Will Wisconsin be the GOP's 'overreach' moment?

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2011 - 6:27 PM
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SupervonFeb. 26, 11 5:47 PM

Please publish the truth that Federal workers don't have the ability to bargain for benefits and show that law was passed under Jimmy Carter by an all-Liberal congress. You can't take the truth.

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fishheadFeb. 26, 11 6:07 PM

I think this is far bigger than just busting the public union in WI. I see it as a major attempt to destroy the middle class. Once they bust this union they'll start working on the other unions and then go after the non-union American worker benefits and protections. This all stems from the Citizens United case that allowed the Kochs and others to buy massive amounts of "Free Speech" and change the outcome of elections.

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JIMGAVIGSFeb. 26, 11 6:14 PM

A more apt headline would be; "Will The Wisconsin Unions Be The First Domino To Fall? It's not hard to feel anger and betrayal at a rigged incestuous system where the unions bargaining technique is, 'you give me more money, an unsustainable pension, and a bottomless pit of taxpayer money for health insurance, and we'll browbeat or just plain beat our members into voting for your unreasonable salary, pension and health insurance".

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my4centsFeb. 26, 11 6:27 PM

This is not a war of "corporate-interest groups vs. public-sector unions" as Burcum states, nor is it "a major attempt to destroy the middle class" as fishhead states. This is a battle FOR the middle-class private sector worker, whether part of a private-sector union or not. These Public sector union members earn more than most of us in the private sector. If we compromise and don't make the collective bargaining changes there is nothing to stop the unions from negotiating all of their benefits back the next time they buy another election with all of their union dues.

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medas2005Feb. 26, 11 6:35 PM

Much is written about the incestuous relationship between government and the unions. Mr. Walker had a clear path of victory. Show the state that he would be a more effective bargaining agent against the unions and bring a better fiscal balance between the state and the union members. He would have fixed the real problem in the balance between the two--state government who gave away too much. Instead, Mr. Walker became a Death Star, determined to snuff the union members out of existence. Mr. Walker, this is life and death for them. Why are you surprised that they are fighting back like this. To Walker, these are just pawns to be moved and played for future political gain. To the members of the unions, this is house payments, food, and college for kids. Who has more motivation to hand tough?

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mooj34Feb. 26, 11 6:46 PM

No. Union busting is the phrase of the year among responsible voters who don't have a vested interest in overly generous government compensation. Their highly visible antics woke me from my ignorance of what the vampire unions have carved out from the common wealth. As a casual observer of this, I was shocked to find out what the overall compensation packages were to public sector employees. Thank goodness for this ruckus they have caused; we have become aware, and are now enlisting volunteer watchdogs in our district to participate in future negotiations between teacher unions reps and decision-makers so there are no more sweetheart deals getting made by people who might have more sympathy to teachers than the district finances. Obama's right; community organizing skill is the key--to prevent professional organizers from taking advantage of us.

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mlafleurFeb. 26, 11 7:10 PM

For those of you who feel this is a budget issue remember you can do away with all state employees and reduce the state general fund by 3%. most state money goes to k12, aid to local government and medicaid. This is clearly an attempt to defang these unions politically and not a budget issue. Don't people have a right to bargain collectively, if not why do corporations have a right to exist,as people.

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patrickjdFeb. 26, 11 7:30 PM

Where to begin. So the Wisconsin Club for Growth is ultra-rich and the AFL-CIO is NOT? Wealthy anti union groups vs public-sector unions? Are the latter groups not also rich? Taking away workers' rights? The Wisconsin bill will allow workers to choose whether to join a union or not. It's called freedom; unlike Card Check which will force workers to join a union. The "sleeping giant" is the taxpayer of course. This is a very poorly written article and I haven't gotten to the second page yet.

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my4centsFeb. 26, 11 7:37 PM

Collective bargaining in the private sector works fine in a free market - that allows for competition between businesses that will place limits on what a union can ask for. If they go too far they lose their jobs because their company is forced out of business. The lack of competition in government services, and the fact that unions end up negotiating contracts with the people they elect, make collective bargaining in the public sector a bad idea. This includes public education unions. Public sector unions did not exist before the late 50's, and even FDR had argued against them.

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Pico_daveFeb. 26, 11 7:37 PM

Madison's highest paid city government employee last year wasn't the mayor. It wasn't the police chief. It wasn't even the head of Metro Transit. It was bus driver John E. Nelson. Nelson earned $159,258 in 2009, including $109,892 in overtime and other pay. He and his colleague, driver Greg Tatman, who earned $125,598, were among the city's top 20 earners for 2009, city records show. They're among the seven bus drivers who made more than $100,000 last year thanks to a union contract that lets the most senior drivers who have the highest base salaries get first crack at overtime. And there was a lot of overtime - $1.94 million last year, $467,200 more than the bus system budgeted for and the most ever for the system - as employees exhausted sick leave and took advantage of unpaid leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act, officials said. "That's the (drivers') contract," said Transit and Parking Commission Chairman Gary Poulson. "(But) I think we want more information to the TPC and a discussion of all the facts." Metro general manager Chuck Kamp, who earned $118,690 last year, defended the employees. "These are very good employees who follow the rules that have been negotiated with the Teamsters," Kamp said, adding that Nelson and Tatman "are senior drivers with excellent safety and customer service records." But he said Metro is looking at ways to limit overtime, including tighter follow up on workman's compensation claims and exploring how to control the growth of Family Medical Leave Act time off by employees.

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