APPLETON — Hours after Gov. Scott Walker announced his plan to strip away most collective bargaining rights from public employee unions, protesters and unions statewide vowed to fight back.

About 125 protesting union members and local school workers welcomed the governor as he entered the offices of the local newspaper Appleton Post-Crescent on Friday afternoon.

After talking to reporters for an hour about his new budget repair package, the governor exited through a back door.

Sarah Dilley, a special education teacher in Appleton, said she felt Walker was attacking public employee unions.

“I want him — it’s emotional — I want him to understand that this is affecting a lot more than a budget, that there are people behind this, families, that there’s a better way to do things than targeting a group of people,” she said.

Walker announced early Friday plans to all but end collective bargaining rights for the state’s public employee unions, as the first steps in an effort to address a $136.7 million budget shortfall in the current biennium and a budget expected to be $3.6 billion in the red in the next biennium.

He also is pushing for greater employee contributions for pension and health care plans.

Union workers across the state immediately protested.

When asked about filing a legal challenger to Walker’s union proposals, Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell said she would have to take a closer look.

“We’ll look at whatever we can do to fight this,” she said.

The governor stressed he would not seek to negotiate with union leaders, who represent the affected 175,000 state and local employees.

“For those who might ask, ’Why not bargain for this?’ Again, we’re not negotiating over a budget. If you’re going to negotiate, you’re going to do it in good faith, you have to have something to offer. The state’s broke, local governments (are) broke. They don’t have anything to offer,” he said.

As of now, unions have the ability to collectively bargain on their wages, pension contributions and health care plans.

Under Walker’s budget repair package, unions would only be able to collectively bargain their wages. Any wage increases above the rate of inflation would require voter approval.

The governor is also pushing to make Wisconsin a “Right to Work” state where public employees have the option of not financially supporting unions. As of now, unionized state workers take a cut in their wages to pay union dues.

Collective bargaining groups that cover local police, firefighters and state troopers would be exempt from the changes in Walker’s budget repair package.

Tom Kemp, associate professor economics as well as president of the faculty union United Faculty of UW-Eau Claire, said university employees feel like they’ve been “stabbed in the back” by Walker.

“We all got into this mess collectively, yet only a handful of us are being asked to foot the bill for it,” he said.

Kevin Crawford, former mayor of Manitowoc, said Walker’s tough stance on public employees was the practical approach.

“The fact of the matter is bargaining is just kind of out of control for public employees. It’s really a difficult environment to work in. When you go in expecting only to maintain, never to gain any traction, it’s a difficult way to manage and govern a city,” he said.

Walker also stayed true to a campaign promise of requiring public employees to contribute a greater cut of their salaries to their health care plans and pensions. As of now, public employees make no contributions to their pensions and a modest contribution to their health care plans.

(52) comments

Niceguy

Walker slipped out the back door because he does not have the backbone to face the people that want answers. The people that were interviewed in the article are right, targeting one group of people is not the answer. There is a reason why public enployees have had success at keeping benefits paid, that being, their wage base is considerably less than that of the private sector. They have taken minimal wage increases in order to keep their benefit packages status quo!

Bob

Go Unions. Keep the heat on Walker. During the California Governor's race 2010, the Nurse's Union put the heat on Whitman and she lost by 10 percent against Brown. Don't undermind the power of the Unions. Unions are you and I, everyday people. Not rich politicians like Walker.

CFHunter

I am not taking sides just asking Bob a question. Walker ran his campaign on fighting the unions and he won. Does that fact mean the average person in Wisconsin does not support unions? The unions were not able to fix their contract issues even when the dems ran the state. It seems they are at odds with everyone except themselves.

Rainmaker

Yellow Chicken ship can't face his own constituents.

hallie

The state unions have a choice. They can agree to concessions as the governor is proposing or they can fight it and work themselves right out of a job just like the US steel industry unions did. Seems like an easy choice!

Rainmaker

The governor has a choice. Settle with the unions or face strike which will cost the state x3 what it would have settlement would have been reached.

matty
matty

Rainmaker- I'm just trying to understand your rationale. Why would a strike cost us 3 times more than a settlement?

