Wisconsin elected officials go head to head with unions

Posted By on February 18, 2011

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On the heels of the Arizona shooting and the liberal media blasting their favorite “target” Sarah Palin, as well as blaming other rightwing conservatives for using incendiary speech … I wonder why they remain silent as union protestors put crosshairs on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker? wisconsinunionsmidwestmussCould it be there is a bias … I find that hard to believe? [sarcasm]

It also has me wondering what rock the union members who are holding up such images were living under when President Obama and others preached civility in how we communicate with each other. I’d like to think that “if” those who are protesting are teachers and other taxpayer supported employees that they are paying attention to what others on the left suggest may have pushed an unstable individual to shoot an elected representative (which some immediately blamed without evidence, mind you).

wisconsinunionswalkerhitlerThat aside, the protests in Wisconsin are probably just the first in what we can expect to see as states try to come up with ways to balance their budgets (Ohio could be next, so let’s handle the negotiations carefully Gov. Kasich).

After the November election, and seeing that the majority of people in our country are struggling to make ends meet in this recession, the writing is on the wall: Those elected need to cut spending. People are not willing to have their taxes increased in order to cover government’s continued mismanagement, poor negotiations (pushing problems into the future) or keep public employee’s pay and benefits increasing or at current levels; cuts are immediately necessary. An agreement needs to be made that reduces government spending … be it federal, state or local AND the salaries, pensions and healthcare benefits that the taxpayers are funding for public employees; this needs to be on the table for discussion — or chopping block depending on your perspective (see Greta Van Susteren’s best interview with Rep. Paul Ryan in a previous post – we need more Paul Ryans).

If you are a privately employed (or unemployed), self-employed or a retiree, take a look at what changes you have had to make when it comes to your benefits this past decade compared to what your taxes are funding for the public sector.

  • Is ‘your’ employer providing and paying for your pension?
  • Do you put income aside for a retirement program … or is it 99.8% paid by your employer?
  • What do you pay per year for health insurance … I’m betting it has been a long time since you’re employer has paid 95% of it, not to mention stiff deductibles and co-pays?


Something needs to change and public employees need to be reasonable when it comes to what they expect from their struggling fellow citizens being asked to fund their salaries, work hours, vacation time, benefits, pensions and healthcare. Although those debating from the union perspective who are looking at wages and benefits will argue that there is still equality between public and private lifetime compensation (debatable), the reality is that the states and federal government cannot continue to expand the public employee roles and support the public sector through more borrowing and higher taxes without impacting the economy. Reform needs to be made … and soon.


  • For what it’s worth, of what goes into her retirement fund, Gina pays 50% and the school system pays the other 50% so it’s not nearly as skewed as your 99.8% figure. Of course, she’s newer to the system and I’m certain she doesn’t have all the options older, longer-serving teachers have.

    I actually pay less for health insurance than she does, too. We have no monthly premiums but I’m responsible for the first $1200 out of pocket, then have a percentage copay until I hit a yearly max.

    • Good info Steve. It’s hard to get ‘equal’ stats in order to compare apples to apples … but I find it hard to believe we can continue on the curent path without making changes. The taxpayer supported workforce has grown while private industry has not … this can’t continue without it ending poorly.

      Perhaps Ohio teachers unions have already made changes that public employees in Wisconsin have not? I still think the long term solution isn’t pushing problems down the road. It is saddling taxpayers for promises being made into the future. Whether it is public employee promises, medicare or social security … we’re all going to have to give something if we expect taxes & borrowing to cover an aging, long living population. 

      Here’s hoping you’ll be gainfully employed when I’m ready to use medicare & collect social security! 🙂

      • Yeah, cause it sure won’t be around by the time I retire!

        And I’m not for everything with union and tenure… I mean when you look at how lawsuit-happy people are, any teacher can be totally screwed if a kid’s pissed at them and says they did something inappropriate. Why would any school district pay hundreds of thousands in legal costs for the defense when they can simply get rid of the teacher and hire a new one for $35K?

