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Public Workers Protest in Madison
February 17, 2011 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Protests have erupted in Madison, Wisconsin where the Republican-controlled state legislature seems poised to pass a bill championed by the newly elected Governor Scott Walker that would strip collective bargaining rights (that is, unions) from public employees in order to combat the state's 137 million dollar budget deficit.

The exact size of the protests is still up for debate. The Wall Street Journal says around 10,000, numbers from people in the crowd on twitter have pegged it at closer to three times that. Wednesday night, hundreds of people, mostly university students, slept in the rotunda of the capitol building after refusing to leave. Some Madison schools are closed for the second day in a row due to large-scale sickouts organized by teachers.

Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, believes that the bill will pass in its current form sometime Thursday, but if it does not, up to 6000 state employees could lose their jobs.

The large scale protests, currently in their third day, finally started to appear on the national radar sometime Wednesday night.
posted by GameDesignerBen (803 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously.
posted by blucevalo at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2011


Previously?
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2011




Ah, you beat me to it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2011


Yes, but it's only class warfare when the non-rich are doing it.
posted by DU at 9:34 AM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


This post is flawed--nothing here about the Nat'l Guard posed to bust union craniums.
posted by found missing at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I sincerely hope that there's a general strike if this passes. Or preferably before then.


Why are we projecting 6000 jobs lost if the bill doesn't pass? Where does that figure come from? I don't see it in the articles, but I haven't read them in great depth yet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2011


Previously. (Why so regressive, Walker?)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2011




Democratic state senators have apparently walked out, depriving the body of a quorum.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:39 AM on February 17, 2011



We can't rescind wall street bonuses, because they were part of previously agreed-on contracts!

We can break previously agreed-on union contracts, because everyone's got to share the pain, right?
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:41 AM on February 17, 2011 [186 favorites]


> We can break previously agreed-on union contracts, because everyone's got to share the pain, right?

No no, austerity measures are to be imposed only on those who already are facing austerity!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 AM on February 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


We can't rescind wall street bonuses, because they were part of previously agreed-on contracts!

We can break previously agreed-on union contracts, because everyone's got to share the pain, right?
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:41 PM on February 17 [2 favorites +] [!]


What he's trying to do would not technically break any contracts. In public sector bargaining, the government has a law which says what subjects are open to collective bargaining and what subjects are not. Asshole wants to narrow that list.

Such bullshit.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Race to the bottom. Blame the unions and organized labor. It is disgusting that the promises made to the employees cannot be carried out due to the mismanagement of government funds.

Yet we cannot impose higher taxes on the wealthy because they will just pick up and leave, taking all those jobs they provide. /sarcasm
posted by handbanana at 9:49 AM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


There was a news article explaining how WI could more than compensate for the debt if they collected on taxes they were already owed -- does anyone have that handy?
posted by boo_radley at 9:50 AM on February 17, 2011


Don't the tea party stereotype homeschool anyway ?
posted by k5.user at 9:53 AM on February 17, 2011


Good luck to all those protesting in Madison. How I wish I could be there (and some of my friends are actually there).

And this all reminds me how, in the early '90's some classmates of mine in college were bemoaning the lack of the 'activist spirit', and what it would take to 'rise up' the people again, especially locally. That college? UW - Madison.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:54 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's about damn time we acted like Americans again.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 AM on February 17, 2011 [73 favorites]


On second thought:

"It's about damn time we acted like Americans a democracy again."
posted by saulgoodman at 9:56 AM on February 17, 2011 [17 favorites]


Organized labor? What has it ever done for us?

You know... aside from the 40 hour work week, weekends, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, workplace safety laws, and other things which the typical non-union American worker takes for granted.

But despite all that... BOO! Down with labor! Assimilate into the corporate overlord and bend only to his whims. That way lies progress for all!
posted by hippybear at 9:57 AM on February 17, 2011 [31 favorites]


Or, "like beings with spinal columns again."
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 AM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]




You know... aside from the 40 hour work week, weekends, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, workplace safety laws, and other things which the typical non-union American worker takes for granted.


Those things are all expensive, and apparently America will be better off without them.

...and I guess cutting them might bring the factory work back. As long as you don't mind working in what were previously third world conditions.

Anyway. Time for a general strike. Sort this shit out.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:00 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


My experience in having been involved in a number of strikes is that the National Labor Board is more pro-management than they were or are meant to be. Let us hope that Obama and the Dems change this.

In the early days of unions, management was viewed as the right thing for capitalism, and the big money guys, did what they wanted as they saw fit. Then labor organized. Got clobbered a number of times. Prevailed. Then the general public turned against unions--golly, we can all be management and make lots of money--and membership dropped to today's low level of membership. Then Corporations outsourced jobs and work, brought in automation, and America became a non-manufacturing nation.

But there was the public workers...and in bad economic times in private sector, many people wrongly accused the public workers and their unions of being seriously overpaid etc.

Here is one simple fact: The average American worker today makes 400 dollars more than he did 20 years ago.

In strikes, where the public is affected--schools for example--the workers will be blames because Americans no longer have a shared sense of class interests and "brotherhood" connection. It is this that screws the union people. It is this that allows the income gap to widen year after year. It is this, finally, that perhaps might bring to our shores what is now taking place in the Arab nations, where economics and unemployment and demogrphics are as important as is who is running the country.
posted by Postroad at 10:01 AM on February 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm so proud of my state senator. Now it's time for him to get out of the state.
posted by drezdn at 10:01 AM on February 17, 2011


As a public sector employee, this really scares me. The previous post with it's National Guard troops poised to bust heads seemed pretty alarmist, but on closer inspection this is going to be the blueprint for all the other states. Including my neighbor, NJ, where Chris Christie is closely watching and rubbing his pudgy hands.
posted by fixedgear at 10:02 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


boo_radley: "There was a news article explaining how WI could more than compensate for the debt if they collected on taxes they were already owed -- does anyone have that handy?"

Found it.
posted by boo_radley at 10:02 AM on February 17, 2011


Only a 137 million deficit? That's peanuts. They are selling out the unions for that?
posted by Catblack at 10:02 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Catblack, and the Gov. is rejecting billions of dollars of Federal funds to try to make the problem worse.
posted by drezdn at 10:04 AM on February 17, 2011


^ No, they're using it as an excuse to sell out the unions. Seems to me the purpose of this exercise is not to balance the budget, but to take away workers' rights.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]



I said it in the other thread, and I'll say it again here.

We're in this mess because the (WI) Democrats are feckless idiots.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


where Chris Christie is closely watching and rubbing his pudgy hands.

Cause, you know, the fact that his hands are pudgy matters and talking about it worked so well for Corzine.
posted by Jahaza at 10:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


> the workers will be blames because Americans no longer have a shared sense of class interests and "brotherhood" connection.

See also: relentless propaganda about cars and electronics being more expensive to manufacture solely because of greedy unions, people like Rush Limbaugh selling the idea to middle class drones that they should espouse billionaire robber baron values because this is America and everyone might become super rich one day
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's some rumbling going around that it's actually a $3 billion deficit, but I haven't seen anything to back that up aside from the number being thrown around as a reason why the public sector cuts are so necessary: Everyone is going to have to pay! Except I have this feeling the only ones who get to pay are the unions.

There was also some rumbling that the 2009-2011 biennium budget _was_ balanced before Walker came to office and started giving away money, and now that he needs to make up 137 million, he's going after the unions. Yay?
posted by Kyol at 10:06 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can we go after the banks next? I wish someone in our government would be dumb enough to shut down the internet, so more people would actually take to the street.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:06 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's an article that suggests that the budget problem is entirely of Walker's making.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


kiltedtaco: "We can't rescind wall street bonuses, because they were part of previously agreed-on contracts!

