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Wisconsin Teachers Prove Our Point


Posted by Joshua Culling on Thursday, February 17th, 2011, 11:36 AM PERMALINK


The Wisconsin Legislature is debating Special Session Senate Bill 11, which would strip government employees of their right to collectively bargain and require them to increase their share of the cost of pension and health benefits.

Teachers unions fall under the purview of this legislation, proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. They're staunchly opposed, arguing it will harm their ability to educate Wisconsin's children.

But they're blowing a huge hole in that line of reasoning today. Teachers unions are organizing members statewide to call in sick in protest of SB 11. Leaving students in the classroom, they're instead marching on Madison to protest a law that would make them pay less than 6 percent toward their pensions and 12.5 percent (half the national average!) of their health care premiums.

Refusing to do your job is generally grounds for dismissal, or at least some discplinary action. But under the protection of a strong statewide union, teachers are able to parade around the Capitol yelling about fictional social injustices. Wisconsin teachers unions have proven our point in support of ending collective bargaining for state employees. Hopefully the status quo won't continue much longer.

As Stephen Hayes tweeted this morning, teachers in Wisconsin pay roughly $1100 annually in union dues, but they are somehow opposed to paying a slightly more sane share of the cost of their benefits package. And it's not only the end of union dues that effective and skilled teachers in Wisconsin should be cheering. For years the union has shielded ineffective teachers from termination; on the contrary, it has pushed for pay raises for bad teachers. That drives down the ability to afford higher compensation for the truly transformative and effective educators.

MSNBC and others are attempting to paint the debate in Madison as an assault from the right wing. But the fight to end government employee unionization is not about right versus left. It is about a small sliver of the left fighting everybody else. Unionized public employees are generally overpaid, underworked and unaccountable. Their compensation is the driving force behind Wisconsin's budget woes. And it's time to end business as usual in Wisconsin and across the country. Where President Obama has talked breathlessly about the necessity of changing the status quo, governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich are acting while the president punts.

I end with a quote that I think sums up the perils of public sector unionization quite nicely:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations ... The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for ... officials ... to bind the employer ... The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives.

The speaker? Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1937.

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