- Public sector employees would still be allowed to collectively bargain on wages, but not on health-care or pension plans.
- Raises would be tied to the inflation rate, unless the state’s voters deemed the employees worthy of larger raises.
- Public sector employees would have to pay slightly higher rates for their health care and other benefits, but those rates would remain lower than those of the average private sector employee.
- Public sector employees would be required to pay 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums; they currently pay about 6 percent.
- Public sector employees would have to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions under Walker’s plans; currently some pay nothing. From 2000 to 2009, public sector employees paid $55.4 million into a pension system that cost $12.6 billion.
- Police, firefighters and other public safety workers would be exempt from the new collective bargaining restrictions.
That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany -- the former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O -- in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.
The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”
Public sector unions insist on laws that serve their interests -- at the expense of the common good.
Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized.
George Meany was not alone. Up through the 1950s, unions widely agreed that collective bargaining had no place in government. But starting with Wisconsin in 1959, states began to allow collective bargaining in government. The influx of dues and members quickly changed the union movement’s tune, and collective bargaining in government is now widespread. As a result unions can now insist on laws that serve their interests – at the expense of the common good.
Union contracts make it next to impossible to reward excellent teachers or fire failing ones. Union contracts give government employees gold-plated benefits – at the cost of higher taxes and less spending on other priorities. The alternative to Walker's budget was kicking 200,000 children off Medicaid.
Governor Walker’s plan reasserts voter control over government policy. Voters’ elected representatives should decide how the government spends their taxes. More states should heed the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Executive Council’s 1959 advice: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress — a right available to every citizen.”