Daily Kos: What Most People Don’t Understand About the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill

February 18, 2011- I have been attending the rallies, watching the coverage, reading the blogs and comments and come to the conclusion that most people don't know the true horror of this bill. I have come to set the record straight particularly when I saw a Front Page Diary here on Daily Kos that, again, talks about this bill only affecting state workers.

There is no fiscal crisis in Wisconsin. Governor Walker reports a nearly 130 million dollar deficit, but doesn't report that he caused it by giving a 140 million dollar tax break to large multinational corporations here in Wisconsin (e.g. WalMart). However, this cover story gives him an excuse to do the unthinkable.

State workers in Wisconsin have been without contracts for some time. The latest agreement (containing major concessions) was not passed by the State Legislature last year due to political maneuvering which led one Democrat to vote against it (he was later rewarded with a position in the new Walker administration).

But that's not really what I came to talk about. I came to talk about a so-called Budget Repair Bill to solve a fake budget crisis without addressing the budget at all.

So, what's in the bill? Prohibition of any unions or collective bargaining for most state workers. Those that continue to have any union representation at all will be limited to bargaining for wages only which will have a mandatory limit which will be set annually by the State Legislature. So, basically, the boss will tell you how much you are permitted to ask for.

No collective bargaining over insurance (so employees can be given high deductible junk insurance with no say in the matter), benefits, pensions, holidays or personal days, vacation, working conditions, adequate staffing, class size, worker safety issues, mandatory overtime, shift selection, requests for days off, etc.

If that wasn't bad enough, union dues would no longer be collected through payroll deduction so the unions would have to collect the dues themselves member by member. On top of that, unions would need to recertify every year . This is the same process that is used when employees band together to form a union in the first place; a process already so onerous and difficult (therefore, profitable to the many union-busting firms across this country) that new unions and locals are rarely formed.

Think that's bad? The real hidden horror is that Scott Walker didn't stop with state employees, but extended the impact of the bill to all city, town, village, and county employee in the State of Wisconsin. That's the real reason that thousands of public employees are in Madison. It's why non-public employee unions are supporting us. It's why students, patients, and citizens in general have joined us.

I'm just a retired Milwaukee Country Registered Nurse. My voice doesn't count. Sometimes I wonder if all my activism counts. But my voice and my activism count today as I join with thousands of proud Wisconsinites to protest the rise of a Dictator.


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