8588

I'm asking myself the same question Matty. I am not a big fan of unions. Don't see a whole lot of union workers getting rich because they belong to a union. On the other hand the Union Leaders seem to be pretty well off.

easthiller

Just look at the IAFF union I think they just had a few of their members get charge for theft from the fire departments they worked for check into that one and see how good the union members are.

proud_american

Walker is getting off to a great start as far as I'm concerned! We're in a recession, people. We ALL need to work together & sacrifice to fix it. NO increases should be justified at this time. Believe me, I DO NOT make more base pay than state workers & about 1/4 of my pay goes toward health care for my family & a 401K. I can't see any way of retiring before I'm 75 because I still won't have enough of either of these. I see state workers retiring at 55 with no worries. Time to sacrifice!

proud_american

Thanks Scott Walker!

MaryJo

I think what Walker is trying to do is totally unfair to the State workers, they are not the whole problem. What will the rest of the people in WI think if he starts taking wages and benefits away from you too? Why not just change the benefits to the NEW state workers that are just coming in? Sooner or later the older state workers will be retiring and when or if they are replaced,,then make the changes on the benefits then.
He is not going to just stop with the State workers, wake up WI!!

I Love Chippewa

3.6 Billion? What Walker is doing has to be done. There has to be cuts in state spending including state employees pay/benefits. Either this or its major layoffs for state workers. I work in the private sector and have family and friends that are state employees. I do make a little more an hour (less than $2) but I pay half of my health/dental which costs me $550 per month. My friend and family pay less than $75 per month for better coverage than I have. Walker was elected to fix this mess.

MaryJo

You say that its either all these cuts for state workers or big layoffs,,who pays for all the unemployment?? Does that take care of the problem?

Sand-Blaster

Having a Union is a double edge sword.
They can help protect employees from being FIRED on trumped up charges. (Like I was)
[Or NO reason]
And replaced by a "Temporary/Contract employee"

Unions also can bring a company (state) to its knees with wages & bennies.

I believe State Employees MUST pay more toward their Ins. & retirement.
They should try living with a 3K deductible & 6K out of pocket per person!
(Wife's Ins.)
That is if one stays "in network".
Stray from the "net" & numbers double!!

WillieWonka

Asking unionized workers to take cuts is one thing. And most are probably OK with that given the circumstances. The problem here is the added union busting messures being piled on. Cut pay and ask for shared pain in benefits? Fine. Eliminate bargaining rights? Not so much.

And exempting fire, police and state troopers serves only to reward those who supported Mr Walker all along. Coincidentally the father of State Assembly and State Senate leaders is being made head of State Troopers.

WillieWonka

Keep the gravy train going for family and friends. Punish everyone else. As the kids say - that's not cool.

This simply continues the new administartion's lack of good governing. Witness the wetlands bill designed for one person in Green Bay for instance.

More bad gov't - refusing the rail money DID blow an extra $100 million into the deficit. A little was for money already spent that must be repaid. Most was for necessary repairs that money was to be used for.

arthur

If the state is broke as the governor claims how could an arbitrater decide against the state.
If the state can prove that it is broke why should it fear arbitration?
Yes the employees should help pay for benefits just like the rest of us.
Should the state refuse to negotiate?
If so then supporters should admit that Democracy is dead and the Dictatorship has landed.
Want to save money ?
Stop giving so much to private schools and concentrate on public schools.
Improve schools for all.

matty
matty

Arthur- How much of Wisconsin's budget goes towards funding the private schools? I can't find the answer anywhere.

old timer

Ok Guv, you're taking out the Unions, now, how about making a "bigger" difference. Start by eliminating all "unfunded mandated" social programs that have been placed on local goverments (by the State)over the past. (Sorry social workers, this hits you) Then, review "unfunded mandates" in the area of public health, as there are several programs that are no/low cost to the client, and the rest of the tab is picked up by the taxpayers.

Just a couple of "bigger" examples.

chauge

As a student teacher, I fear for our schools in Wisconsin. Walker's proposals will discourage top candiates - such as the ones in my nationally recognized program at UW-Madison - to seek teaching opportunities in other states that continue to offer the benefits that equalize the lower wage we recieve. Walkers plans threaten those wage equilizers and they threaten our schools, teacher qaulity, and our children.

Tell your legislators to vote NO on the governor's bill.

jd54729

state employees make 4.8% LESS than private sector workers for comparable jobs, even when benefits are factored in

state employees make up only 16% of the states budget expendatures

chipplady

I was a state worker belonging to the union at one time. Now working non-union jobs. I do agree that more should be paid towards their insurance, BUT, this is still another jab against the people who make up the vast majority of middle income workers. CNA's,foodservice, maintenance, housekeeping, prison guards, laundry, those who work with dangerous individuals at Mendota and Winnebago, etc .
For heavens sake don't raise taxes on the wealthy!

