoke or attack.

Jaxk's avatar

@mammal

“ensure that companies give every prospective employee a fair crack at the whip”

You may want to lay off the crack for a few days and dry out. Let’s see undemocratic, fascist, racist, sexist, bigot, you guys have got to come up with some new material.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

No problem, although I think this question really does go to the heart of the difference between public and private sector unions.

mammal's avatar

@Jaxk your avatar is quite appropriate for a moral dwarf, because that is surely what you are, and at the very least anti-democratic.

Jaxk's avatar

@mammal

Thanks for acknowledging the avatar. I’ve been associated with grumpy for a lot longer than there have been networking sites. But I was not aware that made me anti-democratic. Of course there aren’t a lot of people that jump to name calling right out of the gate. Generally it takes a little longer. Some dialog gets pursued before approaching that strategy. They try to use some logic first. That of course, assumes they possess such a thing. Wait, we may have stumbled on to the source of your irritation.

mammal's avatar

@Jaxk no, no, i’ve been aware of you, for some time, you are one dimensional, and difficult to connect to, makes me suspicious, like that Plethora character that used to pop up from time to time to weigh in on contentious issues only to disappear back into a hole.

Smearing Trade Unionism with accusations of Violence is a serious allegation, so is calling veterans baby killers and rapists. Do you get my drift? It is serious because it creates an impression that is wholly fallacious. You were bound to be pulled up on it. if not by me by someone else.

wundayatta's avatar

If the state governments want to reduce pensions or salaries, they have every opportunity to do it each time a contract comes up for negotiation. It’s easy to demonize the unions, but the government is not forced to put pen to paper. They can sit back and take a strike or whatever the unions throw at them. It’s a free country. No one is forcing them to agree to union demands.

Management has no one to blame but themselves if they don’t like the contracts they have agreed to. This is all propaganda. Point their finger anywhere else but where the blame really lies. Oh hey. Let’s point it at the unions. No one likes them, anyway.

Communism? More like a dictatorship—if the Republican governors have their way. Get rid of collective bargaining. If you do that, you’ve also gotten rid of free speech. Get a clue people. This is the most serious assault on liberty in the United States since Joe McCarthy.

Jaxk's avatar

@mammal

Your method of attack with the intention of intimidating really is a union tactic. If the person goes away you think you’ve won. If not your rhetoric becomes more threatening and aggitated. You never provide any reasonable information or logical argument just a series of biligerent and intimidating hate speech intended to invoke a violent reaction. You look for reasons to be incensed and then work yourself into a lather to provoke a confrontation.

Your interpersonal skills are quite lacking but your may find a carreer as a union thug (just trying help you work yourself into that lather). The history of union violence is quite clear and quite long. Not just here in the US but around the world. Here is an interesting article that explains not only how prevent it is but why. A little education goes a long ways to help resolving some of your issues. Of course you would need an open mind to take advantage of it.

Jaxk's avatar

Sorry S/B “how prevalent it is”

Jaxk's avatar

@wundayatta

You obviously see no difference between an private sector union and a public sector union. Unfortunately I do. I freely admit I’m not a big union supporter, but I have no problem with private sector unionization if done fairly. Public sector is not the same and the unions wield way to much power in that arena. Hell, they even have the police on thier side.

ETpro's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex I don’t want to take the discussion in a direction you didn’t intend. What say you. Can @Jaxk and I and any others that care to join in take this into a discussion of the mertis and problems with public service unions? As @Jaxk points out here it is an offshoot of the OP. But it’s your question. We can start a separate thread if you prefer.

jca's avatar

One thing about Social is that it seems like “anything goes.” I have had plenty of questions derailed in Social (which is why I don’t prefer it).

ETpro's avatar

@jca It’s just that I’m such a nice, sensitive guy == and humble about it too. :-)

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ETpro

Oh, GROAN! LMAO!

wundayatta's avatar

@Jaxk I do see a difference between private sector and public sector unions, but the WI governor is going after both. He wants to eliminate the closed shop provisions in the state law.

Public sector unions are under different laws, and I forget their version of the NLRB. I’m assuming things are different in each state in terms of things the state can control, but I don’t know if there are some underlying rights granted to all public sector workers in all states.

