In the two years since Governor Scott Walker was elected to lead Wisconsin, the state has gone from 11th in job creation nationwide to 44th. Walker’s administration has been nothing short of controversial thus far, and yet, he and others still somehow believe that he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the state.
Walker, who was elected in the massive Tea Party wave in 2010, has seen himself as a modern-day Ronald Reagan when it comes to his treatment of the workers in his state. He cut collective bargaining for public employees and his policies cut their pay as well. He’s cut taxes by quite a bit in the state too, which, going by conservative logic, should make companies flock to the state and create a booming jobs market. So why are they 44th instead of 11th, or even higher?
“The first year we had a lot of protests in the state. We had two years’, almost, worth of recalls. A lot of employers here I think can relate to the fact (that) uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges for employers big or small or anywhere in between. There was a lot of uncertainty. The good news is that’s passed.”
Others disagree, saying that the cut to workers’ pay was a major blow to the state’s economy overall, and that the drop in job growth coincides so neatly with Walker’s time in office that there’s no way it’s a coincidence.
Walker’s “Budget-Repair” bill to get rid of collective bargaining rights for the state’s public employees was passed in March 2011, and drew an immediate backlash from labor unions and many of the state’s Democrats, and sparked protests in Madison and all across the country. The cries for recalls came on the heels of the bill’s passage, along with lawsuits.
Walker and other Republicans in the state claimed that the savings realized by taking away collective bargaining would help to significantly reduce Wisconsin’s budget shortfall. Public sector employees didn’t pay into their pensions at all and also paid less than 7% of their annual income to their health insurance premiums. Under the bill, these workers would start paying 5.8% of their pay to their pensions, and over 12% to their insurance premiums.
According to Ezra Klein of The Washington Post, killing collective bargaining rights the way Walker intends essentially makes it so the unions can no longer deliver on their promises to members, and, since workers have to vote on the union’s very existence every year, eventually they’ll give in to pressure from their employers and the vote to certify will fail one year. So the unions will be gone at some point, should this law stay in force.
However, the law exempted public safety officers, such as firemen, state troopers and local police, along with inspectors. These employees got to keep all of their collective bargaining rights. They also have some of the highest salary-benefits packages among public employees in Wisconsin, and they were far more supportive of Walker during the 2010 election cycle than other unions, such as the teachers’ unions.
So these workers can still bargain for better working conditions, better benefits, and more, whereas everyone else in Wisconsin’s public sector can only bargain for wages. Walker said that this was to make public safety officers less likely to go on strike in protest of the law, however, there is too much about it that is coincidental considering these unions’ support of his election.
Walker is hailed as a type of hero among conservatives, according to The National Journal. The reason for this is, they say, because to every major donor to the Republican Party, he’s done what needs to be done. Forget everyone else. Walker is the epitome of partisan politics, and very consistent with the general conservative movement in blaming the little guy for his jurisdiction’s ills.