We can break previously agreed-on union contracts, because everyone's got to share the pain, right?
"

Hear Hear
posted by NiteMayr at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know who else was from Wisconsin and hated unions...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!), work 20-25 hours a week teaching 3 classes, and have their summers off (and a one-month break at Christmas!). As for who should pay these salaries--that's easy, tax other people and make them pay for it.
posted by stevenstevo at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, Straw College Professors do, sure....
posted by Kyol at 10:09 AM on February 17, 2011 [99 favorites]


stevenstevo: I don't think the majority of college professors are pulling those kinds of salaries or working those hours.
posted by girih knot at 10:09 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Fiscal Bureau of Wisconsin just said in January that it will end this year with a $123 million surplus. So the fact of the matter is that this is not being done because of a lack of money. This is being done because political forces, conservative political forces, would like to disempower public employee unions and remove that voice for a strong public sector. That’s what austerity really translates as.
--John Nichols speaking on Democracy Now! this Tuesday.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:09 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!), work 20-25 hours a week teaching 3 classes, and have their summers off (and a one-month break at Christmas!). As for who should pay these salaries--that's easy, tax other people and make them pay for it.

[Citation Needed]
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:10 AM on February 17, 2011 [31 favorites]




stevenstevo: I don't think the majority of college professors are pulling those kinds of salaries or working those hours.


Can we quote some AskMeFi threads where desperate phd students ask how the hell they're going to pay the bills?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:10 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the interest of full disclosure, I favorited stevenstevo's comment because it made me laugh so hard.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:11 AM on February 17, 2011 [29 favorites]


What does it mean to be "on tenure"?
posted by found missing at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011


Jahaza: "where Chris Christie is closely watching and rubbing his pudgy hands.

Cause, you know, the fact that his hands are pudgy matters and talking about it worked so well for Corzine.
"

Does he NOT have pudgy hands or are you mistaking an insult on the blue for actual political maneuvering?

No doubt there is some hand wringing or rubbing or perhaps wrist stroking?

It's no wonder things are bad when screwing over large numbers of your fellow citizens is a means to score points in a political race, "what? By his actions fully birthed and grown babies will be put on the street and forced to compete for food and shelter? As long as they aren't in the womb I'm all for it!"
posted by NiteMayr at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011


stevenstevo, the return of Steve at Linnwood?
posted by drezdn at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for pulling in that previous post about the National Guard troops. The tags on that article are all compound words that didn't show up when I searched.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011


College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!),

First that's absolute bullshit, as many public universities cap even tenured professor salaries at lower levels (one we just read about here on MeFi recently caps them at $75,000.00.

But that doesn't matter, because you're entire argument is based on unthinking acceptance of the dishonest premises of those who oppose organized labor but have no qualms about supporting organized capital.

Raised standards of living for all workers can only be achieved by raising the standards of living for all workers and keeping it that way, not by pitting worker against worker in a mad race to the bottom.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011 [33 favorites]


stevenstevo: College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!), work 20-25 hours a week teaching 3 classes, and have their summers off (and a one-month break at Christmas!). As for who should pay these salaries--that's easy, tax other people and make them pay for it.

Oh, man, you have NO idea what it means to be a professor. All of the professors I know work 60+ hours a week and usually spend half of their time at home writing papers and doing research. They work more than anyone else I've ever known.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011 [20 favorites]


College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!), work 20-25 hours a week teaching 3 classes, and have their summers off (and a one-month break at Christmas!).

Yeah, and hours spent outside the classroom, doing this like grading, writing new syllabi and research don't count.
posted by ob at 10:13 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


"things"
posted by ob at 10:13 AM on February 17, 2011


Also, yeah where did you get the $120,000 p.a. figure from?
posted by ob at 10:14 AM on February 17, 2011


Only a 137 million deficit? That's peanuts. They are selling out the unions for that?

No, they're selling out the unions to bust the unions. The deficit is, at best, a fig leaf. Also, my once proud state has gone completely Gompers. I only hope the passes and we'll La Fallote when we look back at our mistakes.
posted by stet at 10:14 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kyol: The $3 billion deficit is for the next fiscal year, not the fiscal year the budget repair bill is attempting to address (FY2010). The $3 billion figure depends on absolute-worst-case financial projections.

stevenstevo: No one has argued that professors have those "Constitutional rights". You may have some consolation in that UW professors are actually net earners for their universities via grants.

Burhanistan: The $123 million figure is the revenue surplus prior to taking out certain mandatory items per balanced budget requirements. The true surplus is lower, estimated at $54 million.
posted by Jpfed at 10:14 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wisconsin public employees have already given up a lot, but the budget "repair" bill would take away their rights to even discuss what to give up.
posted by drezdn at 10:14 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The protest is the largest I've ever seen on the square.
posted by Jpfed at 10:16 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any live feed cameras or live coverage links?
posted by cashman at 10:18 AM on February 17, 2011


I'm kinda surprised they let the protest into the State Capitol building.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:21 AM on February 17, 2011


College professors have the Constitutional right to earn $120,000 a year (while on tenure!), work 20-25 hours a week teaching 3 classes, and have their summers off (and a one-month break at Christmas!). As for who should pay these salaries--that's easy, tax other people and make them pay for it.
Son, if you believe that this is actually representative of the life of a college professor, then I look forward to living in your version of the world. Most professors make nothing close to that level of money. Also, most professors never get a teaching load that light. "Christmas off" means grading, writing letters of rec for students, and conferences. "Summers off" means developing classes, writing publications, mentoring students, and managing the university through campus service- it's basically like the rest of the year, but without pay. Also, it is difficult to talk about how many hours a week we work, because we never stop working. I go to bed thinking of lectures, I wake up thinking about students.
Stop living in some fantasy land where your self-pity and aggression are justified because someone has it so much easier than you do. As for me, time to get off metafilter before I lose my job and my mind.
posted by pickypicky at 10:21 AM on February 17, 2011 [63 favorites]


The worst thing I can possibly wish on Republican voters is that they actually get the country they apparently want.
posted by Legomancer at 10:21 AM on February 17, 2011 [62 favorites]


Live twittery link or follow #killthebill on Twitter.
posted by drezdn at 10:22 AM on February 17, 2011


Apparently the Democrats have walked out depriving the senate of a quorum.

Maybe they found some spare testicles in a closet somewhere.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:23 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's so nice to see an honest to God protest that can't be dismissed as college hippies.

"Is that Bettie from fiscal next to the guy in dreads?!"
posted by Think_Long at 10:24 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


An open letter to the people of Wisconsin written by a group of concerned Academic Staff members at UW-Milwaukee
posted by Maaik at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think there's a live feed of some sort on WORT-FM.

Thank God for Internet Radio.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe they found some spare testicles in a closet somewhere.

Because, they're like women.
posted by found missing at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


For reference the population of Wisconsin is 5.6 million. To make up a budget deficit of $137 million is about $25 a person. Approx 3 million are employed, which brings that up to about $46 per person. If we give an average yearly income of $40,000 then you could make all the money up with at .12% tax increase.

Combine that with some reasonable attempts at budget cutting and you might not have your capital building flooded with the civil servants who keep things moving.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:26 AM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Because, they're like women.

More like jellyfish.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:26 AM on February 17, 2011


Can we stop feeding the professorial-salary troll and get back to calling for Walker's head? Because the latter is a) more fun and b) more likely to bring about real change.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on February 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


The worst thing the masses ever did was start referring to themselves and thinking of themselves as "taxpayers".
posted by rocket88 at 10:28 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The worst thing I can possibly wish on Republican voters is that they actually get the country they apparently want.

And I'd be willing to let them have it too if I didn't have to live in it with them.
posted by VTX at 10:30 AM on February 17, 2011 [24 favorites]


Good luck, WI. Stay strong. With a little luck, your bravery in the struggle will discourage others from trying this same shit in other places.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:32 AM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know how to solve Walker's budget problem - decrease the tax rates to 0%, and by the power of Zombie Reagan the budgets will be balanced!