I believe that legislation is the wrong way to go after this. I believe that employers and employees should be allowed to negotiate with each other over anything they are willing to negotiate over. If the state has granted closed shops, then it’s fine if they can take it away. But to try to force themselves into the middle of the bargaining process is stupid.

It’s the same with the public employee unions. You can say you won’t talk about working conditions, but if the employees won’t settle unless you do, what are you going to do? Throw them all in jail? Fire them all?

Jaxk's avatar

@wundayatta

“You can say you won’t talk about working conditions, but if the employees won’t settle unless you do, what are you going to do? Throw them all in jail? Fire them all?”

I don’t see much difference in that. The state is merely saying they won’t negotiate those issues. They can say the same today and the result would be the same with a couple of differences. The negotiator could relent and bargain on those issues, now he can’t. The employees could still strike with impunity, now they can be fired. Most of this not what the unions can ask for but rather what the state can provide.

The closed shop rule was one I always had a problem with. I understand the union position but it seems wrong to force me join, just to get a job. Basic ideological difference I guess.

wundayatta's avatar

I believe in collection action, but I don’t believe in stupidity. I’ve worked for a union, and I’ve consulted for unions, and I wasn’t terribly happy with the way unions are run, any more than I am happy with the way companies are run.

I live in a state where you don’t have to join the union if you are in the bargaining unit. When I started my current job, I was not in the bargaining unit. Then, one day, they called me into the office and told me I was now in the bargaining unit. What???? Apparently the union and the employer had been doing some horse trading, and some folks went out and others went in.

As a result of this change, my compensation was cut by about $2000. I had better benefits not being in the union. So when the union rep called, I wasn’t very keen on the idea of paying dues in order to get a worse deal. So I didn’t join. But they still have to represent me if I ever need it. Although if my department is cut, I don’t think there’s anything even the union can do.

There are many places where ideals hit reality, and the rosy truth you hoped for turns out to be leftover mud patties. I hate strife, and I think it happens mostly because people are stupid—managers and union reps. Unions can be good things. But they aren’t for me.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: I am a government worker, and to respond to your statement about having to join the union in order to get a job, that’s now how it works. You get the job and being in union is not a prerequisite of getting hired. You cannot be forced to join the union. However, union dues are taken out of your check regardless. Some people still do not join (for whatever reason – they get the same benefits as everyone else except if they need a rep they cannot utilize one) but they are paying whether or not they fill out that union application. Nobody forces you to join and you have the right not to join.

Ron_C's avatar

@Jaxk and @ETpro there are two institutions, in the U.S. that are not only against unions, they are anti-democratic; large corporations and religions find democracy repulsive and work to extinguish them.

Business has a CEO and board of directors that are roughly equivalent to a dictatorship and cabinet made up of shareholders or landowners. Churches have their hierarchy that is unelected by the membership. Failure to obey the hierarchy is a sentence to Hell. All corporations can do (at least right now) is fire you and ruin you life.

The reason that corporations, conservative government, and conservative religion is against democracy is because their leadership demand complete freedom for themselves and humility from their employees. The bigger the organization, the less democracy and usually the a lower corporate I.Q.

With their attacks on education and unions, I suspect they have a two prong strategy to insure continued power. First eliminate the possibility for the “serfs” to organize, second, keep them ignorant to keep them compliant.

We have had 50 years of propaganda telling us that capitalism is the only fair economic system and that unions are made up of lazy thugs. The propaganda has been so effective that even some union members believe it. Proper education (dumbed down education) insures that only the elite can afford higher education and soon only the elite will be able to afford basic education. Of course a controlled minority of the proletariat are allowed to rise to elite status, this will perpetuate the myth of the American dream By the way Clarence Thomas is an example of a black person corrupted by this myth so much that he is anti-black and pro-elitist.

Jaxk's avatar

@Ron_C

Good rant but very little actual information. Unfortunately the unions (in a large part) have become drunk with power. The government has systematically transferred more and more power to them and they have taken advantage. The requirement for unions and of benefits of having one are quite different that they were in the beginning.

