Saturday, March 12, 2011

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

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