Missing senators rely heavily on union campaign dollars
By Daniel Bice and Ben Poston of the Journal Sentinel -- Feb. 28, 2011
"It's very simple," said Richard Abelson, executive director of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "We have interests, and because of that, we attempt to support candidates who support our interests. It's pretty hard to find Republicans who support our interests these days."
QUESTION: WHY ARE THE DEMS STILL IN ILLINOIS?
WRONG ANSWER: TO STOP PASSAGE OF THE BILL.
CORRECT ANSWER: TO GIVE THE UNIONS TIME TO COMPLETE NEGOTIATIONS ON NEW UNION CONTRACTS ALL ACROSS WISCONSIN.
This question has not been carefully scrutinized by the media, but I suggest to you that the answer is part of a well-orchestrated plan by the Unions all across Wisconsin. The Dems aren’t holding out in Illinois because they want to stop the Bill. They know that they can’t stop it. They know that they must return, and when they do, the bill will be passed. So, why are they really delaying their return?
The answer has to do with that part of the Bill which states that all existing Union contracts, in effect upon passage of the Bill, will be honored until the contract expires. This provision has caused all the Unions in the State to rush back to the bargaining table to cut a deal.
In Juneau County, all of the Unions are rushing back to the bargaining table to agree to the last proposal put on the table by management. In many cases, management (especially in small Villages, Cities, and School Districts) does not understand the new Budget Bill. They don’t realize how the Bill will give them freedom to remove 80% of the terms of their Union contracts and control spending. They don’t realize how the State Aid to their little village, city or school will be drastically cut, and how they will need to cut back on their own spending as a result. Moreover, in most cases, the Clerk, Administrator, or Superintendent of the village, city or school has a contract that gives them the exact same benefit package awarded to the Union, and so there is a disincentive for management to help the elected representatives make the right decision. In short, these small communities and school districts are being taken advantage of by the Unions and, in some cases, by the people upon whom they rely for advice and guidance.
As a result, many small villages, cities and schools are entering into 2-3 year Union contracts which establish the same benefits which the Unions’ TV Ads say they have agreed to give up. We’ve all seen the TV ad where the Firefighter says that Gov. Walker is being unfair because the Unions have agreed to all of his fiscal demands, and have agreed to contribute to their pensions and health care plans. That ad is a lie. The Unions are rushing back to the bargaining table to lock in the deals they’ve had for years, and, I’m sorry to say, most small communities and school districts are letting them.
For example, last Tuesday, the City of Mauston approved a 3-year union contract with no change to retirement or health care benefits. At the same time, the Juneau County unions suddenly agreed to the offer that management put on the table 6 months ago, but only on the condition that the County Board immediately approve the contract. On Friday, the County Board held a special session to approve the new contract (which maintained all benefits at current levels and gave the Unions a 1% per year wage increase). However, at the last minute, the Board was informed of the contents of the Budget Bill, and the Board voted to postpone any action on the Union Contract until the Budget Bill is passed.
In response, there was a huge protest at the Courthouse, and numerous Union leaders from Madison made the trip to Juneau County to rally the troops. It was a very big deal for our little community.
I pass along this information because you may be seeing the same activity. If so, I urge you to inform your local elected representatives of the effects of Gov. Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. Don’t assume that they understand it. Yesterday, I met with some members of our County Board, and before I talked to them, they had no understanding of how the Budget Bill related to their Union contracts. I know this is hard to believe for those of us who closely follow this stuff, but for the ordinary citizen, the connection is not clear.
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