During the industrial revolution labor really was labor. A factory worker could be replaced easily by just grabbing another person off the street and putting them on the assembly line. Training was cheap and quick, costs were low. If an employer didn’t like someone for whatever reason, they could be fired and replaced same day. Unions were a way to fix that and insure that you had some job security as well as a fair wage.

The world however has changed. Employees are not easily replaced and costs associated with it are enormous. Hell, even the janitor is not easily replaced. You need to do more than just sweep and they have access to places that require some reasonable security measures. Jobs are incredibly specialized and replacement is a problem. It is much cheaper to keep an employee happy than it is too replace them (assuming their demands are reasonable). Corporations spend a lot of time and money insuring that wages are competitive and working conditions are good. Health care, 401Ks, hell all sorts of benefits that they don’t have to provide but they do to insure they can lure top quality candidates. Labor is no longer just labor.

To remain relevant unions have had to up the anti. Even greater benefits, greater security, higher wages, all to lure workers into the fold. Frankly in many cases, they’ve simply gone too far. “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on”. It’s too late to undo what the unions did in Wisconsin. They must now suffer the consequences of overindulgence.

janbb's avatar

It has begun to seem to me that we are all (including myself) so entrenched in our differing beliefs about what is wrong with America at this point that discussion is futile.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The protests have spread to Indiana now. National MSM ignoring it, but it’s all over Twitter. Interesting.

ETpro's avatar

I came here to share this. Egyptians are taking up donations and sending money to buy pizza for the protesters in Wisconsin.

@janbb I’m afraid you are right. @Ron_C certainly did issue a rant, but there is nothing I can identify in it that is a lie. As usual, @Jaxk says there is “very little actual informatio” in the rant, then nit picks at details without refuting any of the salient points. Enron wasn’t drunk with power. Exxon Mobil, Wall Street, Halliburton—they aren’t drunk with power. The Koch Brothers aren’t really funding right-wing grouips intent on reshaping the US government into a complete corporatoicracy. The Unions are drunk with power.

Here’s how drunk they have gotten. In the 2008 elections, corporate donors favored Republicans but not by a great deal. Three unions and the AARP were among donors the favored Democratic causes. After Citizens United in 2008, only the SIEU broke into the top 10 givers, and they were #7. Corporate donors were giving almost exclusinvely to Republicans. What money Democrats could rais came mostly from individuals.

I do agree with @Jaxk in his thoughts of what unions should do to improve their lot and their viability in today’s economy.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Interesting response. I can’t find where I picked at any of @Ron_C ’ points nor were there any salient details to refute or even discuss. He obviously hates corporations (as you do) and says they are run like a dictatorship. Well OK, that’s an opinion and I would agree they are certainly not run as a democracy. He says they are anti-democratic but I have no idea how he gets that opinion nor do I see it as anything other than anti-corporation ranting. I suppose I could have said ‘Nah uh’.

You want to say there were no lies but there was nothing other anti corporation name calling. With out details there can be no lies. He calls Clarence Thomas anti-black and elitist but that’s simply his opinion, What do you expect that I should say no, that’s not really his opinion.

Overall the thread is about the protests, unions, and government. If you want to say “I hate corporations” go ahead but don’t expect me to try and refute that. If you hate them, you hate them. If you want to put some detail in there we can talk.

Ron_C's avatar

@Jaxk I don’t hate corporations, I hate large international corporations. I work for a corporation, we have about 200 people. There comes a point when a corporation becomes too big for its britches. It believes that it has the right to completely control people and to ask them to do all sorts of outrageous things because they forced others to do them. I suspect when the corporation gets to the size where it controls a major portion of one or more markets, it should be broken up. In our country’s early years, a corporation that was in existence for more than 40 years it was forced to break up. Our forefathers knew what it was like to deal with an old corporation that was around long enough to involve all political leaders and started to vote itself special privileges and even levy taxes.

Unions were,once drunk with power, but that went along well with U.S. Steel, General Motors, and Ford. Don’t forget Ford once used slaves in their German production lines. The only reason we don’t have child labor, have safety rules, and have decent salaries is that Unions came before us. Without them we would have 8 year old grade school drop outs squeezing between machines to grease them. We also have the machines because companies were forced to buy them when they actually had to pay for labor.

