Wisconsin Public Workers Agree to GOP's Demands on Wages and Benefits; Republicans Reject Offer Outright

Some pundits continue to buy Scott Walker's spin that the Wisconsin uprising is a response to the governor's efforts to get his state's public employees to shoulder more of the burden for their health-care and pension costs, but the reality is that it's all about the union-busting.

In fact, according to the Milwaukee Business Times, the unions have agreed to all of the GOP's demands on wages and benefits, in exchange for Republicans dropping the provision that would strip them of the right to negotiate in the future.  

Although union leaders and Wisconsin Democratic Senators are offering to accept the wage and benefit concessions Gov. Scott Walker is demanding, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said today a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is not negotiable.

Democrats and union leaders said they're willing to agree to the parts of Walker's budget repair bill that would double their health insurance contributions and require them to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to their pensions. However, the union leaders want to keep their collective bargaining rights.

"I have been informed that all state and local public employees – including teachers - have agreed to the financial aspects of Governor Walker's request," Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) said. "This includes Walker's requested concessions on public employee health care and pension. In return they ask only that the provisions that deny their right to collectively bargain are removed. This will solve the budget challenge. This is a real opportunity for us to come together and resolve the issue and move on. It is incumbent upon Governor Walker to seriously consider and hopefully accept this offer as soon as possible."

However, Fitzgerald said the terms of the bill are not negotiable, and he called upon Democrats who left the state this week to stall a vote on the bill to return to the Capitol.

Earlier this week, Walker had said his bill was strictly based on the need to cut the budget and was not based on any political agenda.

Reporters who continue to portray this as a fight over wages and benefits are now committing journalistic malpractice.

AlterNet / By Joshua Holland

Posted at February 20, 2011, 6:16am

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