If Wisconsin unions are bad, what about police?

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.
wisconsin_public_sector

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?

502 comments Add your comment

Good Grief

February 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

“Is he trying to win their votes while punishing the unions who voted for his opponent?”

You mean like Obama saying we have to reward our friends and punish our enemies?

And what’s with the use of “gum’mint?” We all know what you mean, but did you have to spell it like that? Is that part of the plan to make those you disagree with appear less educated by spelling the word so nonsensically?

Back Seater

February 22nd, 2011
8:22 am

Dear CT,
Would this have anything to do with the Demo’s love for unions and their votes?

Peadawg

February 22nd, 2011
8:22 am

“If Wisconsin unions are bad”

Honey, it ain’t just Wisconsin unions that are bad…it’s all unions. They had their time and place but that’s long gone.

AngryRedMarsWoman

February 22nd, 2011
8:23 am

What is the breakdown of public sector and private sector workers at each level of educational attainment?

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

OK, folks have figured out that Walker ginned this up, but it goes much deeper….

Why does Governor Walkers budget bill allow for the “no bid” sale of Wisconsin powers plants????

“16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

The stench off of this is sickening.

Peadawg

February 22nd, 2011
8:28 am

“The stench off of this is sickening.” – Deodorant and a shower will fix that for you Grandma.

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
8:30 am

Peadawg

Almost Cute.

Now, why is that in the budget bill and do you approve?

Just Axin'

February 22nd, 2011
8:31 am

If you use “gum’mint”, should I use “axed”?

Does that advance the discussion?

Good Grief

February 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

Granny-

Is your objection to that budget bill provision the sale or the contracting out of services? If it is the sale, then I really can’t tell you why it’s there. If it’s the contracting of services, then it’s pretty easy to understand. Contractors can work for less money and you don’t have to offer state benefits to them, therefore, it is cheaper on the state and thereby cheaper on the taxpayer.

Georgian

February 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

More rubble from the liberal Tucker….

Smarterthanyou

February 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

Public sector employees may make more in Wisconsin, but they don’t have to pay a large percent of their income to pay for health benefits like private sector employees do. Asking the unions to pay their “fair share” is a large part of what the governor there is trying to do.

The unions in this case are a very unsympathetic victim and I don’t see a huge stampede of public opinion supporting them.

Keep up the good fight!

February 22nd, 2011
8:37 am

repeat the mantra…does not need to make sense….

Unions bad. Unions bad….. but then tell say…okay in this bill only those unions that do no support us politically are bad.

Rinse. Repeat.

0311/0317 -1811/1801

February 22nd, 2011
8:37 am

Cynthia:

“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?”

Nope.

I know it may be difficult for you to understand this but there are basically two kinds of public employees.

1) Those who go to work everyday and perform their tasks.

2) Those who go to work everyday and perform their tasks at the risk of their life.

It’s just that simple.

He is trying to reward the second group for their efforts.

Good Grief

February 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

Keep Up-

Again: Reward our friends and punish our enemies. Not exactly a convservative politician that uttered that gem.

Aquagirl

February 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

“The unions in this case are a very unsympathetic victim and I don’t see a huge stampede of public opinion supporting them.”

How shocking. Right wingers have a notorious lack of sympathy for anyone but themselves.

Keep up the good fight!

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

Scout Zero…so prison guards do not risk their lives daily?

sean smith

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

Its the NO-BID part of it thats stinks. Its just another way to funnel public money to friends.

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

Good Grief

“without solicitation of bids”

is that acceptable to you?

“Contractors can work for less money and you don’t have to offer state benefits to them”

I believe that was disproved in Iraq. AND in Wisconsin as well. (as in “lower TOTAL compensation”)

liberal hypocrisy

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

I do not really care about private sector employee unions and if they go on strike it cause a production line to go off line but the danger caused by public sector unions in immense. You could go out in the weeds and whine about the exemptions for police and fire unions but the services these employees are far more crucial to society than teacher unions. Ever heard of the “thin blue line”.

Even FDR was against public sector unions plus with ballooning gov’t deficits with decreasing gov’t revenues, these teachers cannot be whining about contributing more to their pensions and benefits. Who gets a pension in the private sector anymore? Pensions are unheard in the private sector.

Also, CT your chart is from a biased liberal, progressive think tank. Nice try! The Economic Policy Institute is well known to support liberal causes.