...whaddya mean that's not how it works hey stop shoving ow
posted by Kyol at 10:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


New York Rally
posted by drezdn at 10:38 AM on February 17, 2011


Sums up the situation.
posted by drezdn at 10:40 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the more depressing things to come out as a result of this is how many of my friends have swallowed the anti-union bias hook line and sinker. I mean, a few of them have posted this link from the MacIver institute: Average MPS Teacher Compensation Tops $100k/year

Which, y'know, that's nice that you got that FOIA-granted information. I wish I could respond to it, but to be honest I have no idea what my total compensation is. My employer goes out of their way to avoid telling me how much they pay for my insurance. As it stands it's just a shocking number devoid of context.
posted by Kyol at 10:42 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway. Time for a general strike. Sort this shit out.

Relevant Fight Song from north of 49.
posted by philip-random at 10:43 AM on February 17, 2011


As it stands it's just a shocking number devoid of context.

It's a conservative talking-point, of course it's devoid of context. They're conservatives; everything they do is devoid of context, that's the whole point of their rhetorical strategy!
posted by aramaic at 10:45 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


(add scare quotes as necessary - I don't feel that $56k/year as an average take home pay is really astronomical, and I'm surprised that the balance is $43k in benefits, but it's kind of context free, y'know?)
posted by Kyol at 10:45 AM on February 17, 2011


Some of the nicest people I have had the chance to meet in my life have been public workers for the state of WI. As a non-usian, I can write these coherent sentences thanks to them. My solidarity and best wishes. May your protests come to fruition.
posted by elmono at 10:45 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


If this blogger is accurate, it was the firefighters who led the protestors into the Capitol building.
posted by wuwei at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite Sham 69 Fight Song.
posted by drezdn at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm kinda surprised they let the protest into the State Capitol building.

It's a public building, and it's right in the middle of downtown. I cut through it all the time when I'm walking from one corner of the square to the opposite one. It's almost never closed, and this is how it should be. Free Speech Zones my ass.
posted by echo target at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I know that America's economy has tanked, but 100k in pay and benefits for a teacher or professor sounds totally reasonable to me. I don't think that's asking too much at all.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


"There aren't enough auditors to enforce the tax code," said Bryan Kennedy, president of the American Federation of Teachers union in Wisconsin, which represents 763 workers at the Revenue Department.

Sounds like the solution to the money woes is employing more union workers, not fewer.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just once I'd really like a kneejerk anti-union troll to explain to me exactly what their methodology is for determining what any particular job is "supposed" to pay.

I imagine it comes down to "more than me."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Average MPS Teacher Compensation Tops $100k/year

Yeah, as Kyol says, the average salary is $56k a year.
posted by cashman at 10:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes, the MacIver Institute. Founded expressly to promote "free markets, individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government."

Yes, I'm sure they are a reliable source for any information involving labor disputes.
posted by hippybear at 10:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fuck. It's getting Victorian all over again. Did the Socialists fight in vain?
posted by dunkadunc at 10:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


(add scare quotes as necessary - I don't feel that $56k/year as an average take home pay is really astronomical, and I'm surprised that the balance is $43k in benefits, but it's kind of context free, y'know?)

43 grand A PERSON for benefits?

Can we have Universal Medicare yet? I think I just found out how to fund it without changing anything. Take that "health care" line item and just make it a tax instead of sending it to a health insurer.
posted by mikelieman at 10:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]



(add scare quotes as necessary - I don't feel that $56k/year as an average take home pay is really astronomical, and I'm surprised that the balance is $43k in benefits, but it's kind of context free, y'know?)


$56k is for a teacher with a master's degree and 10+ years of experience.
posted by drezdn at 10:49 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


43 grand A PERSON for benefits?

Lets see it line by line and find out just how that is calculated. The 56k figure came from this school board video from that link.
posted by cashman at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2011


$56k is for a teacher with a master's degree and 10+ years of experience.

Maybe there's a link to that school board video in its entirety (for context).
posted by cashman at 10:51 AM on February 17, 2011




> One of the more depressing things to come out as a result of this is how many of my friends have swallowed the anti-union bias hook line and sinker.

I got into this with someone at a MeFi meetup once. Can't remember how we got to be talking about it, but she was convinced unions caused the financial/bank crisis; union members get paid too much, companies suffer and go out of business or move their operations out of the country, tax revenues go down, unemployment goes up = banks run out of money and everyone is sad. Or something.

When I presented my counterarguments she listened for a little while and said "Let me guess, you work for a union," as though the fact of my union membership settled the issue.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:51 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aside from the salary:benefits ratio, what's hilarious is that the McIver Institute seems to be arguing that teachers should not be paid well for, you know, giving children the tools they need for success in life. Pfft, I shouldn't have to pay for that!
posted by dry white toast at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


From Wuwei's link:

But today, right at the end of the rally, one of them took the stand to speak. (I believe it was the president of IAFF Madison local 311, Joe Conway, but might be mistaken. If you can confirm who it was, post a comment!) “We didn’t intend to speak today,” he said, but this was “an emergency”. And who shows up in emergencies? “You do!” we bellowed back.

Right, the police and fire departments. The house behind him (the Capitol, of course) was burning down. And what do firefighters do at a burning house? “You go in!” we hollered.

“That’s right!” he agreed. “We go in! We go in first. So we’re going in now! We’ll lead you in there!”

And I kid you not, we went berserk.

And it was just at that moment that I heard the drums and bagpipes.

. . .

The crowds parted, and all the hundreds of firefighters in attendance followed that marching band right up King St, right up the Capitol steps, and right into the Capitol building. And the thousands of citizens in attendance lined up right behind them.

posted by Think_Long at 10:53 AM on February 17, 2011 [50 favorites]


This makes me kind of angry. Here's this governer who makes up problems so that he can "solve" them by taking away workers rights. Why?
posted by zennie at 10:54 AM on February 17, 2011


If I had to pick two categories of people who I would not mind seeing get paid a lot, it would probably be teachers and fire-fighters. Just saying.
posted by fartknocker at 10:54 AM on February 17, 2011 [18 favorites]




Yet we cannot impose higher taxes on the wealthy because they will just pick up and leave, taking all those jobs they provide.

Good! LET THEM.

Those jobs exist because there's a demand for whatever product/service being offered. That demand doesn't disappear just because the company does. So goodbye! Good riddance! The private market has abandoned us. Let the government provide the product/service instead. And don't give me that "we can't compete against the government" crap. These bastards want to play a game where they get to hold the ball 99% of the time with a blindfolded referee. We can do better.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


I would like the MacIver Institute to show their work, as MPS teachers just got a new (crappy) contract with them paying more for health care.
posted by drezdn at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2011


Kyol: "One of the more depressing things to come out as a result of this is how many of my friends have swallowed the anti-union bias hook line and sinker."

It makes me depressed when I think about how conservative this whole country is. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only real human left on earth while everyone else has turned into a zombie.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:56 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the more depressing things to come out as a result of this is how many of my friends have swallowed the anti-union bias hook line and sinker.

My last job was at a small tech startup. I have to say that the developers were, as a group, the most vocal anti-union, conservative group of people I've ever had be involved with. Just the mention of unions brought out all the tired trolling and talking-points. I suppose being the well-paid golden boys does that to you?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


And besides, the Repubs are trying to frame this as a money issue, but taking away the collective bargaining rights doesn't save them any money. Walker didn't even try negotiating, he's just dictating.
posted by drezdn at 10:57 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Between the Democratic senators and the firefighters and the protesters, I am really proud to be a cheesehead today.
posted by desjardins at 10:57 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Power to the people. (Senator Lena C. Taylor)

Another live cam.
posted by cashman at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2011


Sometimes I feel like I'm the only real human left on earth while everyone else has turned into a zombie.

The only facebook status posts I make any longer are designed to rile up all of the conservatives among my friends there. Good on the people in Madison, gives me hope.
posted by maxwelton at 10:59 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you see B-reel of crowds in Madison, and a high school kid holding a sign that says "The Only Good Walker is a Skywalker!"....that's my son.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:00 AM on February 17, 2011 [31 favorites]


Walker wants to hold his "non*" Budget address at an animal feed company. I'm hoping people greet him with "Let them eat pet food." signs.