My grandfather lived in a company house and bought things on credit at the company store. I think that there are even a few share croppers left in the south. That is indentured servitude. Now college graduates graduate with $100k debt. That is also indentured servitude.They must find a job that enables them to pay that debt, currently those sort of jobs are in finance. The finance industry is no longer the source for capital to build or improve factories. The youngest and brightest are now recruited, not as engineers but inventors of exotic financial instruments. The less these instruments are understood, the better their return. It is like drug dealers modifying drugs so that are not on the list of proscribed formularies. The longer it takes regulators to figure them out the more money they make for basically selling paper and air. The conservatives insure that the regulators are underfunded, under paid and under supported. The only losers in this game is the middle class. Now they are again attacking Social Security even though most of the stocks that money would have supported lost more than half their value.

Industry always, always looks for cheaper, then faster and better. Cheaper is almost always the first consideration. They will always pay as little as possible

By the way I watched the Thomas hearings, even then he was a creepy guy. That was when I decided that he hated the “lower class blacks”. I am sure that he would be perfectly tolerant with blacks in his upper social class.

Damn right I had large financial and multinational corporations. Anybody in their right mind should.

Isn’t it funny that the middle east push for democracy came at the same time that the Mid-west is pushing to reduce it?

Jaxk's avatar

@Ron_C

You weave a plausible story and I don’t disagree with everything you’ve said. I believe it is a bit lopsided in that you want to make the unions the champions and the corporations the villains. But to be fair corporations have brought a substantial benefit to the country as well. They built he intercontinental railroads, the automobile, and the very computer your using for this debate.

I would also take exception to your point about cheaper. I’ve been involved with salary structures for some fairly large corporations (MCI, McDonnell Douglas, BT) and they always have tried to place thier salaries above the industry average. Granted not the very top but above average. And the intention was always to gain better quality.

As far as organizations becoming too large, I don’t disagree but I would add, that is true of unions and government as well. Government spending (Federal, state and local) is approaching 50% of our entire GDP. It was 30% just 10 years ago. Here is a graph that shows what has been happening with government salaries and benefits over that time. Somehow this massive gobbling up of our GDP has got to stop. And given the dramatic increase in salaries and benefits, I’m hard pressed to understand how you think they are under paid and under funded.

I’m reluctant to even comment on the forced labor in Nazi Germany. Given the alternative (gas chambers) I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

As for the off-shoring of jobs, I know we’ll disagree on this one. We have systematically driven our manufacturing overseas. What we have left is mostly not really manufacturing but rather final assembly. Hell, we outsourced our steel industry to Japan. Not because we can’t do it here but rather because the EPA put us out of business. Between the EPA and the unions, we simply can’t compete. If you look back at where unions have taken a massive share of the industry, it has pretty much crippled that industry here in the states. Now they have the public employees. We can’t outsource that but it has still crippled us.

You complain about the cost of education where costs are driven by salaries and bureaucracy. And you want to increase both of them. I’m not sure how you blame corporations for the education issue so I’ll leave that as an open item.

mattbrowne's avatar

The creditors financing the Iraq war want their money back. Since raising taxes seems politically incorrect, cutting spending is the only alternative. Public employees don’t have a powerful lobby like rich people do, who have successfully prevented tax raises. So all these employees can do now is organizing protests.

Jaxk's avatar

@mattbrowne

Public employees don’t have a powerful lobby? The most frequent visitor to the Whitehouse was the president of SEIU. Obama signed an executive order to restrict or at least give preference to unions on the stimulus construction projects. Kind of a neat trick, assign the money for unions then get it back in campaign donations.

No I think the rumors of the death of unions is grossly over exaggerated.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne I wouldn’t mind rescinding tax breaks all the way back to Reagan. We could then afford to build our infrastructure, keep the predators away from social security and get rid of the HMO’s and get a rational single payer system.