Also, why are these demonstrators getting such positive spin compared to the Tea Party. Those WI demonstrators are some of the whitest demonstrators I have seen plus I saw some nasty signs. The hypocrisy of the media is shameless!

The New Thomas Paine

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

“If Wisconsin Unions are bad, then what about Police”? This title, dear Cynthia, is so awkward and indecipherable that I am ashamed that I once thought you were pretty.

And cut that hair! (Y won’t CT cut her hair? It’s driving me crazy. She hides her face. She looks out of place on televised round tables. It’s like they’re sharing an intellectual discussion with a Flavo-flav groupie.)

Worse, the tv hosts always coddle her and her sometimes-mealy-mouthed answers. I hate that. It’s so Bookman-like. Y cant Cynthia be more like Michelle O? and why can’t Bookman get lost?

BOOKMAN!!!

The issue at hand is so old that the place to understand what can and will go wrong with unionized political machines is where they put the chick in the car and now the car wont go…….

….Chicargo. (michelle O is from chicago, no?)

‘muff said.

dk

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

Not knowing Wis budget, but if his analysis shows it’s the Teachers Union deal that is causing the states budget woes, why should he use a one size fits all approach? Targert the problem area and get it fixed. If other unions are causing budget pain, the deal with it. And for those teachers who want collective bargaining rights, head to another state, no one is stopping you!

And is it time to form a tax payer union? I would love to negotiate with the gov on what taxes we should pay….

Jimmy62

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

He was only supported by a small minority of the large number of police and fire unions around the state. Like 95% of them did not support him. I don;t know his reasons for excluding certain groups, but maybe it’s because it seemed more politically possible to work on just one group at a time. Tackle fire and police next. And then move on to other places where the state can spend less. One step at a time, and we can fix this country.

tucker4GED

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

Oh, so this is about busting unions? Wow, could you be more delusional? How about the real issue, you fool? Wisconsin is broke and the state already has high tax rates and unemployment issues. So, what is your suggestion to fix the problem? Your assertion about busting unions is a shortcut to thinking, which is typical of your rants.

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

Smarterthanyou

February 22nd, 2011
8:36 am
Public sector employees may make more in Wisconsin, but they don’t have to pay a large percent of their income to pay for health benefits like private sector employees do.

lower TOTAL compensation

Marie

February 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

For the most part policemen and firefighters are admired by members of society for the work they do in protecting and risking their lives for the public good. However, the same simply cannot be said for other government workers as it has become laden with too little oversight, spending, bureaucracy, corruption, etc., and it needs to be reigned in. We neeed policemen and firefighters and will continue to interact with them or see them performing their duties throughout our lives. However, for there are folks like me who have very little to know personal interaction with the services of other government workers. And many of them only have a job to service other government workers.

Sorry as a private employee I do not have collective bargaining power or any special benefits other than what my employer has offered me and/or we agreed upon when I began working for the company. The company has the right to withdraw any of the benefits currently offered at anytime they feel it is in their BEST interest. And if I don’t like it I can pack my bags and find employment elsewhere. Sorry but these government workers get no sympathy from me as my tax dollars pay their salaries (whether they make less or more than me). They are no more important than other members of society and DO NOT have some inherent right to a job or any benefits. And as local, state, and federal governments begin to realize that this pig is too bloated and is unsustainable these clowns are going have to SUCK IT UP and get back to work.

williebkind

February 22nd, 2011
8:42 am

I watched CNN and Fox News last night. Somebody is lying about the numbers CT. You know, wages and such. One says the public workers make more and the other says the private sector makes more. Now who are we to trust in reporting the “faxs”. (thought I would spell a word like you did) The union is about 10% of Wis. workers. So that 10% should get special deals because they always spend money on liberal candidates? What is if you are a union worker and do not want your money spent on a particular candidate? Yep unions are trying to pick our representatives for all of us.

Keep up the good fight!

February 22nd, 2011
8:42 am

Grief….taking a statement out of context and using it as justification for this does not make this action correct. Do try to argue with some sensibility and not just some platitude of “defense” that is nonsensical to the real world application. These are real people with real jobs.

Keep up the good fight!

February 22nd, 2011
8:46 am

Wisconsin is broke….another mantra of the right. Keep cutting taxes and then claim the state is broken and the unfunded pension liabilities that you failed to pay when due, now you claim you wont pay. Sorry…..Wisconsin is not broken. If you can afford tax cuts and tax credits, you can pay the workers. Besides, the unions already said they would agree to all financial cuts.