*Can't legally be his budget address because that needs to be at the Capitol.
posted by drezdn at 11:00 AM on February 17, 2011




If I had to pick two categories of people who I would not mind seeing get paid a lot, it would probably be teachers and fire-fighters. Just saying.

Dude, if you think educating the young and risking your life putting out fires and saving lives is more valuable to a free country than trading collateralized debt obligations tied to securitized bundles of toxic subprime mortgages, then I wonder why you haven't put your pinko ass on a boat to Havana yet. There's truly something wrong in America's schools if kids today don't understand the value of the derivatives market. We should do something about that pronto.

(Also, Wisconsin Mefites, a query: If this protest goes over big, is there any chance Gov. Jackass will be overruled in his decision to abandon high-speed rail? Because that was one supersized heap of teh stoopid.)
posted by gompa at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2011 [41 favorites]


I'm not surprised when well-paid golden boys hate unions. I'm surprised when otherwise left-leaning or working class people hate unions. I thought a rising tide was supposed to lift all boats, but I guess that only works when the water is supplied by the private sector.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yet we cannot impose higher taxes on the wealthy because they will just pick up and leave, taking all those jobs they provide.

No they won't.
posted by scalefree at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


You go, Wisconsin workers! We Michigan public employees would be right there with you if we could (and we're probably next on the chopping block).
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If this protest goes over big, is there any chance Gov. Jackass will be overruled in his decision to abandon high-speed rail?

Sadly, the money has already been re-allocated. I hope California enjoys their train. Wish we had a nice one.
posted by drezdn at 11:03 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you see B-reel of crowds in Madison, and a high school kid holding a sign that says "The Only Good Walker is a Skywalker!"....that's my son.

thanotopsis, your son sounds awesome.

Hope something comes of this.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:03 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


For non-Wisconsin mefites, I'm pretty sure Walker has dreams of running for Pres. (His handlers definitely hope he does)... Let's stop him now.
posted by drezdn at 11:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised when otherwise left-leaning or working class people hate unions.

Certain working class members of my family feel that because they had it tough at some unspecified point in the past, everyone should have it equally as tough. There's no "rising tide" sentiment. It's a "fuck you, I got mine" sentiment. It's terrifying to see people pitted against each other like this.
posted by desjardins at 11:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [25 favorites]


Thorzdad: ". Just the mention of unions brought out all the tired trolling and talking-points. I suppose being the well-paid golden boys does that to you?"

Some people have no fucking courage.

Speaking of which: The Minutemen - Courage

(Bonus: This Ain't No Picnic)
posted by dunkadunc at 11:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Also, Wisconsin Mefites, a query: If this protest goes over big, is there any chance Gov. Jackass will be overruled in his decision to abandon high-speed rail? Because that was one supersized heap of teh stoopid.)

Only if there is a recall election and that can't happen for another year and would require ~500,000 signatures anyway.

The republicans are pretty popular in the hinterlands outside of any town with more than 10 stop(and go) lights. I doubt hes that worried about it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:09 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Power to the people.

But "the people" aren't synonymous with "groups of employees of the state" are they? I mean, "the people" might benefit from lower taxes obtained by paying the public sector workers less. They might not, of course: I don't know how tight the labor market in Wisconsin is, and how much they have to pay to attract the right employees.

I mean, if you think a strong union movement is part of the process to create a socialist future, yeah, sure, but aside from that, and generally liking unions as part of the progressive movement I'm not seeing exactly why we should support collective bargaining for public employees.

OK, so I guess this looks like trolling. Hmmm. You're going to say "But we should tax the rich more!" and yeah, probably you should. And "We bailed out the bankers!" and yeah, that makes me cross too, but on my side of the Pond my Labour government did the same, so I guess we had to. So back to this one issue: I don't see how I, as a citizen, or taxpayer, or user of public services, benefit from such a high rate of unionisation of public employees. I mean, they're my employees right? I want as much control over them as possible? Sacking the useless ones, paying the good ones more, changing terms and conditions according to service need, that sort of thing?

Again, if you're seeing strike action and unionization as part of a political process towards a more Socialist future, ownership of means of production and so on, then yeah, sure, this is good because they can form the vanguard of the working classes. And if you're thinking "the Republican guy is doing this because they HATE unions" then yeah, you're probably right.

But that aside, isn't this, and forgive me if this sounds offensive but I think its the correct terminology, the pleading of special interests?
posted by alasdair at 11:10 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yet we cannot impose higher taxes on the wealthy because they will just pick up and leave, taking all those jobs they provide.

What we need to do to fix social security and medicaid is eliminate the social security/medicare contribution cap.

It's not a fair, nor equal application of law to require those making millions to pay social security/medicare withholdings only on the first hundred thousand or so of their income, as is currently the policy.

In no other part of our tax system do we pretend that no one earns more than $100,000, yet for some reason, when it comes to the very safety net programs the wealthy complain about the most, the wealthy don't even pay a fair share on their full income. They get to pretend to be middle class when it comes to the SS and Medicare taxes they pay.

If the cap on income were eliminated and contributions to these programs were made according to a progressive payment scheme, not only would there be no "entitlement" crisis, but companies would have a counterbalancing disincentive to handing out obscenely top-heavy benefits packages to CEOs and their management teams.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:11 AM on February 17, 2011 [24 favorites]


Dem Senators flee Wisconsin so WI State Police have no jurisdiction.
posted by scalefree at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


But "the people" aren't synonymous with "groups of employees of the state" are they? I mean, "the people" might benefit from lower taxes obtained by paying the public sector workers less.

That's true - and in the past 5 years, wages have been stagnant and all state employees (even federally funded ones like me) have had a wage cut in the form of mandatory furlough days.

But eliminated collective bargaining is not a cost saving measure - its a union busting one. And with severe implications; WI is not a right to work state. If you work for a union shop, you must join the union. This measure is designed to drive the state to becoming a "right to work" state, effectively nullifying unions as any sort of political force.

This isn't very much about worker salaries, its about much larger issues.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:15 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Also, Wisconsin Mefites, a query: If this protest goes over big, is there any chance Gov. Jackass will be overruled in his decision to abandon high-speed rail? Because that was one supersized heap of teh stoopid.)

Not nearly as dumb as what Florida did. The project was basically a gift from the federal government, and private developers even offered to step in and shoulder most of the state's cost. A mind-bogglingly stupid decision and display of political grandstanding.
posted by schmod at 11:16 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised when otherwise left-leaning or working class people hate unions. I thought a rising tide was supposed to lift all boats, but I guess that only works when the water is supplied by the private sector.

The big successes of unions are generally a generation before current workers were born. Thus without even realizing it, it seems like the world has always had a weekend, and unions just make trouble.

Also, the very notion of a union is an assault on the ego - it marks you one of the "little people" - powerless and unable to stand up for himself, only by banding together with masses of other little people can such weaklings manage to scrabble together any success. And even though exactly the same could be said about the US military, it's still so much easier to believe that we are like the people we see on TV. Strong and independent.

I think a lot of union success has already been rolled back. Most people I know are either working crushing hours, or are unemployed. I get the impression that my parents think my generation has squandered and lost the rights they fought for, and while my generation is paying for this somewhat, but it;s the next generation that will truly suffer the consequences.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:17 AM on February 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


This entire conversation should just stop right now until stevenstevo comes back to provide counter-arguments and examples to support his monopolyman version of professorial life.
posted by spicynuts at 11:17 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not nearly as dumb as what Florida did. The project was basically a gift from the federal government, and private developers even offered to step in and shoulder most of the state's cost. A mind-bogglingly stupid decision and display of political grandstanding.

Whatever it takes to keep Obama down...
posted by mikelieman at 11:18 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm reading a few major right wing sites covering this and I have to say, it really does fascinate me how moments like this prove how utterly full of shit most of them are in every form of their rhetoric. Sorry if that comes of as hyperbolic but really, they just don't give a shit. It's always and only about getting what they want and pissing off liberals.