Wilson

It will be very interesting to see how Kathy Bernier and Terry Molton votes on this. If they vote to strip the Public Unions their rights to bargain she will really tick off the University, School District(s), Municipal Employees, Stanley Prison Guards. Kathy Bernier is also running for Lake Hallie Village Board President will she also vote to cut State aid to local schools, villages, cities and towns? I have been told the cuts may approach 40%. If so the Police and Firefighters are out of luck.

Michael
Michael

From the words of Obama, change. Welcome to reality state workers, soon you will have to join the rest of Wisconsin residents an actually have to invest your own money and pay for insurance. I feel horrible for you (insert sarcasm here).

Rainmaker

Instead of posing for the cameras like he did during his campaign, Walker now sneaks out the back door instead of listening to the people he governs. This says everything about this so-called-leader's character. Can't face the heat.

OKOKOKOK

The point that many seem to be missing here, is that this is an attack on workers! If another worker makes more money than yourself because they bargain or otherwise contract to get a higher wage, and/or more benefits they are leaders as they are willing to stick their necks out to get ahead. The many complainers are followers. So when the leaders go backwards, which direction are the "followers" going to go??

Ajc_cf627

Unfortunatley in the Goverors race we had only had crap for choices and we got the bigger pile. For those that are interested. Check out Madison.com and ScottWalkerWatch.com .

misthaufen

Governor Walkers is following the typical Republican line. He can't win on the facts. He helps the wealthy, and the trick is to trick enough dumb and ignorant people to win election.

Merlin
Merlin

There shouldn't be a law that prevents people from working for the government UNLESS they join a union and pay union fees. Wage increases above COLA should be determined by the people who pay the bills, not some lobbyist, and not some union.

This idea that ONLY the union is expected to pay for the deficit is a naive and unrealistic way to view the situation. Everyone needs to share the responsibility in getting things back into order.

cont...

Merlin
Merlin

In case you have a hard time understanding this concept:

THERE IS NO MONEY!

Deal with the consequences of the actions of the failed ideas of the past.

doesthatwork4u

"Employee pay is only PART of the problem ..." to which we conclude DO NOTHING. "STATE Employees make 4% less that private sector ...." but get to retire BEFORE the private sector AND draw their pensions. "State Employee ..." the bill limits ALL government employee unions. Heard of TEACHERS (retire at 55), CITY or COUNTY workers? How about the old employees who stay on the job FOR free health care?
Unions got bills passed to protect them too.
I'm just not a huge fan of bullies on either side.

doesthatwork4u

Unions can't have it both ways; get legislation passed to protect "THEIR" jobs and not PAY either. Even Federal employees pay in to retirement and health care. Retired military, who were PROMISED "free health care" pay 20% co-pay after the first $3000 deductible.
The three states in the biggest financial difficulty are the 3 with FULLY FUNDED state union employee retirements; I'm not sure I WANT WI to go bankrupt.

chipplady

All workers, state and private, paid taxes into the government who in turn apparently mis-managed it. NOW a select group is being targeted to correct that? After this, what other group will he target to fix their mess. I'll just bet that this will be his one and only term. He wants to encourage people to come to Wisconsin? Right.

correctthinking
correctthinking

BREAK the unions...NOW!!! It's long past time to reign in their perks and benefits and get the chosen few back in line with everyone else. No more retirement at 55, with a nearly free ride in bennies. We don't get them, neither does the rest. Want to strike? Go ahead, there are thousands ready to take your jobs. Gonna protest? How much good will that do? NONE, as we know some of you are going to do something stupid, get arrested or some other stupidity, and where will the attention go? Give Up!!

warrior

Once again who is affected? The middle class..get it right people this isn't just an attack vs. unions it is an attack vs. the middle class workers! The rich get richer...the poor get poorer and the middle class gets wiped out!

matty
matty

i'm just wondering if anyone can answer the 2 questions I posted in this thread?

Merlin
Merlin

I can answer one Matty, the state does not "fund" private schools. There are programs that private schools can be a part of, school lunch programs for example. The voucher program doesn't "fund" private schools, it offers parents a choice in the one area that has it. A choice that cost the tax payers HALF of what it costs to send that same student to a public school - something that saves money (hint hint). In MN you can deduct K-12 tuition if your child doesn't attend a public school.

Merlin
Merlin

Maybe we need to ask ourselves how the liberal state of MN can afford to give it's tax payers a break like that.