Trickle down never worked and has proved that money must be lighter than air because it seems to rise to the top of the economic pyramid and loose some of its value on the way. Amazing stuff, money.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Trickle down was tried in Medieval Europe. It resulted in feudalism. No hunting or fishing on the Lord’s lands. The Lord owned all the lands and streams and lakes. Taxes were everything a farmer or craftsman could produce save a bare subsistence left to keep him alive till the next growing season. Often, the Lord got a bit greedy and overtaxed his serfs till they did starve during the harsh winters. Trickle down my ass. What a stupid pile of malarkey for historically ignorant Americans to buy.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Jaxk – Well, I was under the impression that the lobby of rich and super-rich people is far more powerful. Lobbyists can be bought, right?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Undertaxing people today, means overtaxing our grandchildren by the growing debt. I think they’ll find this to be very unfair.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne and @ETpro the whole tax thing is very discouraging. Wisconsin used tax breaks as a reason to abolish state employee collective bargaining rights.

janbb's avatar

And New Jersey is using property tax rebates to blackmail cowardly Dems to support cutting public employee benefits.

Jaxk's avatar

@mattbrowne

Actually the unions have a much more poerful lobby than anyone else and as we’ve seen have more access to policians and the whitehouse than any other lobby.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk That’s not true by dollars spent, by numbers of lobbyists working for a given cause or any other measure. In the last election, only 3 of the top 10 political donors were unions.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Well, I was wrong. The national media have started to pay attention, and apparently, so have some other Republican statehouses.

SpatzieLover's avatar

This is going to change everything in the world of USA politics. What happened here my home state of Wisconsin will be attempted in every state of the union. That is every state with a Republican Governor.

Walker will be gone. had he not deep pockets funding him he wouldn’t have been there in the first place

ETpro's avatar

@SpatzieLover Look at how far Michigan’s Republicans are willing to go.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ETpro Holy Mother did I just enter the Twilight Zone?

Considering I’m a 5th generation German American from a family that helped put my Village on the map, settled it, worked the land, set up the Church, the school, the businesses this is deeply unsettling to me.

ETpro's avatar

@SpatzieLover Well, get involved. If we stand by and watch, these guys are going to put all of America under Corporate control.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ETpro Up until this point I thought I was involved. Heck, I followed Granholm for Governor as much as I followed Doyle for Governor.

Snyder troubled me from the start. I’m just not into wealthy business men conducting my local government. Especially when they are so out of touch with their constituency.

It’s the same here with Walker. He had so much Rep money thrown at him during Doyle’s term, it was obvious by the time he got in there would be no looking to or listening to the constituents.

There is going to be a need for a movement like one we haven’t witnessed in the past.

SpatzieLover's avatar

3/10 Wis:
Could they actually lock out the Dems from the Assembly vote? So far they’re aren’t being let in, and the Reps are in…This is unbelievable and incomprehensible to me.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Exactly what corporate control are you talking about. This is about Public sector unions. There is no corporation involved. Only the citizens of the state. It is a conflict between the citizens and the unions.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Jaxk C’mon KOCH is in both of the aforementioned Governors pockets.

Jaxk's avatar

@SpatzieLover

I’m not sure how that pertains whether it is true or not. The issues are about public sector unions. The difference between public sector and private sector are stark. That’s why the national labor laws don’t pertain to public sector. The unions however have used the public sentiment for unions to drive thier public sector agenda and driven it way past the point that we can afford. Taxpayers that are barely scrapping by, can’t afford these enormous salaries and benefits given to the public employees. The system simply has to change to bring reality into the process. The unions seem to be willing to give slightly on the salary and benefits to retain their stranglehold on the negotiating process but that only provides a slight pause rather than addressing the problem. As soon as the storm is over they will go right back to raping the public. Public sector unions are not negotiating against the profit motive that they were created to counter. It’s a different ball game.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – Corporate influence in government is undeniable though – and some of the focus has been on the Koch connection and whether things like the no-bid provision in the budget bill are about actually looking out for the people or looking out for corporate backers.

It’s a reasonably question to ask, and it’s being asked. However, I think that in the end it’s a subsidiary issue, as we don’t have to know who anyone’s backers are to look objectively at the moves the actors are making and what impact they’ll have.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

As is union involvement in government. Both sides have a pretty clear agenda. The issue remains, can we afford these salaries and benefits and should they be allowed to continue to escalate?

janbb's avatar

The point about collective bargaining is that it is bargaining. Neither side gets everything it wants.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@janbb Precisely. As I have learned through my involvement in local government:

Legislation is considered fair when both sides lose equally.

