Police officers and firefighters may work for the government, but they are not “gum’mint” employees. In other words, they inhabit a separate space in the unconscious mind, just as military personnel do. So when conservatives start lambasting “gum’mint” employees, they probably don’t include public safety personnel and soldiers in the mix.
Neither, apparently, does Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He wants to bust employee unions by destroying collective bargaining. He doesn’t want to accept any wage or benefit concessions from teachers or janitors or secretaries. He won’t negotiate, even though a study has shown that Wisconsin’s public employees make less than their private sector counterparts.
But Walker has asked nothing of police and fire fighters. Is he trying to win their votes while punishing the unions who voted for his opponent? From the news Web site Channel3000:
Walker’s bill would strip state and local government employees, including teachers, custodians and game wardens, of their ability to collectively bargain everything except their wages.
But the measure carves out a special exemption for local police officers, firefighters and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Critics said the move amounts to political payback for unions that support Walker and could create a schism between government workers.
During his campaign for governor, Walker was endorsed by the Wisconsin State Troopers, as well as the Milwaukee Police and Firefighters associations and the West Allis Professional Police.
In all, five public employee unions endorsed Walker, and four of the five are completely unharmed by Walker’s budget repair bill, WISC-TV reported. Walker has denied that the unions are getting political payback.
Even some opponents of public unions have noticed Walker’s glaring omission of police and firefighters. If busting unions is so important to fiscal stability, why exclude them, as libertarian blogger Steven Taylor asks:
However, I would go beyond that and not ask why Walker is doing what Walker is doing, but rather ask why we have not seen (or, at least, I have not seen) his ideological allies calling for him to include police, firefighters and state troopers in the bill? If there is a fundamental philosophical issue here concerning public sector unions, what is the possible rationale for any exceptions?
What, indeed? Politics, as usual?