WI Gov. Walker Says He'll Set National Guard on State Workers if There Is "Unrest"
Scott Walker took office as governor of Wisconsin on January 3. Since then, he has not negotiated with state workers. Now he's fast-tracked a punitive plan to cut the wages of state workers, prevent them from bargaining over things like workplace safety, and break their unions. And no, he still will not negotiate, and since Republicans control the state legislature, his plan will almost certainly become law very very soon.
To enforce it, he's prepared to bring in the National Guard:
Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond wherever is necessary in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state employees.
Walker said Friday that he hasn't called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems that could result in a disruption of state services, like staffing at prisons.
Why on earth would this cause a disruption?
Under Walker's immediate plan, all collective bargaining rights would be removed for state and local public employees starting July 1, except when it comes to wages. But any salary increase they seek could be no more than the consumer price index, unless voters in the affected jurisdiction approved a higher raise.
Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the next contract is settled. Public employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.
The proposal would effectively remove unions' right to negotiate in any meaningful way. Local law enforcement and fire employees, as well as state troopers and inspectors would be exempt.
Walker's plan also calls for state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions starting April 1. They would have to contribute at least 12.6 percent toward their health care. Those two items would generate $30 million by July 1 and roughly $300 million over the next two years when combined with the other concessions.
Note that in addition to effectively cutting wages by 8% for the average worker, Walker is preventing them from negotiating over safety issues. You're a construction worker for the state who has concerns about safety equipment? Sorry.
In case you were tempted to believe this was something other than political payback, Walker is exempting fire fighters and law enforcement -- the two groups of state employees who supported his election.