Jaxk's avatar

@janbb

So exactly what have the public unions given up? As far as I can tell, they have better wages, and the benefits are ridiculous. They can force everyone to join thier union (or at least pay union dues) and retire in thier 50s at full salary. What didn’t they get. Were they expecting us to buy them a new car every year? Is that what they gave up?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Jaxk Their benefits are ridiculous? That’s your opinion. I find their benefits to be similar to those in the private sector. Doesn’t matter anyway, they pay for their benefits.

iamthemob's avatar

@janbb – I think that at this point, with the union being an incredibly powerful lobby, and the benefits what they are, we’ve swung maybe a bit too far in the direction of the union and the public employee.

I’m still shocked at how that bill went through, and I have grave concerns about what it means practically for the future security of the workers….but we should recognize that the financial concessions that they were asking for the unions agreed to.

Now, I think that what the teachers make is actually a good salary for what they do…not to high. I would love it higher. But, I also want the accountability back in the game.

janbb's avatar

I try not to get into political battles any more on Fluther; the game ain’t worth the candle. I just feel that this is union-busting and one only has to look at 19th and 20th century labor history to see the importance of unions. Negotiate down benefits and salaries if you must, but don’t strip one side of the only tool they collectively have.

iamthemob's avatar

@janbb – Personally, I don’t even look at it as political anymore, so much as mainstream media on both sides whipping everyone up into a frenzy of stupid and angry.

Jaxk's avatar

@SpatzieLover

Hopefully you don’t really believe that. They pay for thier benefits because the union negotiated them into the contract? Get real.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

20,000 people protested in Indianapolis yesterday, but the only coverage outside the local media was on Twitter. I’ve heard there will be 100,000 again in Madison over the weekend. If you ignore the fake news footage on Fox (palm trees!), there’s been no violence. Incredible. Nothing like the 1960s.

The question as to whether it changes politics remains to be seen. The MSM are falling all over themselves to avoid any in-depth coverage of these events, since it doesn’t play with their current narrative. I guess we’ll know in 2012.

iamthemob's avatar

Oh my GOD we are going to be in for two years of this escalating protest and elevating rhetoric, aren’t we?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@iamthemob , it depends. If the jobs situation doesn’t get any better, and I don’t think it will, then I believe we’ll be seeing a fair amount of this. The unions and their supporters have little to lose and everything to gain at this point.

iamthemob's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex – the thing is, when this dies out, the MSM and pundits are going to have to come up with something for the election.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@iamthemob , I’ll speculate here, but I think the prevailing lede in 2012 may be oil shocks. The whole Middle East is a powderkeg right now.

iamthemob's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex – that or, you know…Zombie Mayans.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk You know very well that benefits such as employer funded healthcare or retirement plans are part of a wage and benefit package that employers offer to get good help. It makes no difference whether you work in the public or private sector, this has always been true. One of the litany of Republican lies here is that the public sector workers of Wisconsin are, or rather were grossly overpaid. The truth is that controlling for education and experience, public sector employees in Wisconsin earned less than their private sector counterparts. And they just got a huge wage cut so the rich could get more money. I guess Republicans only hat a transfer of wealth when it isn’t going to millionaires.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Yes I agree entirely that the benefits package is part of the total compensation package and therefor saying they pay for their benefits is a bit of misdirection. Which was my point. The compensation for public employees is a difficult comparison. There are so many intangibles and the data is so easy to skew. Much like the report you cite, they want to extract by education level in general but that really doesn’t tell us much. I recall during the GM bailout, stories about people with masters and doctorates working the production lines. Not because the job required it but rather because the job security, benefits and pay created a compensation package that was very lucrative.

The other problem with using the educational level is that not all degrees are created equal. If you have a degree in the humanities, history, or the arts, it’s not going to buy you much in the way of salary on the open market. Sure there are some jobs that directly relate but generally not very lucrative degrees. Government work becomes a good place to get comparable pay with a less than comparable degree. Typically when you start adding in a lot of qualifiers, your skewing the data. Trying to compare based on education level is doing just that. Here is an article that talks to these issues without coming down on one side or the other. And another that talks about the benefits difference.

