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This is a critical moment in the nation’s battle to dig itself out of debt and free itself from the iron grip of public union monopolies. As you know from reading this blog, the Wisconsin showdown has been a long time coming. I remind you that there are many brave workers exposing the corruption and costs of compulsory unionism. Today’s syndicated column gives an overview of the Big Labor battle in Wisconsin — now spreading to Ohio and Indiana, where the DNC/OFA are organizing the community of grievance-mongers kicking and screaming against overdue reforms.
Like someone famous always says: Change is never easy.
Apocalypse Now: Wisconsin vs. Big Labor
by Michelle Malkin
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor’s collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
As the free-market MacIver Institute in Wisconsin points out, the benefits concessions Walker is asking public union workers to make would still maintain their health insurance contribution rates at the second-lowest among Midwest states for family coverage. Moreover, a new analysis by benefits think tank HCTrends shows that the new rate “would also be less than the employee contributions required at 85 percent of large Milwaukee_area employers.”
This modest call for shared sacrifice has triggered the wrath of the White House-Big Labor-Michael Moore axis. On Thursday, President Obama lamented the “assault on unions.” AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union bosses dubbed Walker the “Mubarak of the Midwest” while their minions toted posters of Walker’s face superimposed on Hitler’s. Moore goaded thousands of striking union protesters to “shut down” the “new Cairo” while the state’s Democratic legislators bailed on floor debate over the union reform package.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan spurned the opportunity to condemn thousands of Wisconsin public school teachers for lying about being “sick” and shutting down at least eight school districts across the state to attend capitol protests (many of whom dragged their students on a social justice field trip with them). Instead, Duncan defended teachers for “doing probably the most important work in society.” Only striking government teachers could win federal praise for NOT doing their jobs.
Yes, the so-called progressives truly believe that bringing American union workers into the 21st century in line with the rest of the workforce is tantamount to dictatorship.
Yes, the so-called progressives truly believe that by walking off their jobs and out of their classrooms, they are “putting children first.”
If ever there were proof that public unions no longer work in the public interest, this is it. Big Labor dragoons workers into exclusive representation agreements, forces them to pay compulsory dues that fatten Democratic political coffers and then has the chutzpah to cast itself as an Egyptian-style “freedom” and “human rights” movement.
Meanwhile, union leaders elsewhere are quietly forcing their low-wage members to share the sacrifice in order to preserve teetering health funds. In New York state, Skidmore College campus janitors, dining service workers and other maintenance employees received late notice from the SEIU that 4.15 percent of their gross earnings will now be deducted from their paychecks to cover the cost of the health plan provided through the behemoth 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund. (If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is one of several privileged SEIU affiliates that has received an Obamacare waiver.)
These workers are forced to join the union in order to preserve their jobs, and unlike non-union workers, they are locked into a single health plan. The SEIU has now decreed that they must pay new fees to include spouses on their plans and has hiked employee co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs.
What’s necessary for New York union workers is necessary for Wisconsin union workers — and for the rest of the protected union worker class in bankrupt and near-bankrupt states across America. The “persuasion of power” so ruthlessly and recklessly exercised by the SEIU and its thuggish allies must be broken by the moral courage of fiscal discipline. It’s now or never.
Update: A reader who is a teacher in Minnesota shares his union’s Wisconsin protest recruitment organizing e-mails with directives from the president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO:
I just received a forward from our union president which I have included below that made me sick. This was sent to my school district email and is a perfect example of how the unions manipulate and stronghold educators.
The original email is from Shar Knutson, President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.
A number of you have asked about additional ways to show solidarity with Wisconsin workers and we want to provide them to you.
Here are some events happening in the next 72 hours in Western Wisconsin and in Madison. We have tried to provide as many details as possible:
Friday, February 18
Rally in Madison
Minnesotans are invited to travel to Madison and rally with workers at the Wisconsin State Capitol at Noon. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will be among the speakers at this
*Please note: You will likely need to park and walk several blocks to and from the Capitol. Here is a general link for driving directions that will lead you close to the Capitol: [ http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=IuCP2rsXge0ipu51yluQlFpfNQ%2FPDm9x
Saturday, February 19
Event in Hudson
We are urging union leaders, staff, members and supporters to show their solidarity with Wisconsin workers at a 10:00 a.m. visibility event on the Carmichael Road bridge over I-94. Please plan on picketing from 10 a.m. until Noon.
A park and ride lot is located near this location. For more information: [http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=f65%2BWBRvaZ09mQgGdETUBpY2%2BGfkB%2Fn8
Saturday, February 19 and Sunday, February 20
Canvass in Western Wisconsin
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is organizing in-district canvassing in River Falls, Eau Claire and La Crosse from 9:00-1:00 p.m. Saturday and Noon-5:00 p.m. Sunday. Locations are listed below.
RIVER FALLS: 430 Crescent Street
EAU CLAIRE: Eau Claire Labor
Temple; 2233 Birch Street
LA CROSSE: IAM
District 66; 1307 Market Street
]emails to your legislators if you live in Wisconsin.
Please call the legislative hotline at 1-877-753-5578 to ask your State Senator to vote NO on any bill that attacks workers and the middle class instead of creating jobs, and NO on any bill that forces cuts that will sink our economy even lower.
Spread the word.
Use Facebook, twitter and good old-fashioned word of mouth to make sure that your friends and neighbors have [ http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=sUQOUB0lt9lyFgrMxibx35Y2%2BGfkB%2Fn8]seen the ads and are taking action.
I know that working people will not sit idle while our rights are taken away. We stand united against this legislation with our brothers and sisters across the
border in Wisconsin and across the country.
President, MN AFL-CIO
Yesterday, I published a letter of support for GOP Gov. Scott Walker from a public school teacher in Tennessee.
Another teacher e-mailed me her letter of support from California:
Dear Gov. Walker:
I am so sorry you are getting pounded by those teachers, students and Unions. As a teacher in California I got into trouble with the Unions myself when I only asked a simple question.
I repeatedly tell everybody I know that they are crazy to give any more money to education/teachers/teacher’s unions. Here in Los Angeles all we do is throw money at education and here we are at the bottom in the country. We only graduate 40% of our high school students and they can’t even read, do not know history or math, and more importantly cannot do any critical thinking.
What I see in the Los Angeles classrooms is pretty much just ideological brainwashing by a huge majority of their teachers. And yes, teaching their students to protest and to march. In my humble opinion this is child abuse.
Please stand strong and do not let these Union thugs beat you down. So many of us stand behind you.
Sondra Barnes, Van Nuys, CA
Update: Gov. Walker has issued a police order for the AWOL Dems.
Update: Via Ben Smith, a majority of Americans side with Gov. Walker and even go further in opposing the entire public union racket:
Poll: Public unions a hard sell
A new poll from the Washington-based Clarus Group asked:
Do you think government employees should be represented by labor unions that bargain for higher pay, benefits and pensions… or do you think government employees should not be represented by labor unions?
A full 64% of the respondents said “no.”
That includes 42% of Democrats, and an overwhelming majority of Republicans; only 49% of Democrats think public workers should be in unions at all.
That’s on the fundamental right to organize, before you get to wages and benefits. And that puts Scott Walker in a pretty good political place.