Congress Nearly Federalized the Mess in Madison

Congress Nearly Federalized the Mess in Madison

(Source: March 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Time For Politicians in Both Parties to Own Up to Their Mistakes In late February, many concerned Americans in other states were paying close attention to the fierce, and still unresolved, battle over public-sector union monopoly bargaining in Wisconsin. Many observing the Madison showdown from their homes inwere undoubtedly amazed by what they saw. These five states, like roughly a dozen others, have no statutes on the books empowering government union officials to act as state and local public employees' monopoly-bargaining agents. When elected officials in such states make a judgment that a reform in public-employee compensation packages and work rules is necessary and can be prudently implemented to give taxpayers a better return on their money, they have the power to proceed. It is then up to the voting public to judge whether the reform was a good idea or not. In Wisconsin, however, like in other states which statutorily mandate union monopoly bargaining over public employee pay, benefits, and working conditions, elected officials from the governor on down have far less control over the roughly 50% of public expenditures that go into employee compensation. In the Badger State, half of state and local government employees are unionized. Elected officials and their appointees cannot make any significant changes in the way these employees are compensated or in how they are instructed to do their jobs without government union bosses' approval. Today, millions of Americans whose state and local governments operate free from Big Labor constraints appreciate, after watching the bitter struggle in Wisconsin unfold, better than ever before the importance of keeping union monopolists out of the government workplace. Only Intense Right to Work Lobbying Blocked Monopoly-Bargaining Bill What most freedom-loving Virginians, North Carolinians and Texans probably don't realize is that, just last year, the U.S. Congress came within a hair of taking away their prerogative to decide how their state and local government workplaces are run. At the outset of the 2009-2010 Congress, the votes were there to pass the so-called "Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act" in both the House and the Senate. Furthermore, President Obama was publicly vowing to sign this legislation as soon as it reached his desk. This measure, more accurately labeled the "Police/Fire Monopoly-Bargaining Bill," would have foisted Wisconsin-style labor relations on state and local public-safety departments in all 50 states.

If You Can't Beat Them; Buy Them

Big Labor lost at the ballot box and had their forced unionism power rolled back by the legislature and is now trying to buy Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices to undo the reforms pushed enacted by Gov. Scott Walker. The Wall Street Journal reports: Wisconsin Democrats and unions are still seething over their failure to thwart Governor Scott Walker's government union reforms. Now they're trying to spin their rage into gold by aiming it at the state Supreme Court election on April 5. If they defeat David Prosser's re-election bid, labor leaders and their Democratic allies hope a newly activist court will be their proxy in the fight against Mr. Walker's policies. Until the recent political inferno in Madison took over national headlines, the Supreme Court race was a snoozefest. Justice Prosser, who has served on the court for more than a decade, was the heavy favorite to hold onto his seat. In February's jungle primary that includes all candidates (all of whom are officially nonpartisan), he won 58% of the vote, followed by 25% for second place Joanne Kloppenburg, the assistant attorney general and an environmental attorney who is now the union darling. The top two primary finishers compete in the run-off, and that race is narrowing. A liberal outfit called the Greater Wisconsin Committee has thrown some $3 million into the race and launched a website, ProsserEqualsWalker.com, to whip heat against the Governor into the race. Democrats hope a victory would discourage other Republicans who might dare to face down Big Labor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is divided 4-3 on many cases and tilts slightly right. A defeat for Justice Prosser would shift that balance, and a notoriously liberal contingent led by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson would dominate when the court hears the Democratic challenges to Mr. Walker's reforms, which limited collective bargaining and required government unions to be recertified every year by their members. That battle was recently joined when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi put a hold on the law, and a state appeals court ruled yesterday that the Supreme Court should decide the case. If they flip the court, Democrats are also sure to target major tort reforms that Governor Walker signed earlier this year. Watch for trial lawyers dancing in the streets. From 2004 to 2008, the court's liberal majority, including Obama nominee to the federal bench Louis Butler, overturned medical malpractice caps and established a collective guilt standard whereby any company that had ever sold lead paint in Wisconsin could be subject to tort claims.

If You Can't Beat Them; Buy Them

Big Labor lost at the ballot box and had their forced unionism power rolled back by the legislature and is now trying to buy Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices to undo the reforms pushed enacted by Gov. Scott Walker. The Wall Street Journal reports: Wisconsin Democrats and unions are still seething over their failure to thwart Governor Scott Walker's government union reforms. Now they're trying to spin their rage into gold by aiming it at the state Supreme Court election on April 5. If they defeat David Prosser's re-election bid, labor leaders and their Democratic allies hope a newly activist court will be their proxy in the fight against Mr. Walker's policies. Until the recent political inferno in Madison took over national headlines, the Supreme Court race was a snoozefest. Justice Prosser, who has served on the court for more than a decade, was the heavy favorite to hold onto his seat. In February's jungle primary that includes all candidates (all of whom are officially nonpartisan), he won 58% of the vote, followed by 25% for second place Joanne Kloppenburg, the assistant attorney general and an environmental attorney who is now the union darling. The top two primary finishers compete in the run-off, and that race is narrowing. A liberal outfit called the Greater Wisconsin Committee has thrown some $3 million into the race and launched a website, ProsserEqualsWalker.com, to whip heat against the Governor into the race. Democrats hope a victory would discourage other Republicans who might dare to face down Big Labor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is divided 4-3 on many cases and tilts slightly right. A defeat for Justice Prosser would shift that balance, and a notoriously liberal contingent led by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson would dominate when the court hears the Democratic challenges to Mr. Walker's reforms, which limited collective bargaining and required government unions to be recertified every year by their members. That battle was recently joined when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi put a hold on the law, and a state appeals court ruled yesterday that the Supreme Court should decide the case. If they flip the court, Democrats are also sure to target major tort reforms that Governor Walker signed earlier this year. Watch for trial lawyers dancing in the streets. From 2004 to 2008, the court's liberal majority, including Obama nominee to the federal bench Louis Butler, overturned medical malpractice caps and established a collective guilt standard whereby any company that had ever sold lead paint in Wisconsin could be subject to tort claims.