Overall, the public sector enjoys some fairly lucrative but difficult to quantify benefits. Things like being able to retire in your 50s with reasonable pay and health care seem fairly attractive. A guaranteed return on your retirement (the latest figure I’ve seen is about7.8% return guarantee) is quite good. Try to get someone to give you that on your 401K. I know of no where else that you could get a return at even half that rate guaranteed. There has not been a shortage of applicants for government jobs that I can recall. And that includes the time before this recent run up in public sector compensation. In addition the public employees tend to stay in there jobs for life (or at least a lot longer. Turnover in the public sector is about a third of what it is in the private sector. It is difficult to say they are under-compensated when they are deluged with applicants and they stay in their job for life. Some thing attracts them and some thing retains them. And continuing to raise their compensation is truly not needed.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Quite right. The old maxim tha statistics never lie, ut a lot of liars are statisticians applies in spades in this debate. Publi school teachers get degrees in disciplines that often don’t offer much opportunity outside of teaching. They are not making obscenely high wages. What they do is vital to the survival of America as we know it. Demonizing them, labeling them all thugs, has no place in pou political rhetoris for any that care about the future of this country.

iamthemob's avatar

Can we argue that pay doesn’t attract talent?

If the argument is that teachers aren’t qualified, are we going to attract the qualified with lower pay? And even if we do, are we going to keep them? Talent translates into any industry.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

I don’t think there’s an issue with attracting qualified candidates. Nor in retaining them. The problem seems to be that once in, you can’t get rid of the bad ones. Once they have their probationary period completed the turnover is virtually non existent.

@ETpro

Arguing the extremes never solves the problem. Teachers do not obscenely high salaries but they are certainly not underpaid either. If you want to get rich, typically you don’t pick teaching as your profession. But if you want a nice stable job, insulated from the the economic highs and lows. Teaching is a good fit. If you want an annual sabbatical, where you can vacation or stay home for a few months a year, teaching is a good fit. If you want every conceivable holiday with pay, teaching is a good fit. If you want to retire in your 50s with full or close to full pay, teaching is a good fit. When you add in all these benefits, pubic service work begins to look pretty lucrative.

Finally teachers are not some mystical pathway to the future. They’re just people like you and me. Some good, some bad. Unions unfortunately, have taken away our ability to sort out which is which. And I find it very curious that we have no problem looking at Social Security and talk about cutting benefits, raising the age of retirement to 67. We figure your benefits based on 20 years of income, but public sector retirement can’t be touched. There is no way to figure Social Security has not been paid for by the employee. Yet we look at it as an entitlement that can be taken away when times are tough. Why this disparity?

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – The issue now is that I agree. In fact, the idea of getting a government job that one can’t get fired from is one of those things that attracts the least productive of us.

But, that’s an entirely different issue. I think that should be done away with…but if we do that, plus demonize the employees, plus reduce their pay packages, plus reduce the ability for them to get raises regardless of merit without a referendum, plus limit their ability to use the tools they have historically to bargain for more…well, I actually can’t imagine a scenario that seems more likely to create a talent exodus.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk I am in complete agreement with you that teachers in secondary education do not need tenure, and should not have it. Tenure is meant to protect senior university professors when their research takes them into areas that ruffle the feathers of the powers that be. We should work to make teacher’s unions more like the trade guilds of the past, helping their members learn to excell and policing their membership to ensure that no members are an embarrassment to the profession. I am not arguing for the status quo. I am saying that we should not destroy a valuable and venerable institution just because it has some problems. Instead, we should fix what’s wrong with it.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Nearly 100,000 people in Madison on Saturday. Still no violence. Incredible. Looks like it’s not going away, either.

Judi's avatar

Thought this was relevant here. The Story of Citizens United VS the FEC

ETpro's avatar

@Judi Thanks for an absolutely excellent video. Everyone should take the few minutes required to watch it.

cockswain's avatar

I second that, great video.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Interesting events in Michigan, now. What’s most interesting is that these are battleground states. Kasich’s popularity in Ohio has taken a nosedive, and that can’t be helping the Republicans’ electoral prospects there. If this carries forward into next year, then I should be able to say, yes, it’s not a flash in the pan, but right now it’s still too early to tell.

