Saturday, March 12, 2011

The War On Public Servants: Part IV

[The following is Part IV of a staff report presented to the WFSE Legislative & Political Action Committee on 3/11/11. Go to Part I. Go to Part II. Go to Part III.]

Make a Difference

Fight back against the corporate interests attacking your collective bargaining rights by making a donation to PEOPLE.

Stand with your sisters and brothers in Wisconsin by making a donation to AFSCME Wisconsin Council 11’s emergency response fund.

Support the campaign to recall eight Republican Senators who voted to take collective bargaining rights away from Wisconsin public servants.

Learn more about AFSCME's "Stand For Service" campaign.

Learn more about AFSCME's "Stop the Lies" campaign.

Lobby your Legislators. Work on a campaign. Vote. And get involved in the WFSE Legislative & Political Action program.

-- Dennis

The War On Public Servants: Part III

[The following is Part III of a staff report presented to the WFSE Legislative & Political Action Committee on 3/11/11. Go to Part I. Go to Part II.]

Washington State Response

Interview with Gov. Christine Gregoire on NPR (Feb 27):

“HANSEN: Budget deficits are the primary focus of many state legislatures across the country. Many governors are taking a get-tough approach with public employee unions. In your view, do you think the demands of labor unions are crippling state budgets?

Ms. GREGOIRE: No. Our labor unions didn't cause this budget crisis for us. They have sacrificed to help us solve it. I've just finished collectively bargaining with my unions and had an overwhelming confirmation of it by their vote. They contributed with a salary cut; they contributed by paying more in health care. They have stepped up and said we want to be a part of the solution. I did it by going to the table, respecting their collective bargaining rights and we got the job done.

HANSEN: Might these protests change the way some governors approach negotiations with their public employee unions?

Ms. GREGOIRE: You know, I don't think so. My fellow governors, like myself, understand the way to success is sitting at the table, respecting the collective bargaining rights of our unions - teachers among them - and asking for them to sacrifice. And when I did that, they stepped up and said it's tough on us, it's tough on our families but we didn't come to public service for money. We came to serve, we want to be part of the solution, we're willing to sacrifice.”

WA St Republican Party Blog (Feb 22):

“This Saturday, February 26th, thousands of Washington taxpayers will gather in Olympia to show their support of governor Scott Walker in his efforts to rein in the costs of state government.

We urge you to attend if you can. The rally will be held on the north steps of the Capitol building, starting at 11am.

Governor Walker has drawn the line in a battle that must be won to secure his state's financial future. The public employee unions and professional leftists have organized to defeat him, and he needs our support.

If you cannot attend the rally, I want to encourage you to show your support for Governor Walker, and become a fan of his on Facebook.

His courage is an example to us all, and the outcome in Wisconsin will determine to a large extent whether we can turn our country around. He must win so that we all will win, and enjoy a brighter more secure future.”

Bad Collective Bargaining Bills Introduced in 2011 Legislative Session

SB 5870: Rejecting the request for funds necessary to implement state collective bargaining agreements for the 2011-13 fiscal biennium; by Senators Zarelli, Tom, Baumgartner, Swecker, Stevens, Ericksen, Morton, Honeyford, Parlette and King

HB 1841/SB 5761: Addressing management and consolidation of state information technology; as introduced by request of Governor Gregoire [Note: The anti-collective bargaining provisions were removed by amendment]

SB 5345: Encouraging competition for collective bargaining agreements; by Senators Swecker, Honeyford, Ericksen, and Hewitt

SB 5347: Protecting the right to work; by Senators Swecker, Honeyford and Hewitt

SB 5349: Eliminating collective bargaining for state employees and certain other groups; by Senators Honeyford, Swecker, Morton and Hewitt

SB 5728: Concerning state collective bargaining and competitive contracting; by Senator Zarelli

HB 1374: Requiring state agencies to use private collection agencies; by Representatives Hurst, Dammeier, Finn, McCune, and Johnson