        On the other hand, tenure can certainly keep folks around that aren’t worth their weight in rubber dog crap and should’ve been fired year ago. So you need some protection but it can’t be to the degree it makes bad teachers virtually untouchable. Obviously there are good and bad reasons for both sides of the thing, but I agree there’s got to be some sort of sensible middle ground for the whole situation.

        • “worth their weight” … The problem with the current structure, where pay is not based on job performance and benefit to an organization, is that some employees are paid more than they are worth and others taken advantage of and fund the overpaid dead wood. Unfortunately this “pay, benefits and time off based on years of service” is something that is pretty deeply ingrained in our culture.

          It should be structured as it is in many other professions … pay for the ability and expertise to do the job required of them and continued competition to keep that job — paid based on one’s worth, what a concept? I see nothing wrong with paying for a little experience and expertise, but not when the numbers can’t justify it and the discrepancy in salaries between workers doing the same job. Why do we increase pay and benefits so significantly just because someone has worked more years? Professionals and workers in all walks get paid for the benefit they bring to an employer and the sooner we bring that to the public workforce the more good workers will receive what they are worth. Good doctors are in demand, top salesmen will get raises, entrepreneurs make money when they are better than their competitor and workers who benefit their employer should get the same salary whether they have been working 5 or 25 years — pay based on what the market demands. I don’t see why organized labor should be so different … it just hurts the competitiveness of our country and doesn’t encourage excellence from the American workforce.

          • I’m definitely more in favor of the charter school movement than I used to be. Have you seen The Lottery? Darn good documentary about them in NYC.

            Obviously I’ve got to watch out for us since Gina’s a teacher but she’s new enough that we see both sides of the system. Some protection is absolutely necessary when you see how easy it is for a kid mad at a teacher to ruin their career. On the other hand, the system in it’s current state definitely needs some work.

          • Our comment exchange today has me watching the ‘Waiting for Superman’ tonight. Not encouraging.


          • Ooh, I want to see that – it’s on request at the library, but I haven’t made it to the top of the list yet!

          • Steve: For the record … and to keep me off of Gina’s ‘rightwing’ nut-job list … I’m a supporter of public education and see it imperative for our nation’s future; the status quo isn’t working and is costing taxpayers too much. I a product of the K-12 public schools and I’ve purposely kept my kids in public schools, even as many of my peers were sending their kids to private schools fearing risking their future potential (a valid concern). Thankfully our district still has strong parental involvement and the majority of voters that care about educating their children … and by ‘care’ I’m not just talking about more money whenever requested.

            I’m also a little more invested in schools then many might think. Although most of my career has been in business, I did spend a few years teaching … starting with teaching in the public schools and spending a short time teaching printing and photography at the college level. In fact my graduate degree is in education. I know what it takes to be a good teacher and how difficult “the system” was even 25 years ago; community support of teacher and their own unions have not made things better for ambitious and hard working teachers. It is far too easy to become lackadaisical and become disgruntled to the point many “just put in time and wait for early retirement.” What we see on a national level from the teacher unions is NOT helping the well intended teachers do a better job … and is therefore failing to prepare American children with an appropriate education in order to compete in today’s world economy.

          • Have we set a record for most replies on a blog topic yet? 😉

            No worries, it’s a good debate and I totally agree the whole system’s messed up. However, you’re spot-on that a huge part of the problem in public schools is parental involvement. I don’t care how great the teachers are… if the kids go home and do nothing but play video games, smoke, have sex, drink, whatever – and don’t have anyone helping them out or keeping them on track with their homework – there’s only so much power you have for those 6-8 hours a day in the classroom. When you see some of the charter school statistics, I do think there are benefits of their structure but you also tend to have students in them because their parents wanted them there and wanted the best education for their kids… so they were and remain INVOLVED. I don’t know what the solution is for that but I’ve seen things in documentaries and know enough from Gina and other friends that are teachers to see that;’s a serious part of the overall problem.

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.