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InsiderOnline Blog: February 2011

High Noon in Madison

Madison, Wisconsin, was a quite a scene this week, as thousands of school teachers called in sick so they could rally at the capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals to rein in public employee benefits and collective bargaining rights. The sick-out has forced Madison schools to remain closed for three days running. But the teachers did more than just call in sick. Some brought their students, too, as this clip from the MacIver Institute shows:

Apparently, they’re not sure what they are protesting. Maybe their civics instruction has been lacking.

The Governor wants public employees to pay at least 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums and contribute roughly half of their pension costs. Currently they contribute very little. But it is the proposals to rein in collective bargaining rights that have generate the most controversy, as The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell explains:

On Thursday, the President told a Wisconsin television station, “I haven’t followed exactly whats happening with the Wisconsin budget … some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions.”

President Obama is wrong: Denying government unions the power of collective bargaining is not an assault on all unions. Previous Democratic Presidents understood this fact. No less a progressive icon than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in 1937: “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.” …

If government employees want to voluntarily form associations and lobby the government for higher pay, better benefits, and working conditions, that is their constitutional right. But they have no right to force all employees to join their organization and take money from their paychecks every week. Governor Walker’s bill fixes these problems: It affords government workers the right to quit their union and keep their jobs; it requires unions to demonstrate their support through annual secret-ballot votes; and it stops state and local governments from collecting union dues through their payroll systems. These are common-sense measures that would increase worker freedom, restore power to taxpayers, and make America more competitive internationally. Keep fighting, Governor Walker! The American people can’t afford you to lose. [See “Morning Bell: The American People Can’t Afford to Lose Wisconsin Union Showdown,” February 18, 2011.]

Posted on 02/17/11 03:36 PM by Alex Adrianson

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