SB 5284: Requiring state agencies to use private collection agencies; by Senators Hobbs, Benton, Kastama, Tom, Litzow, Hatfield, Schoesler, Hill, Honeyford, and Holmquist Newbry

HB 1511: Promoting efficiency in the WA state ferry system through personnel and administrative reforms; by Representatives Clibborn, Armstrong, Angel, Kagi, Smith, Johnson, Van De Wege, Morris, Kristiansen, Schmick, Rodne, Condotta, Ahern, Warnick, and Ladenburg

SB 5405: Promoting efficiency in the WA state ferry system through personnel and administrative reforms; by Senators Haugen, King, Sheldon, Fain, Hargrove, Becker, Prentice, Shin and Tom

HB 1512: Concerning WA state ferry system personnel and projects; by Representatives Armstrong, Clibborn, Angel, Smith, Johnson, Van De Wege, Morris, Kristiansen, Schmick, Rodne, Condotta, Warnick, Ladenburg

HB 5408: Concerning WA state ferry system personnel and projects; by Senators King, Haugen, Becker, and Prentice

HB 1609: Regarding school employee workforce reductions and assignments; by Representatives Pettigrew, Dammeier, Carlyle, Dahlquist, Kagi, Finn, Anderson, Jinkins, Hunter and Eddy

SB 5399: Regarding school employee workforce reductions and assignments; by Senators Tom, Litzow, Hill, Hobbs, King, Hargrove, Sheldon and Shin

For bill information, go here. For contact information for members of the Legislature, go here.

Go to Part IV.

-- Dennis

The War On Public Servants: Part II

[The following is Part II of a staff report presented to the WFSE Legislative & Political Action Committee on 3/11/11. Go to Part I.]

What Is the Reaction?

USA Today/Gallup (Feb 21, adults nationwide): “Additionally, the new poll finds Americans opposed to their own state adopting a deficit-reduction proposal, like the one that has triggered a legislative standoff in Wisconsin, that eliminates some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the teachers' union. One-third of Americans say they would favor such a bill in their own state, while 61% would oppose it.”

New York Times/CBS News (Feb 24-27, adults nationwide): “Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.

Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits, breaking down along similar party lines. A majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed both cuts in pay or benefits and taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.”

Pew Research Center (Feb 24-27, adults nationwide): “Democrats overwhelmingly side with the government employee unions in the ongoing dispute in Wisconsin. Two- thirds (67%) say this, compared with just 12% who say they side more with the governor. About half of Republicans (53%) say they side more with Gov. Walker; 17% say they side more with the public employee unions. Independents are evenly divided (39% side more with the unions, 34% more with the governor).

Among those ages 18 to 29, nearly half (46%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 13% say they side with the governor. Among those 65 and older, the balance is reversed – but the gap more narrow (45% say they side more with the governor, 33% with the unions).

While whites are nearly evenly divided (38% unions, 36% governor), non-white people are much more likely to say they side more with the unions that represent public employee workers (51% vs. 19%).

And while those with household incomes of $75,000 or more are divided (36% side more with the unions, 40% with the governor), those earning less clearly side more with the government employee unions. Among those with family income of less than $30,000, 46% say they side more with the unions, while 20% say they side more with the governor.”

Public Policy Polling (Feb 24-27, Wisconsin voters): “…[If voters in Wisconsin] could do it over today they'd support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin.

The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households. Voters who are not part of union households have barely shifted at all- they report having voted for Walker by 7 points last fall and they still say they would vote for Walker by a 4 point margin. But in households where there is a union member voters now say they'd go for Barrett by a 31 point margin, up quite a bit from the 14 point advantage they report having given him in November.

It's actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again. That's an instance of Republican union voters who might have voted for the GOP based on social issues or something else last fall trending back toward Democrats because they're putting pocketbook concerns back at the forefront and see their party as at odds with them on those because of what's happened in the last month.”

Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (Feb 27-Mar 1, Wisconsin adults): “Walker has proposed limiting collective bargaining to wages. Exactly half of the respondents (50 percent) say that public employees are willing to compromise on pensions and benefits but limiting bargaining rights does nothing to balance the state’s budget situation and is really just an attempt to get rid of public employee unions. Forty-three percent say the proposed changes are a necessary reform because they will give local governments greater flexibility to control their budgets over several years.

There is real opposition to Governor Walker's proposal to restrict the collective bargaining rights of workers, but the intensity depends on how the question is worded. When the issue is framed as limiting bargaining rights to help local governments, 47 percent are in favor and 50 percent are opposed. When the issue is framed as eliminating bargaining rights to ultimately dismantle public employee unions, then the public overwhelmingly disapproves, with 32 in favor and 58 percent opposed."

Rasmussen Reports (Mar 2, likely Wisconsin voters): “Scott Walker won his job last November with 52% of the vote, but his popularity has slipped since then. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters finds that just 34% Strongly Approve of the job he is doing, while 48% Strongly Disapprove. Overall, including those who somewhat approve or disapprove, the new Republican governor earns positive reviews from 43% and negative reviews from 57% of voters statewide.

In addition to the usual partisan and demographic breakdowns, it’s interesting to note that Walker, now engaged in a budget battle with unionized state workers, receives a total approval rating of 46% from households with private sector union members. However, among households with a public sector union member, only 19% offer their approval. Among all other households in the state, opinion is nearly evenly divided—49% favorable and 51% unfavorable.

It’s also interesting to note that among households with children in the public school system, only 32% approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who Strongly Disapprove."

Bloomberg National Poll (Mar 4-7, adults nationwide): "Do you think public employees should or should not have the right to collectively bargain for wages? [Should = 64%, Should Not = 32%]

With states facing budget crunches, several Republican governors across the country are trying to scale back benefits for state workers. Which of the following positions comes closest to your view? Public employees enjoy generous benefits that cash-strapped states can ill afford, and they should be willing to sacrifice to help states avoid a budget crisis. Governors are unfairly targeting public employee unions, and should not seek to balance their budgets by taking away benefits promised to state workers. [Should sacrifice to help states = 46%, Unions are unfairly targeted = 49%]

Go to Part III.

-- Dennis

The War On Public Servants: Part I

[The following is Part I of a staff report presented to the WFSE Legislative & Political Action Committee on 3/11/11.]

What Is the Latest In Wisconsin?

“Gov. Scott Walker signed his bill Friday repealing most collective bargaining by public employee unions, dealing a blow to the labor movement that turned out massive demonstrations in an effort to kill the proposal…

In addition to ending most collective bargaining closing part of the budget gap, the wide-ranging measure would require public employees to pay more for pensions and health insurance, give Walker broad authority over health care programs for the poor and turn 37 civil service jobs into political appointments. But unlike an earlier version, the bill passed by the Assembly wouldn't authorize the sale of state power plants or a $165 million refinancing of state debt.” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mar 11)

Elsewhere Around the Nation

AFSCME reports legislation taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is almost certain to pass in Ohio. Collective bargaining attacks also have a good chance of passage in Florida and Michigan. Other states where anti-collective bargaining bills have been introduced and/or considered include Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.

Right to work legislation has been introduced in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia.

[Note: Keep up with the latest developments at the AFSCME Green Line Blog.]

Who Is Behind the Attacks?

“State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts.

Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.” (New York Times, Feb 21)

“The Americans for Prosperity group, a Tea Party group that is a Koch Brothers front, has put up a website and petition called The website attacks all collective bargaining – not just for public employees’ unions. Americans for Prosperity is also organizing a rally tomorrow in Wisconsin to support Gov. Walker.