President Obama Eggs on Big Labor Lawbreakers

President Obama Eggs on Big Labor Lawbreakers

(Source: March 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Labels Proposed Rollback of Union Monopoly Powers As an 'Assault' As the cover story of this Right to Work Newsletter edition reports, last month Wisconsin teacher union bosses encouraged educators in Madison, Milwaukee, and other school districts to strike illegally in order to participate in protests against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's monopoly-bargaining rollback proposal. Most teachers rejected union bosses' exhortations and reported for their jobs. However, the number of teachers who heeded the siren call of union militancy was sufficient to force multiple school districts, including Milwaukee's, to cancel classes. Madison's schools were closed for a total of four days. Many of the striking union militants, convinced that they should be paid for protesting rather than carrying out their assigned duties, collected phony "sick notes" from pro-forced unionism doctors. Wisconsin taxpayers may have to furnish these outlaw teachers with up to $6 million in "sick pay" for work they were perfectly capable of performing, but chose not to. Wisconsites quoted in media reports, including some who are normally sympathetic to Big Labor, are outraged by the actions of a relatively small share of Badger State teachers (in Milwaukee, for example, just a few more than 600 out of 5,400 teachers joined in the union-instigated "sickout"). Former Union Czar Andy Stern: President's Statement 'Helped Enormously' Even as they were losing the good will of the people of Wisconsin, however, teacher union zealots and thousands of other government union radicals who joined in their wildcat strikes got a "thumbs up" from the White House. On February 17, the second day of illegal teacher strikes, President Obama took the extraordinary step of inviting a reporter and camera crew from a Milwaukee TV station to sit down with him at the White House for an interview. Mr. Obama suggested he was okay with the portions of Gov. Walker's reform package that authorize public agencies to divert a significantly higher share of employees' wages and salaries into their health care and pension plans, and thus reduce taxpayers' total compensation liabilities. At the same time, the President blasted the provision that would, for the first time in decades, restore for most Wisconsin public employees the Right to Work without being fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.

Media Ignores Union Thuggery

Glenn Reynolds, aka the "InstaPundit," has it the nail on the head.  Big media ignores big labor's history of violence and brutish tactics even when it happens in front of their faces: Just a couple of months ago, in the wake of Jared Loughner's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, simple talk of "targeting" a political opponent for defeat was treated as beyond the pale. But let's look at some more recent language -- and conduct -- that our bien-pensant punditry can't be bothered to notice, let alone condemn. In Michigan, protesters opposed to Gov. Rick Snyder's austerity budget broke a window to get into the capitol building. One faces felony charges after assaulting police with an edged weapon; 14 were arrested. In Washington, DC, the windows at GOP headquarters were shot out, not the first time that Republican offices have been subject to such attacks. And blogger Ann Althouse -- a Wisconsin law professor who voted for Barack Obama -- received nasty threats for the crime of posting video depicting this thuggish conduct on YouTube: "We will f--- you up," the threateners wrote. This was not the first threat she has received for her blogging.In Madison, Wis., the state capitol was occupied for weeks by teachers-union members and their supporters. Doors and windows were broken; a mob tried to keep Republican state senators from entering the Senate chamber to vote. The GOP state senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker's budget also received death threats, including an e-mail reading, in part: "I want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die. "This is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult [sic] you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head.

Ready for Unionized Airport Security?

Kimberly Strassel makes the point -- as payback for big labor union support, the Obama administration greases the wheels for the largest federal organizing effort in history: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made some progress this week in rescuing his state from the public-sector unions holding it hostage. Ever wonder how Wisconsin got into trouble in the first place? Washington is providing an illuminating case study. Even as state battles rage, the Obama administration has been facilitating the largest federal union organizing effort in history. Tens of thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are now casting votes to choose a union to collectively bargain for cushier personnel practices on their behalf. Liberals are calling it a "historic" vote. It is. Henceforth, airport security will play second fiddle to screener "rights." Here's the fundamental problem with public-employee unions: They exist to compete with, and undermine, public priorities. The priority of Wisconsin citizens is a state that can provide basic services, encourage private-sector jobs, and pay its bills. Wisconsin public-employee unions, by contrast, were formed to, and exist to, erect a system that showers members with plump pay and benefits, crowding out state services and private jobs. The same disconnect is on display with the TSA. On Sept. 11, 2001, more than 3,000 Americans died after terrorists turned airplanes into missiles. It was a colossal security failure. Congress responded by creating the TSA. The merits of federalizing airport screening were always questionable, though at least the public priority was clear. Back then, a bipartisan majority of Congress agreed that a crack airport security service was incompatible with rigid unionization rules. Yet by 2008, Democratic presidential candidates were betting that security worries had receded enough that they could again pander for union votes. Candidate Barack Obama sent a letter to American Federation of Government Employees boss John Gage, vowing that his "priority" was giving Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) "collective bargaining rights and workplace protections."