For an entire Congressional session, Republicans have filibustered every single bill, and now Democrats and Wisconsin are refusing to allow a quorum to likewise block a vote. For this, right-wingers suddenly feel the national guard should be authorized to force people to do something. Filibusters are the only precious thread holdding democracy together but what the Democrats are doing now should be punishable by jail time because shut up, that's why.

A statement, of course, which is in itself hilarious, as after three or so years of insisting that Barack Hussein Soetero McKenya Hitler Obama is an evil totalitarian who opposes the will of the people and is attempting to turn the country into a dictatorial authoritarian state, suddenly what would give every single reader of RedState.com a contact-your-doctor-its-been-over-four-hours hardon would be if the governor of Wisconsin was given absolute authority to fire half the state Senate and order the military to bring them before him in handcuffs.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:18 AM on February 17, 2011 [37 favorites]


Why is it every time I hear about something about the actions and decisions of a new Republican swinging dick, the only thought I ever have is "What the FUCK?!"
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is it just me, or is the idea that the majority party can send out the police to drag the opposition to the legislature by main force so that there will a quorum insane and terrifying? Is this normal? Do other states do this? What happens if the absent legislators put up a fight? Will they be arrested?
posted by enn at 11:21 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Finacial manager Robert Bobb already fucked up DPS union members and privatized my fathers job after 26 years of service claiming it would save some $30mil which of course it wont in the long run.
If our newly elected governor Snyder pulls this shit I would be up in Lansing showing solidarity and support for our teachers and state workers despite not being one.
The republicans here in the Great Lakes State would love a right to work setup, they can go fuck themselves as far as I am concerned.,,,,
posted by handbanana at 11:21 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you think a strong union movement is part of the process to create a socialist future, yeah, sure, but aside from that, and generally liking unions as part of the progressive movement I'm not seeing exactly why we should support collective bargaining for public employees.

The whole point of unions is "the more people we have on our team, the more the powers that be will take notice."

Today, it's not just "the more the powers that be will take notice" but also "the more the rest of the people in the country will take notice." In another thread someone was wondering "why aren't people up in arms and taking to the streets to kick up a fuss about what happened on Wall Street?" Well, that's the reason right there -- they haven't seen anyone else doing it, and they're afraid that they're the only ones who feel that way and they don't want to have their ass all alone on the line so they don't.

But if you have a union movement in Wisconsin, big enough for national media to look at, then...it may make the union in New Jersey say, "you know what...." and act themselves. And then Kansas' union says "hey, if Wisconsin and New Jersey are in on this, we can do it too" and then Arkansas comes in and says "us too" and then Vermont says "same here" and then Kermit comes out and leads all the Muppets in singing "Just One Person" and...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Dem Senators flee Wisconsin so WI State Police have no jurisdiction.

The Killer Bees, the sequel!
posted by notbuddha at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



Is it just me, or is the idea that the majority party can send out the police to drag the opposition to the legislature by main force so that there will a quorum insane and terrifying? Is this normal? Do other states do this? What happens if the absent legislators put up a fight? Will they be arrested?

It's a long standing rule
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2011


If the senators need someplace to sleep, I've got a futon.

So back to this one issue: I don't see how I, as a citizen, or taxpayer, or user of public services, benefit from such a high rate of unionisation of public employees. I mean, they're my employees right?

Because a) even if it isn't to my benefit, I like the idea of paying teachers a decent wage-should I ever have a child, I'd argue that it would be to my benefit to have well-paid teachers for them and b)as an employee, I generally support worker's rights and hope they become more of a norm instead of an anomoly, because I hope to have them one day.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:25 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The big successes of unions are generally a generation before current workers were born. Thus without even realizing it, it seems like the world has always had a weekend, and unions just make trouble.

It's kind of like "feminism"... which seems to always be demonized, despite being responsible for great strides in freedoms. The same freedoms that some notoriously vocal "anti-feminists" take advantage of to loudly decry they are not a feminist. And then even more heartbreaking those liberal/moderate young (and not so young) ladies do exactly the same thing.
posted by edgeways at 11:26 AM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Also, Wisconsin Mefites, a query: If this protest goes over big, is there any chance Gov. Jackass will be overruled in his decision to abandon high-speed rail? Because that was one supersized heap of teh stoopid.

No. That money has already been redistributed.

This stupid move was, at least, based on an election promise. If my fellow citizens voted for this moron despite (or even because) this promise then it's fine with me.

It's stupid but it's a fair stupid.

This union busting came out of left field and the people are not having it. If it passes there will be strikes. Take it to the bank.
posted by Bonzai at 11:26 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The big successes of unions are generally a generation before current workers were born. Thus without even realizing it, it seems like the world has always had a weekend, and unions just make trouble.

A conversation with a friend would bear this out. I'm in a Union (or, was -- I've retired from the given industry and haven't cancelled my membership yet), and the friend to whom I was speaking is the son of a Union guy. And he dismissed the Unions today as being largely political machines, where the people who make the decisions for the Union don't actually do any of the work that they're supposed to be representing.

When I mentioned my own Union membership -- in Actors' Equity -- and that it was comprised of active actors and Stage managers, and that Equity had gone to bat for me on two occasions -- my friend only said that theater folk "didn't produce any manufactured good", so it didn't count.

He's since apologized for his remarks. I personally do not feel the need to apologize for the invective I spewed towards him following THAT comment, however.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think that's asking too much at all.

Come now! By public assent, only the following are entitled to >$50,000 per annum:

-CEOs
-Elected officials (state legislature and up)
-The first to second cousins of the above
-The cousins' college roomies
-Surgeons
-Soldiers of fortune
-Subjects of Bravo reality shows
-People who have appeared in People
-The golden boys working on the Jenkins account
-Football coaches (Pop Warner and up)

Anyone not on the list should be content to do their jobs "for the love of it."
posted by Iridic at 11:27 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wisconsin casino revenues are on track to hit 26.4 billion FY 2011. The budget shortfall is $135 million, with a projected deficit of $2.6 billion. Why arent they looking there for some relief?

You would think with all those UW PhD's rending their garments about this, there would be a couple of PolySci and Econ sorts who could point out why this bill is bad/unnecessary, and offer a better solution.

I think what is getting lost in all the outrage and mob mentality, is that for the most part these are fairly well compensated people with full benefits and above average job security.. Given, there is a HUGE difference between a college professor, and the guy who has to crawl into a sewer in February and try to fix a pipe and any reassessment should take those things into consideration.

People who should NOT be affected are any fire/police/first responders. Anyone who is brave/nuts enough to run toward gunfire or into burning buildings should have their community and government at their back 100%.

In the end, I think a lot of this is just people pissed at a Tea Party governor, Republicans and TP types in general, and are channeling all that rage into the streets however misguidedly. They don't want to give an inch on their perks, and while you cant fault them too much, enough already.

Unions have obviosuly done great things in the past, but today are little more than cesspools of corruption and political clout. Their influence is a more a salable commodity to candidates than an agent of good for workers. They protect and reward lazy, incompetent employees, and consumers pay the price in the end.

I think it cheapens the plight of people who actually need representation, when a bunch of very well taken care of people suddenly feel put upon and take to the streets acting like they are in Tianammen Square. There is a reason why Woody Guthrie didn't write any folk songs about the plight of those with tenure.

The only difference these days between "collective bargaining" and a mob enforcer is that; the mob guy will kick your ass, take your money, and tell you its going to be even worse next time you see him, not wrap it in a flag and sing paens to democracy and his fellow man. He will also be wearing a nicer suit.
posted by timsteil at 11:29 AM on February 17, 2011


Unions have obviosuly done great things in the past, but today are little more than cesspools of corruption and political clout. Their influence is a more a salable commodity to candidates than an agent of good for workers. They protect and reward lazy, incompetent employees, and consumers pay the price in the end.

....Not my Union.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


But if you have a union movement in Wisconsin, big enough for national media to look at, then...it may make the union in New Jersey say, "you know what...." and act themselves. And then Kansas' union says "hey, if Wisconsin and New Jersey are in on this, we can do it too" and then Arkansas comes in and says "us too" and then Vermont says "same here" and then Kermit comes out and leads all the Muppets in singing "Just One Person" and...