Why are the Koch Brothers so interested in Wisconsin? They are a major business player in the state.” (Rick Ungar,, Feb 24)

“That Gov. Scott Walker got hoodwinked on Tuesday was good for a laugh. A blogger from Buffalo, N.Y., with a reputation for outrageous and sometimes offensive commentary, impersonated billionaire tea party contributor David Koch and conned the governor into 20 minutes of unvarnished commentary.

What wasn't funny was the revealing peek the incident provided behind the veil of the Walker administration.” (Editorial, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb 24)

[Note: Audio and a transcript of this now infamous phone call can be found here.]

Finally, a wealth of additional information can be found in a report from Campaign For America’s Future: “Discover the Network Out to Crush Public Workers." To dig a little deeper, check out this Think Progress article, "The Kochs Versus Main Street."

Go to Part II.

-- Dennis

Monday, March 7, 2011

Labor Ads Go On the Attack In Wisconsin

From Greg Sargent's Plum Line Blog in the Washington Post:

"Unions are going up with a hard-hitting new ad in Wisconsin, a labor source says, that takes direct aim for the first time at Republican state senators who continue to stand by Governor Walker, even as he sinks in the polls and the unpopularity of his budget repair proposal continues to mount.

The ad, which is paid for by the labor-backed group Greater Wisconsin, is backed by a 'significant' buy, the source tells me. The ad is a clear sign that unions will continue ramping up activity even as news reports indicate some senate Republicans may be wavering in their support for Walker.

'Governor Walker's budget is devastating, and so are state senators who blindly follow him,' the ad intones. 'Tell your state senator to stop selling out the middle class, and stop the Walker budget.'

The ad focuses on the impact Walker's budget cuts would have on Wisconsin communities, rather than on the battle over bargaining rights, which reflects a sense among Walker opponents that the budget itself offers an opportunity to broaden the case against the governor and to continue driving up his negatives.

The use of the phrase 'Walker budget' reflects the Governor's mounting unpopularity in the state. A Rasmussen poll yesterday found that his disapproval rating has jumped to 57 percent among likely Wisconsin voters. With the drive to recall Republican senators picking up some steam, the ad is meant to put them on notice that sticking by Walker will ensure that they sink right along with him."

-- Dennis

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Message From AFSCME President McEntee

Dear AFSCME Sisters and Brothers,

There are new developments in Ohio and Wisconsin that we want to share with you. As you know, what happens in the coming weeks and months in Columbus and Madison will be critical to the future of our union, our jobs, and the services that we provide everywhere.

In Ohio yesterday, after more than 20,000 Ohioans rallied on Tuesday to save the middle class, the State Senate passed SB 5 — a bill that will strip workers of their rights. It was politics at its worst: Republican leaders rammed this bill through by kicking opposing members of their own party off of key committees.

And in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker's devastating new budget proposal has revealed just how out of touch he is with Wisconsin values. He and Republican state senators still refuse to listen to the outpouring of support for workers' right to bargain.

Just yesterday, citizens from around Wisconsin filed recall papers against key Republican senators who have stood with Walker in refusing workers' concessions and are trying to push through his partisan power grab: this is not what the candidates ran on, and not what Wisconsinites voted for. If you support the grassroots recall drive, you can show your support here.

It's clear that we've got a long fight ahead of us to protect Wisconsin's working families. But we're ready for it: even when collective bargaining was taken away in Missouri and Kentucky, we fought and got our rights back.

Anti-worker legislation has also moved forward in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Florida, Georgia and other states; in each case, your fellow members are mobilizing a stiff resistance campaign. If you haven't already, please add your name to our solidarity petition — and if you want to take your support to the next level, make a donation to AFSCME PEOPLE right now.

Public opinion is firmly on the side of the workers. According to four national polls, a majority of Americans oppose Governor Walker's efforts to strip workers of their collective bargaining rights.

In the past two weeks we have been on the ground in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and elsewhere. The energy of the crowds and the determination of the people are profoundly moving and give us great hope. Please join us in the effort at:

In solidarity,