Scott Walker, a Republican recently elected governor of Wisconsin, has gone on the offensive against the unions that represent most state workers. He demanded that the employees pay more for their health and pension benefits, and the unions apparently are willing to accommodate the governor, taking about a 7% cut in pay. Walker also is demanding an end to the ability of the unions to negotiate terms of their contracts with the state, and on this the unions are standing firm. For decades, the contracts between public employees and their employers have been negotiated collectively, with unions arrayed against government agencies and school boards.
I’m not sure he’s right, but Walker claims that the current financial situation is an emergency. Of course, he caused a great deal of it by reducing certain business taxes, but we can set that aside for the moment. Whether emergent or not, it’s hard to see how this should affect the process of negotiating future contracts. But let’s give the new kid a shot here, he hasn’t had the opportunity to destroy any large organizations before, let’s not stand in his way. If I Were King, I’d decree that he should go right ahead and eliminate collective bargaining. Let’s start with the school teachers. For next school year, each parent will have to negotiate with each teacher who will be instructing his child. Republicans should love this: the best teachers, or at least the most popular, will have standing-room-only class loads and take home staggering sums of money.
As to the governor’s salary for next year? His choice: Negotiate with a registered voter chosen at random, or negotiate with me.