I would like to be the first to dub this "The Tahrir Effect." You're welcome.
posted by emjaybee at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


So back to this one issue: I don't see how I, as a citizen, or taxpayer, or user of public services, benefit from such a high rate of unionisation of public employees. I mean, they're my employees right?

No, because they are the "you" in your construction, too. State employees are themselves also tax paying citizens, so they are also their own employees, if you're formulation means anything at all, though it really doesn't.

Economically, all jobs are connected. If you increase wages for any sector of the workforce, that creates positive pressure on wages generally as employers try to keep up. Not to mention it increases money in the economy that creates more revenue that other employers should be using to raise worker's wages. With all the union busting and union failures that have characterized the last couple of decades, we've seen wages stagnate, to the point that for the last few years, median incomes have actually been in decline for the middle class (though not for the top 1% and higher, who've seen massive rates of income growth over the same period). You can argue correlation isn't causation, but in this case, there's a pretty solid basis for imagining a link.

But as has already been pointed out several times in this thread, public workers in Wisconsin don't actually enjoy higher compensation than their private sector counterparts in the first place. So there's nothing valid to the argument at all.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


But that aside, isn't this, and forgive me if this sounds offensive but I think its the correct terminology, the pleading of special interests?

Sure, I can make an argument for you. They aren't just doing it for their own pay. They are doing it because horrendously long hours for teachers (for example) makes teaching worse. You have an interest in public services being delivered in a stable way, and making them a quick turnover, McJob environment doesn't do that. These are hard jobs, with large amounts of training, and people with experience lead to higher quality outcomes.

UK example/derail: You're from the UK, and so am I. The UK currently has awful retention stats for people entering the teaching profession, and they commonly say that this is due to overwork and stress. Do you think this is good for teaching?
posted by jaduncan at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


This union busting came out of left field and the people are not having it.

Actually, I think it came out of right field.
posted by nickmark at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


> Unions have obviosuly done great things in the past, but today are little more than cesspools of corruption and political clout.

You're right! It's a good thing we have corporations and lobbyists to look out for people these days.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:34 AM on February 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


I think what is getting lost in all the outrage and mob mentality, is that for the most part these are fairly well compensated people with full benefits and above average job security.. Given, there is a HUGE difference between a college professor, and the guy who has to crawl into a sewer in February and try to fix a pipe and any reassessment should take those things into consideration.

You are still missing the point. It isn't about the money. The money is a distraction.

It's about the unions vs. business.

It's a power grab. Pure and simple.
posted by Bonzai at 11:34 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: Hey can you hear the echo in here?
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:34 AM on February 17, 2011


enn:

... several Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives went to Oklahoma to prevent the House from establishing a quorum of members, thereby preventing the House from acting on any legislation, including a proposed redistricting plan. Although not a member of the Texas legislature, DeLay became involved, by contacting several federal agencies in order to determine the location of the missing legislators. DeLay's staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for assistance in tracking down a plane that one of the legislators was flying to Oklahoma, an action that the FAA believed to be a result of safety concerns about the aircraft. A review by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that a total of thirteen FAA employees spent more than eight hours searching for the airplane. Members of DeLay's staff asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest the missing Democrats. The FBI dismissed DeLay's and his staff's request as "wacko". DeLay also contacted United States Marshal and United States Attorney's offices in Texas, as well as the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center, an agency that deals with smuggling and terrorism.
posted by ofthestrait at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


People who should NOT be affected are any fire/police/first responders. Anyone who is brave/nuts enough to run toward gunfire or into burning buildings should have their community and government at their back 100%.

But hey, fuck the teachers, they're just educating the generation of people who are going to take care of you when you're old.
posted by desjardins at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2011 [33 favorites]


Actually, I think it came out of right field.

Whatever. The point is made.
posted by Bonzai at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2011


This is a huge deal, especially when you consider the other asshole Repub governors like Christie who are considering the same thing. I don't know why it's not getting really major coverage -- it looks like it's getting treated as local news on say, msnbc, where one guy poisoning trees is a huge story. This is a huge mistake. I really hope things work out in Wisconsin. I wish I could be there with you and I really hope it never happens anywhere else.

Main story on CNN: oyster comeback. I know this is an important issue to many, but worthy of that much more front-page coverage than fucking senators fleeing the state? I just cannot believe this! Democrats, let's start making some noise.
posted by theredpen at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dem Senators flee Wisconsin so WI State Police have no jurisdiction.

Okay, that is fucking rad.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a reason why Woody Guthrie didn't write any folk songs about the plight of those with tenure.

This must be a troll, right? WG sang *plenty* of songs about worker solidarity. This includes everyone (even professors with tenure - but you'll be surprised to know tenure is increasingly rare).
posted by jaduncan at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


But if you have a union movement in Wisconsin, big enough for national media to look at, then...it may make the union in New Jersey say, "you know what...." and act themselves. And then Kansas' union says "hey, if Wisconsin and New Jersey are in on this, we can do it too" and then Arkansas comes in and says "us too" and then Vermont says "same here" and then Kermit comes out and leads all the Muppets in singing "Just One Person" and...

But out in Detroit here's what they found,
And out in Frisco here's what they found,
And out in Pittsburgh here's what they found,
And down in Bethlehem here's what they found ...

posted by mikepop at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Given, there is a HUGE difference between a college professor, and the guy who has to crawl into a sewer in February and try to fix a pipe and any reassessment should take those things into consideration.

UW professors dont belong to a union, and anyway get representation through the university system itself and it's various governing bodies. Anyway, they don't make up much of the employee count of the UW.

But again, this fallacy of the lazy pipe smoking millionaire college professor is not useful. The overwhelming bulk of the people affected are regular workers for the state - from snow plow drivers to groundskeepers to pipefitters to electricians.

You know, working class blue collar shlubs like my dad.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:37 AM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


fucking senators fleeing the state?

Hey senators! If any of you happened to flee west and find yourselves persona non grata (or whatever the plural is) in Saint Paul, feel free to stop by my place. I've got Jameson!
posted by Think_Long at 11:38 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: I wonder why you haven't put your pinko ass on a boat to Havana yet
posted by wcfields at 11:42 AM on February 17, 2011


there is a HUGE difference between a college professor, and the guy who has to crawl into a sewer in February and try to fix a pipe

It's funny you should mention that, because at the protest yesterday I saw several guys from the union (can't remember the name) of people who literally do crawl into the sewer in February to fix pipes. They were there in support of the professors (and everyone else).
posted by echo target at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


People who should NOT be affected are any fire/police/first responders. Anyone who is brave/nuts enough to run toward gunfire or into burning buildings should have their community and government at their back 100%.

They aren't affected under Walker's proposal. Theyre exempt, but still led the charge into the capitol building. Because eventually they'll be next.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I love that there are probably enough people reading this thread in Wisconsin border areas to house fleeing Wisconsin representatives. I'm not sure why it makes me so happy, but it does.

And as for anybody who believes "unions did good in the past, but now...", the same groups who didn't want workers to have a two-day weekend "in the past" would take it a way in an instant if not for the unions of "now."

and this isn't even considering the number of people who work 6-7 days a week in order to just survive
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:44 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


But again, this fallacy of the lazy pipe smoking millionaire college professor is not useful.

Well, you say that. I'm sure Fox is pushing it hard right now.
posted by jaduncan at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2011


I worked on a campaign in 2010, for a Democrat, who was up against one of these fools that was staunchly anti-UAW and unions in general. We pretty much won by the skin of our teeth. We really need the unions to get fired up again for 2012 if we're going to have a shot at closing the deficit in the House of Reps. and retaining the majority in the Senate.
posted by ofthestrait at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


A conversation with a friend would bear this out. I'm in a Union (or, was -- I've retired from the given industry and haven't cancelled my membership yet), and the friend to whom I was speaking is the son of a Union guy. And he dismissed the Unions today as being largely political machines, where the people who make the decisions for the Union don't actually do any of the work that they're supposed to be representing.