The bottom line to this entire argument is that you have to start somewhere. The Unions are the perfect place to start because their purpose is outdated, corrupt, and unaccountable to the tax payers. Say what you want about Walker but at least he is doing SOMETHING, which is a whole lot better than the nothing that Doyle did - oh wait, he did manage to bankrupt us.

Michael
Michael

I heard the County board is looking at adopting Gov Walkers proposal.

hometowner

Right or wrong, I equate unions with democracy. A voice for the workforce. I understand the financial aspects of what Walker is proposing. I oppose him wanting to take away collective bargaining rights. I DID not vote for him. Unfortanately, he is as reckless in his politics as I had anticipated. Unions stand strong!

an80sreaganite

This is called leadership. I do feel bad for the state workers who are affected, but WI cannot afford to do nothing. The unions will still be able to bargain for wages, just not benefits, which likely mean state employees will have to pay more (like the rest of us). I like that he is stripping some of the power from unions. Why should someone be required pay union dues if they don't want to be represented? Unfortunately, the conflict of interest of government unions is to big to continue.

mom202

I'm very glad this is coming to a head. For all of those who want to recall Scott Walker sorry that is just not going to happen. We have to balance the budget and you can not pay for things if the money is not there. If teachers want to go work in another state go ahead. I hear Illinois and Minnesota may want you. They could always use some Vikings and Bears fans!
Maybe go to California and work and when payday comes they can give you an IOU and see how many groceries you can buy with that.

Wilson

After two days of asking around and researching it appears that Mr. Moulton and Ms. Bernier will be having a big Christmas present coming their way if they vote for the "Budget Repair" bill. My guess is that with a win of only 80 votes Ms. Bernier will be the first to go. Also the last time State and Local Employees were tied to the CPI was in the 1970's and 80's the issues inflation of 12, 13, 14 % per year.

Sand-Blaster

Well... It is obvious "Lord Walker" has "Tickled the Porcupine"

IMHO; State employees must contribute more to their retirement plan & Insurance premiums.

Union Busting.... Sounds like what Big Iron tried some 100 yrs ago.

Merlin
Merlin

[quote]warrior said: "Once again who is affected? The middle class..get it right people this isn't just an attack vs. unions it is an attack vs. the middle class workers! The rich get richer...the poor get poorer and the middle class gets wiped out!"[/quote]

I think you are a bit misinformed. The poor in this country are getting more handouts at the expense of everyone who pays taxes and also have a higher standard of living than the middle class of many western countries, thanks to Obama.

Merlin
Merlin

What is getting conveniently lost in this entire thing is what Doyle and his goons tried to pull before they left office. How convenient for the liberals to gloss over the fact that their goons tried to pass the budget and push off the union issues for another TWO YEARS. I.E. Pass a budget with a 3.6B hole in in it.

For all of that "status quo" crap you liberals spew, you sure sing differently when you are the ones doing it.

Time to get your comeuppance.

chipplady

What's Walker's benefits while in office? Maybe it's true what I read.....once out of office he gets free health care for life.....would mean his family too. hmmmm.

Blackhawkforever

The whole system is busted.

I agree with taking health insurance and pension off the bargaining table. Welcome to the real world.

They are underpaid though. The part that stinks to me is the 'raises over inflation' have to be approved by the taxpayer vote. So basically, no real raises ever. Bogus. Pay per performance with no taxpayer approval would be the way to go, IMHO. Pay the good ones what they're worth - and that's more than 30k a year.

empire 2

Some say this an attack on one segment of workers, it may be, but I so HOORAY!!! it's about time they get off my back and start hauling some of their own load like everyone else. Why should I pay 25% of my health care 100% of my retirement and 100% of their health care and 100% of their retirement, HELP!! I'm getting saddle sores.Scott Walker is my hero!!!!

Sand-Blaster

No Compromise ?

This opens the door for any ‘State’ (state or local/municipal) employer to say:
OK we will negotiate on wages…
Employees will have the following benefits:
*NO sick/personal time (FMLA aside)
*If you need time off, You) find/hire a Substitute
*NO Vacation time
*NO matching retirement
*Employee will pay 100% of ‘Group Health’ Ins. Premiums
*Employee pay 100% of Group Life Ins. Premiums
*Employee will arrive at (time) work until (time)
Continued...

Sand-Blaster

Example:
Chaperone students participating in curricular activities including ‘elective’ classes/curriculum

I am NOT saying this is appropriate,
Just postulating a possibility

So much for “compromise”

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