ETpro's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex If they can get enough electioneering donew, it won’t matter. Remember what Stalin said, “It’s not the people who vote that count; it’s the people who count the votes.” Republicans have moves afoot in 32 states now to marginalize the ability to vote among groups that traditionally vote for Democrats.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Do you mean groups like dead people and illegal immigrants?

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

Really?

No – I think we’re referring to University students as well.

Jaxk's avatar

College students vote in the state where they maintain legal residence. There needs to be some insurance they don’t vote in both the state they live in and the state they go to college in. Is it your contention that college students don’t know how to vote?

iamthemob's avatar

No. And you know that.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Then I don’t understand the problem. It seems that any rules to insure ‘one person one vote’ is decryed as disenfranchising someone. I would think that college students would be able to figure out the rules without much trouble. Hell, I suspect that some of them could even figure out the ‘Butterfly Ballot’. Although I’d need odds to bet on that.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – I don’t think that the efforts are clearly underhanded, or wrong – but the issue is about the attempts to limit where the students can register. Considering that most college districts end up being liberal strongholds, the move appears suspicious.

No judgment here. But that’s the question.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

On topic: protesters from WI followed their senators to D.C. to help them feel at home at their $1000 a plate fundraiser. You have to admit that’s funny.

There is also an interesting piece in the NYT today. The procedure the Wisconsin GOP used to pass their union-busting law may have violated the state’s open meetings law. If the court rules that it did, it will void the statute. The legislature can just pass it again, giving adequate notice of the proceedings, but there is no guarantee the vote will go the same way. The Democrats are well on their way to collecting the signatures needed to force a recall election of at least 5 GOP senators, Two of them are definitely vulnerable, and 3 others are a tossup.

cockswain's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex ‘s last statement got me thinking about politicians “changing their mind” to either follow the will of the people, or maybe just improve chances of re-election. Then I remembered I actually asked a question about that here last year.

Sorry to go off topic again, but when you mentioned the GOP senators having a possible change of heart, it got me thinking about the ideal role of a politician again.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk asked me Do you mean groups like dead people and illegal immigrants? Projecting yet again, are you? Republicans love to trot out that zombie no matter how many times it has been laid to rest, but the truth is the GOP has been caught in electioneering far more often than Democrats. I think you just believe the opposition must be doing it because if you were them, that is what you would do. If you know of anyone in either party casting votes in the name of the dead or somehow inserting illlegal aliens onto voter registration lists, notify the attorney general in that district and prosecute them. Those are serious crimes. And how many successful prosecutions have there been?
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html
http://www.demos.org/pubs/Analysis.pdf

In truth, what most of the smokescreen about voter fraud is is a transparent attempt to suppress all efforts to extend the franchise of citizenship to individuals who deserve it, but might not “vote right.” In that respect, it is not a twit different than the Republican drive in 32 states now to make it more difficult for college students to vote.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

And here we are! http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/118242109.html

“Madison—Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order Friday, barring the publication of a controversial new law that would sharply curtail collective bargaining for public employees.”

This means the law cannot be enforced until a ruling is issued. As mentioned above, the legislature can vote to re-enact the law, but will they?

iamthemob's avatar

And just think…if we didn’t have idiot partisan politics we might actually have seen a budget pass in Wisconsin. Instead, it’s all mired in litigation.

Ron_C's avatar

@iamthemob “if we didn’t have idiot partisan politics we might actually have seen a budget pass in Wisconsin.” Please remember, there was no budget crisis until the governor passed tax cuts for his corporate friends and worked to re-balance it on the back of working people. That is now common practice for state as well as federal government policy. Bail out the banks, protect financial CEO salaries and bonus’s, privatize social security, and eliminate universal health care. Sounds like a good plan if you make over $250k. The little people are just a hindrance to business and pleasure, why shouldn’t they pay for “burdening society”?

iamthemob's avatar

I’m talking about partisanship on both sides. So that act would be included in the idiocy. ;-)

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