Rufus

February 22nd, 2011
8:47 am

gum’mint, are we writing in ebonics now ? Wouldn’t an article on the chicken sh– Dems leaving town be a more apt article ? For almost eighteen months youand Bookman called the Republicans the party of no, I guess we’ll start calling the Democrats the Chicken Sh– party.

Dave R.

February 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

Expecting Cynthia to have a clue about this would be like expecting the sun to rise in the West tomorrow.

Police and fire are public safety personnel, arguably about the only Constitutionally valid class of government employee. In addition, their careers have a much shorter lifespan than other government employees do. Let’s face it; you shouldn’t be running into a burning building much after 50, nor chasing down bad guys. As such, their medical and pension plans need to be taken care of much better than a teacher, janitor or admin aide who can obviously work until they’re 65 or more.

I’d prefer they not have a union at all, but if anyone deserves better work protections, it is our public safety personnel.

John K

February 22nd, 2011
8:52 am

The unions have agreed to reductions in order to pay for Walker’s corporate tax cuts. Now, he wants to bust unions to keep the Koch brothers and their tea party stooges happy.

And then we have this:

“If Walker were hoping to gain politically by sparing police and firemen, his plan has likely backfired. Last week, Tracy Fuller, director of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, denounced Walker’s decision to abolish collective bargaining privileges for public employees.

“I specifically regret the endorsement of the Wisconsin Trooper’s Association for Gov. Scott Walker. I regret the governor’s decision to ‘endorse’ the troopers and inspectors of the Wisconsin State Patrol,” Fuller wrote. “I regret being the recipient of any of the perceived benefits provided by the governor’s anointing. I think everyone’s job and career is just as significant as the others.”

Good Grief

February 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

Keep Up – So quoting the President is now nonsensical to real world application? (By the way, I’ve basically been saying that about the last three Presidents.) I love it that CT’s got her dander up about a conservative politician doing what a liberal politician said they would do.

Only a liberal

February 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

Cynthia are you criticizing special exemptions in legislation in general or just when a republican does it? I don’t remember any criticism from you when President Obama and the Dems exempted the unions from some of the Health Care legislation.

Jesse Jackson has a scheme for you......

February 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

Amen Rufus…..Some unions are so beholden to the leftist socialists it is sickening………Your quotation is excellent….”I guess we’ll start calling the Democrats the Chicken Sh– party.”

Jimmy Stewart

February 22nd, 2011
8:59 am

Out of the top twenty supporters of Walkers opponent (The Top being the National Democratic Party), most were unions.

When fascists lose, this is what they do. If they can’t get their way legally, they have no problem with violence and rioting to shut down a government that they no longer control.

Road Scholar

February 22nd, 2011
9:01 am

I see another business tax break a-coming! Wasn’t it the $140 M tax cut for business that created….. wait for it…a $140M deficit in the state budget? The same deficit their governor is trying to close on the backs of union workers?

Police and fire fighters do have dangerous jobs, but for the reasons the conservatives have posted against unions, why are they exempt from the union busting? I mean, from reading this drivel, the collective bargaining is bad no matter if it is the unions, or your kids. You know, it takes two parties to sign the agreements, just like the car labor unions and management. If you can’t afford the deal in the long term why approve it? You conserves state that people should be responsible for their decisions and livelyhood, which I agree, but the Governor should be responsible for agreements reached by his predecesors.

This is the only country in the world that has failed math. The equation is surplus/deficit= Expendatures- income. They are cutting business taxes as quick as they can and then are shocked that the surplus has shrunk or that the deficit grows.

Smarterthanyou: Are you the poster child for our failed educational system?

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
9:01 am

“the Dems exempted the unions from some of the Health Care legislation.”

this is not a fact

some folks need to learn what a waiver is….

Keep up the good fight!

February 22nd, 2011
9:02 am

Grief…political game playing is exactly one of the major reasons that public employees should have unions. Politics should not be involved with government employees jobs and who they support or don’t support poltically.

