Edit Note: I wrote that "protesters are getting doctors' notes". It should have said "teachers". I apologize for the error.
In addition, the Taft-Hartley Act outlawed the closed shop in 1947, but allowed for union shops. The errors have been corrected.
February 23; this just in: http://www.freep.com/article/20110223/NEWS02/110223020/0/NEWS09/All...
February 24; more cuts looming: http://www.fireengineering.com/index/articles/Wire_News_Display/136...
I don’t mind telling you that all of the shenanigans going on in Wisconsin are making me meaner than a badger. All of the posturing for the cameras by the various “stakeholders” is, well, a bunch of badgering.
Fire, police, teachers and the other public sector employees would do well by having an experienced public information person release statements. Because they are so financially and emotionally vested; I don’t think that they are thinking too clearly and are therefore not communicating too clearly. And none of them will go deeper than “Walker wants to take away collective bargaining”. As I understand it, Governor Walker wants to “re-shape” collective bargaining and yes; it might very well weaken collective bargaining going forward.
I also wonder who is paying the bills on the 14 Democrats staying at the Rockford, IL Best Western hotel. Taxpayers should not be stuck with this “flee fee” and the legislators should have their pay docked for each day they miss until their return. For the record; I would say the same thing if it were Republicans or Independents.
And what about revelations that teachers are getting doctors’ notes to excuse their absences from work or that high school students are at the protest as extra credit work. What is that teaching our kids? Remember the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter? Epstein’s notes from home were always signed “Epstein’s Mother”. Would students be punished for bringing in a fictitious doctor’s note? Damn right they would. Is there hypocrisy here?
What would you suppose is the public’s perception from watching this congress of public employees?
I’m sure that to other union and like-minded folks, it gives them that Chris Matthews thrill up their leg, but to the everyday mom and pop, they are probably wondering who is teaching the school kids, who is fighting crime on the streets, who is collecting the garbage and plowing snow and who is fighting fires in the communities if THEY are in Madison, Wisconsin demonstrating.
I should thank the 14 Wisconsin state senators for bringing their business to Illinois. God knows that we can use the business.
And in Illinois, we KNOW that the governor supports unions, because after-all, he made a sweetheart deal with them before the last election and we also know the corrupt nature of politics in Illinois.
Yes; I’m glad that I live in Illinois, where, right after the state income tax was raised, many in government gave their staff a raise. How sweet is that? And in my own little school district, where we just approved a tax hike, single teachers still pay ZERO for their health insurance and family pays a premium above the single rate.
We talk a lot in the fire service about black eyes and how, as a nation of firefighters, even the “black eyes” on a local level can affect public perception on a national level. I know; the air of solidarity is thick in Madison, but still, the folks back home are forming their opinions from what they are seeing, hearing and reading from the news outlets and as we all know; that can be very powerful.
So; as my title indicates, are we seeing growing anti-sentiment against public sector employees, unions, government representatives who mismanage revenues or are taxpayers rising up and speaking up for what they are willing to spend for services, regardless of those services and are they wrong to believe that they will settle for less?
First and foremost, I am NOT anti-union, but I AM for freedom of choice. That would include the freedom to choose whether or not I want to belong to a union. I don’t believe that contract language between a union and an employer should include union membership as a condition of employment.
I was a card-carrying member of the UAW for ten years with a previous employer. Illinois, like Wisconsin, is a “union shop” state, so, in order to work for that company, I had no choice but to join the union after ninety days of employment.
“Closed shop” means that employees at unionized workplaces are required to be members of the union as a condition of employment. Union dues were automatically deducted from the employees’ paychecks. Closed shops were outlawed under Taft-Hartley in 1947.
"Union shop" is an agreement between union and employer to hire union workers or to hire non-union workers with the understanding that they will have a set period of time-at least 30 days-to join the union or lose their jobs.
Under “right-to-work”, employees have the choice of joining a union or they can choose not to. However; non-members are afforded the same contract benefits, even though they do not pay union dues.
As I write this, Wisconsin and five other states (http://www.redstate.com/laborunionreport/2011/02/15/new-hampshire-h...) are considering right-to-work legislation.
There is an interesting article that I found that was written by Leo Troy of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research entitled “Freedom of Choice, Business Climates and Right to Work Laws”. (http://www.nilrr.org/files/Freedom%20of%20Choice%20and%20Business%2...)
As I read the article, I could easily see the correlation to my current situation.
The company that I currently work for (closed shop) is moving the operation to another state (right-to-work) and I can tell you that it’s not because they are looking for a more experienced work force.
But, that is relative to the private sector. What about the public sector?
Here is an article that suggests that the demonstrations in Wisconsin is all about power. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html?_r=1)
Are we seeing a backlash because the unions have left communities with the impression that they are unwilling to “give back”, because it’s regressive and weakens the union?
Does the lack of transparency between unions and its members make public sector employees easy targets for the backlash?
Are communities rejecting the political influence that unions have historically held in this country?
Will the events in Wisconsin force city and state governments to become more fiscally responsible with ALL tax money?
There have been several articles written about public employees being victimized for their salaries, benefits and pensions. For firefighters, it is eroding the pedestal that historically has been where the public has put them.
Firefighters who are willing to put their lives in Harm’s way for their citizens now find that THEIR lives aren’t worth their salaries and pensions to their citizens. It’s no longer what they get for their taxes; it is about what it costs. So; communities apparently believe that the safety of their firefighters and their community isn’t worth the cost. Both sides lose.
Let’s face it; we have always said that it is a thankless job and as we have seen in Detroit, Gary, Camden, Tulsa and other cities; they are willing to raise the stakes, blame public servants for their “bad luck” and believe that the next card will have them “all in”.
State and city governments have gambled their way to the current financial messes.
Unfortunately, they believe that they can gamble their way out.
More related links: http://www.fireengineering.com/index/articles/Wire_News_Display/136...
The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of any professional organizations that the author belongs to or www.fireengineering.com, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.