When I mentioned my own Union membership -- in Actors' Equity -- and that it was comprised of active actors and Stage managers, and that Equity had gone to bat for me on two occasions -- my friend only said that theater folk "didn't produce any manufactured good", so it didn't count.


it's a hard conversation to have in a context where having a union at all is symptomatic of creeping socialism. but one of the reasons that we don't have real socialism in the US is the skilled labor industrial unions. unless you are pulling for the IWW, unionism kind of goes hand-in-hand with industrial capitalism. it's kind of like outsourcing HR for classes of workers. the fact that business leaders are so greedy that they don't see the benefits in having unions to negotiate work/pay issues with means it's impossible to talk about just what unionism should be.

the union i was part of was in the UAW and that union has huge political problems and (partially as a result legacy of Reuther) has a definite cadre of internal politicians.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


They aren't affected under Walker's proposal. Theyre exempt, but still led the charge into the capitol building. Because eventually they'll be next.

exactly. It's that "first they came for the Jews, but I did not speak up for I am not a Jew" thing.
posted by Think_Long at 11:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


the same groups who didn't want workers to have a two-day weekend "in the past" would take it a way in an instant if not for the unions of "now."

hell, they would feed people dog food and use child labor if they could get away with it.
posted by desjardins at 11:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


So back to this one issue: I don't see how I, as a citizen, or taxpayer, or user of public services, benefit from such a high rate of unionisation of public employees. I mean, they're my employees right? I want as much control over them as possible? Sacking the useless ones, paying the good ones more, changing terms and conditions according to service need, that sort of thing?

Sorry for jumping in here without reading EVERY COMMENT in the thread, but things are moving fast and ...

You sound like me not very long ago. Eventually, a union-politico-type took a few moments to clarify a key point. Public Sector Unions Set The Bar. In terms of wages, in terms of rights, in terms of protections. No, everybody in the private sector won't get the same deal for doing essentially the "same job", and this can seem unfair, inconsistent, unjust. But at least there is a bar to refer to, that has some weight behind it, that isn't just an abstract bit of scratching on a fading contract that can be shrugged away on some boss's whim.
posted by philip-random at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


You would think with all those UW PhD's rending their garments about this, there would be a couple of PolySci and Econ sorts who could point out why this bill is bad/unnecessary, and offer a better solution.

At the risk of feeding a troll and with all due respect that this contention deserves, are you out of your fucking mind?

Your thinking is that those points have not been made and if they were, they would be considered in good faith by the governor and Republican state legislators?
posted by ambient2 at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tangentially related: Legislators in Florida are now pushing back against Governor Rick Scott's decision to refuse high-speed rail funding, asserting that Scott doesn't have the authority to reject the funds because the funds had already been accepted under legislation adopted by the previous legislature and executive branch. I swear, since he's been in office, nearly 8 in 10 of the steps he's taken have been denounced on both sides as exceeding the constitutional authority of his office.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


hell, they would feed people dog food and use child labor if they could get away with it.

Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill to minimize child labor laws..
posted by emjaybee at 11:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


XZQYHGPHERWHAEVERYOUSPELLIT: "It's always and only about getting what they want and pissing off liberals."

This was my thought of Walker when I first saw him with the train and then some of the other things - that he was a Troll. I wanted to make one of those rage-guy/troll cartoons, but now... now it's more than just a funny-haha-but-moderatelydepressing. This is clearly outright class war. And I intend to be on the side of the worker's army.
posted by symbioid at 11:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill to minimize child labor laws.

WTF is going on here?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:57 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]




hell, they would feed people dog food and use child labor if they could get away with it.

I think if their gloves really came off, they'd feed people children and use dog labor.
posted by mikelieman at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


While I'll admit to some misgivings about the way certain unions (and/or union members) behave in certain situations, I'm by no means anti-union, and I really think this bill is despicable. But I absolutely love the whole senators leaving the state thing; when the Texas democrats did it back in '03 I found out which hotel they holed up in in Albuquerque and sent them pizza. To me, the fact that this works - that by certain individuals not showing up you can stop laws from being passed - actually speaks to the strength of the rule of law in the US.

Although saying that "This is the ultimate shutdown" kinda suggests to me that you don't really understand what "ultimate" or "shutdown" actually mean.
posted by nickmark at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the WI Senate Majority leader turns to the State Police for their help in tracking down the Dems, who does he ask? His dad.
posted by scalefree at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I swear, since he's been in office, nearly 8 in 10 of the steps he's taken have been denounced on both sides as exceeding the constitutional authority of his office.


Phht. What are *rules* to they guy who committed the largest healthcare fraud in history?
posted by mikelieman at 11:59 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


non-prisoner U.S. worker making office furniture: $13.04.

Hey that's what I make! Guys, guess what? I make more than a prisoner!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:00 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or 4 cents less than the average office furniture manufacturer.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:01 PM on February 17, 2011


"College professors ... $120,000 a year ... work 20-25 hours a week ... summers off ... one-month break at Christmas ..."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

(*gasps*)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ...

HaHa

Ha

hee.
posted by kyrademon at 12:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


I love Florida, I miss Jacksonville and all the people I love there...

... and I CAN'T STAND DOUCHE BAG McFUCK-STICK!!!

...

I mean, the distinguished, Governor Rick Scott.

I know of not one single person that voted for him.

Christ, what and asshole.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:09 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


thsmchnekllsfascists: "Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill to minimize child labor laws.

WTF is going on here?
"

I totally agree. I just don't get why there isn't a more widespread sense of outrage, among liberals and in the general public. Can people really be that blinded by political outrage that any damn thing that has an (R) next to its sponsor is okay? The same people that said Obama was creating death councils is minimizing child labor and running roughshod over workers' right?

On a similar note, I am so confused (I mean, I know why, but it's still confusing that it happens) about why blue-collar workers are no longer predominantly Democratic. It's like all they see are taxes and religious issues, and fuck everything else. Socialism would be such a huge improvement for these fools.
posted by theredpen at 12:10 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Just chiming in with my feel-good-but-ineffectual GO UNIONS!

I wonder what my Wisconsin family is up to now, though they're out on the west side of the state.
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on February 17, 2011


Hear! hear! GOOOOOOOOOOO UNIONS!
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The same people that said Obama was creating death councils is minimizing child labor and running roughshod over workers' right?

a) Once organised labour has been crushed, there's not much left to stop a rollback of rights. If the unions lose the WI fight it will be a big blow, which is why both sides are invested. At the moment, there is only really one sector with a really big set of unions to kill.

b) Workers rights mean less to some people once they retire ("screw you, I've got mine" I believe).
posted by jaduncan at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not surprising, but revealing how little national media coverage these protests are getting so far. How can we pressure the media to start paying more attention?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2011


WTF is going on here?

Lets not forget Missouri's other winning piece of legislation, the Kick a Puppy Act of 2011.
posted by scalefree at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just heard from some coworkers about an extremely odd coincidence. Yesterday, I wrote some code that had to run exactly once and prevent itself from running again. The JFC did, as well, but their code was in the form of an amendment to the budget repair bill.

It contains a self-modifying clause. In summary, the clause gives the state governor certain powers, and as soon as any governor exercises those powers, the clause repeals itself (technically, it repeals the section of the state statutes that will have originated in the clause). Very clever.
posted by Jpfed at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Raised standards of living for all workers can only be achieved by raising the standards of living for all workers and keeping it that way, not by pitting worker against worker in a mad race to the bottom
I can't favorite this comment enough saulgoodman. It gets to the very heart of the issue of unions and until people can see this, I fear it's only going to get worse.

A lot of people don't realize that unions were at the core of the Civil Rights movement (MLK was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers when he was murdered.) Because the notion of fair wages for all and workers working together to improve conditions is more of a human rights/civil rights issue rather than one of labor. Unions do far more than just work to ensure a decent wage and hours and the loss of Union authority and power over the last few decades has been a huge detriment to this country.