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
9:03 am

“rioting to shut down a government that they no longer control.”

you aren’t refering to Wisconsin are you?

cause that rioting thing then would not be a fact

Good Grief

February 22nd, 2011
9:04 am

Jimmy Stewart-
To me the saddest thing about this episode is the behavior of the Democratic State Senators. We don’t want to vote on this, so we’ll flee the state, out of the jurisdiction of the state patrol. It’s cowardly. It’s dereliction of duty, and there should be some form of punishment.

godless heathen

February 22nd, 2011
9:04 am

Keep in mind when viewing the chart above that many of the Public Sector employees (teachers) only work 9 months out of the year. And a trade-off for all Public Sector employees is job security. It’s worth something to never have to worry about being down-sized.

Paddy O

February 22nd, 2011
9:04 am

Ask yourself – exactly how did the author of this study obtain his metadata? Is this data just available to the author, or did they fudge? And, if Wisconsin has a beer magnate with a batchelors degree who earns 75 million a year, won’t that skew the data? Personally, I don’t believe this study is worth the digits that are in it.

Paddy O

February 22nd, 2011
9:05 am

The earnings info might be culled, but coupled with the individuals educational attainment? I sincerely doubt it.

cosby

February 22nd, 2011
9:06 am

Ahh..The political games…Play with numbers and you can make them say what you will. As one blogger noted, the private sector, in most cases, pay a larger percentage of their retirement, that is if they have one. Most private sector business’s have abandoned retirement plans and now only offer 401k’s as they realized they could not afford the defined benefit expenses. Now to Wisconsin, this is no more than a power play for Union workers or rather the union bosses to grab as much power as they can The private sector began years agao to distance themselves fron unions by going over seas. The union bosses realized that if they grabbed government employees then they could take money and lobby votes and grab power. If unions really work, ask Eastern Airlines, ask the auto industry that is suffering…but, CT, lets use numbers to justify mob rule and taking of tax payer money. sad, truely sad. PS…why the warm ad fuzzy for theses protestors and yet when the Tea Party gathers, there is nothing nice said..again sad, very sad.

light on policy

February 22nd, 2011
9:06 am

It’s baffling to me how people listen to faux news for their talking points…I tuned in to Hannity yesterday and his faux opinions have been repeated here verbatim.

Just to dispel some of the myths, the unions in Wisconsin have agreed to the Pension and healthcare concessions. This is a non-issue. Their point of contention is their collective bargaining power.

2/3s of the state’s corporations do not pay taxes, and state revenues from corporations have been cut in half since 1981. Giving corporations tax breaks, does not spur the economy. It never has it never will as lowering corp. taxes does not give a company a competitive advantage.

Road Scholar

February 22nd, 2011
9:07 am

Dave R:”Police and fire are public safety personnel, arguably about the only Constitutionally valid class of government employee.”

Finally the left brought up the Constitution. Doesn’t the constitution give people the right and freedom to form unions?To persue freedom and prosperity? I guess your tax return/refund won’t be coming any time soon, since they aren’t constitutionally “legal” to send yours!

granny godzilla

February 22nd, 2011
9:07 am

Good Grief

And when a famous Republican snuck out of a window to prevent a vote in his statehouse –

“It’s cowardly. It’s dereliction of duty, and there should be some form of punishment.”

Does that still apply?

Paddy O

February 22nd, 2011
9:08 am

The key problem is that teachers in general are now overpaid, factor in excellent health benefits and a generous pension, which can be accessed in their low 50’s, plus the fact that they have manipulated the public into believing that smaller class sizes (which decreases their work load and increases their employment numbers, but also decreases their productivity) – and you have what you have in GA, teachers being fired and class sizes increasing due to self-induced “priced out of market”.

james

February 22nd, 2011
9:09 am

I don’t know what gum mint is- anyway appears this is now a Mad magazine blog. I am looking how to fold my screen to make that funny picture.

Barry

February 22nd, 2011
9:10 am

Education does not always relate to good paying jobs.

Compare what a public school teacher is compensated say vs a Catholic school teacher with the same experience and education. Also look at the results they get with their students’ performance and achievement and you will find that Wisconson public school teachers are not giving the taxpayer her money’s worth and the parochial teachers are the one’s being unfairly compensated. campare apples with apples.

Education doesn’t = worth, but productivity should.

The Union had its chance for compromise when the Democrats were in power and thumb their nose at the tax payers. The taxpayers got tired of wasting time and money tatics of the Union declaring now it is time to reap the harvest and burn the waste and toos the waste makers.