Hell, there's a lot of scholars who point out that the states with poor union support and recognition, like a large part of the South, are also states with low incomes, poor social structure and high drop out rates.
posted by teleri025 at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


jaduncan: ""screw you, I've got mine""

That's the motto of my grandparents' generation.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironically, it seems that running away is actually the most courageous thing anyone has seen the dems do in years.
posted by fartknocker at 12:23 PM on February 17, 2011 [37 favorites]




In summary, the clause gives the state governor certain powers,

Any word on what the powers are?
posted by drezdn at 12:27 PM on February 17, 2011




It contains a self-modifying clause. In summary, the clause gives the state governor certain powers, and as soon as any governor exercises those powers, the clause repeals itself (technically, it repeals the section of the state statutes that will have originated in the clause). Very clever.

Are these policy changing powers? If it means that the changes can't be switched back without legislation then I'm not sure 'clever' is so much what I'd use as 'quite undemocratic in concept'.
posted by jaduncan at 12:28 PM on February 17, 2011


As far as strategy goes, now is a good time for union-busting. The repubs and tea party have managed to get Joe Average to buy the dream that he IS upper-class, wealthy, and CEO/management. Oh, maybe not right now, but any time now.

That's why greedy unions, welfare state, etc. are bad. Those fucking leeches, getting undeserved handouts from the IMPORTANT people in this country!

It's fucking weird. Joe, you ARE the people. You're not going to be Andrew Carnegie soon, or probably ever. Why are you helping shoot yourself in the foot?
posted by ctmf at 12:29 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]



Photo from inside the capitol building.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2011 [29 favorites]


So, let's say the Dems actually have the gumption to stay away. How many are required for a quorum? If they stay away, are there any neglect clauses that could get them impeached? Could they get arrested if they come back one at a time? Are the people on the Republicans side effectively trapped in Madison in the meanwhile?
posted by zennie at 12:31 PM on February 17, 2011


People don't understand how truly staggering a billion dollars is.
posted by symbioid at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2011


Join Your Union.
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless, of course, it's a state budget then they act like 137 million is a trillion dollars!
posted by symbioid at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2011


It's my understanding that they need one Democratic Senator to reach quorum.
posted by drezdn at 12:34 PM on February 17, 2011


> It's fucking weird. Joe, you ARE the people. You're not going to be Andrew Carnegie soon, or probably ever. Why are you helping shoot yourself in the foot?

Because if you work hard and believe in yourself you'll get everything you deserve!
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:35 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


20 are required for quorum, and there's 19 Republican state senators. If they manage to catch one Dem, they can pass the bill.
posted by echo target at 12:35 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are you helping shoot yourself in the foot?

Ooh, and c) because people don't understand probability, economic statistics or the economic power law that leads to very few people being rich.
posted by jaduncan at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2011


I Imagine there is some bar just over the Illinois State line doing a brisk trade right now.
posted by edgeways at 12:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Photo from inside the capitol building.

OK, that brought tears to my eyes.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, let's say the Dems actually have the gumption to stay away. How many are required for a quorum? If they stay away, are there any neglect clauses that could get them impeached? Could they get arrested if they come back one at a time? Are the people on the Republicans side effectively trapped in Madison in the meanwhile?

State Senator Erpenbach said "we have time" meaning presumably that they are prepared to stay away for the duration.

Without a quorum, the senate can conduct no business. The head of the senate can order the state police to arrest them and bring them in, and they may face fines or other sanctions from the governing body. However, if they have left the state (as Erpenbach says they have) then there is nothing the the state police can do.

The republicans are essentially trapped as if any of them were to leave they may not have a quorum then when/if the democrats return.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's fucking weird. Joe, you ARE the people. You're not going to be Andrew Carnegie soon, or probably ever. Why are you helping shoot yourself in the foot?

During a conversation about tax cuts for the rich, I stunned a family member when I said "if anyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and make a million dollars, why haven't you done it?"
posted by desjardins at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [58 favorites]


OK, that brought tears to my eyes.

Yeah. Caring about one another doesn't have to look weak.
posted by jaduncan at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: But eliminated collective bargaining is not a cost saving measure - its a union busting one.

You're right, it's clearly a politically-motivated attempt to break/attack the public sector unions. I guess I'm arguing that I don't see why this is such a bad thing. Generally, as an employer, you want more power over your employees, not less. As citizens of Wisconsin state you want to (loaded examples follow) sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them, no?

EmpressCallipygos: The whole point of unions is "the more people we have on our team, the more the powers that be will take notice."

Yes, okay. But at some point in your life, you may be the "powers that be". For example, when you're in a nursing home, you want to have good state inspectors to look after your interests. If the state has spent all the budget on pensions for firefighters then they can't employ good inspectors. Am I making sense? If you are a firefighter, then the firefighter union is clearly "your team". If you're not a firefighter, then the firefighter union clearly NOT your team. (I'm suddenly struck by the fact that Communist regimes make unions part of the state apparatus - that is, unions are indeed good representatives and advocates for their members, and their interests are not the same as their employers, so Communist regimes ban independent unions. Independent unions are not generally permitted. Is that too strong an example?)

dinty_moore: [Answering "why should we support unions?"] Because a) even if it isn't to my benefit, I like the idea of paying teachers a decent wage-should I ever have a child, I'd argue that it would be to my benefit to have well-paid teachers for them and b)as an employee, I generally support worker's rights and hope they become more of a norm instead of an anomoly, because I hope to have them one day.

Yes, of course, you want to attract good state employees to carry out functions like employing your children. But you also want to sack lousy state employees who are not good at carrying out such functions, right? And unions are generally against your sacking their members. So unions might impede the ability of your service providers to manage their workforce, which is likely to be bad for service provision. They're also generally against great graduations in pay scale, since they represent all their members, so it might be hard to pay the really really good teachers enough to keep them going into private education. I guess I'm saying that your interests and theirs are not aligned.

I take your point about workers' rights. However, I'd observe that strong workers' rights may have negative impacts for other groups, such as the young or unemployed. If you can't fire Jack then you don't have the budget or space to hire Jill, even if you want to. John might be willing to work sixty hours a week to get on, because he's only twenty, but you can't let him because it's illegal, so you might as well keep Jane on even though she'll only work forty hours because she's older and her wife will complain if she's late home from work. It's good for workers, it's not so good for non-workers. The troubles in the Arabic countries we've seen recently - young people denied economic opportunities - come to mind here.

saulgoodman: If you increase wages for any sector of the workforce, that creates positive pressure on wages generally as employers try to keep up. Not to mention it increases money in the economy that creates more revenue that other employers should be using to raise worker's wages.

I'm not an economist, but I don't think your second point is correct - I think increasing wages just shifts more money to wages, not the overall money supply.

But more generally, I agree that a strong rate of wage inflation in a sector is generally good for wages. I have two objections. First, I suspect public sector wage inflation is a monstrously inefficient way to increase living standards - how many people do you have to employ and what do you have to pay to achieve this effect, and is the enormous amounts of cash you are shifting around efficiently-allocated? Second, I strongly suspect that taking people away from the investing, producing, exporting private sector and putting them in the enormously-valuable but essentially service-providing public sector isn't good for your economy in this world of globalisation and competition. I am reminded of a complaint made in poor countries that smart people go into taxi driving for tourists because there's so much money to be made there, where they should go into building factories or inventing new things to make.

jaduncan: ... These are hard jobs, with large amounts of training, and people with experience lead to higher quality outcomes ... The UK currently has awful retention stats for people entering the teaching profession, and they commonly say that this is due to overwork and stress. Do you think this is good for teaching?

No, I agree, you need to pay good wages for good people. But teaching is a good example. I've read both Francis Gilbert's I'M A TEACHER, GET ME OUT OF HERE, and "Frank Chalk's" IT'S YOUR TIME YOU'RE WASTING. Both describe terrible, awful teachers who are failing the poor, disadvantaged kids we would all agree need more life chances. Both describe terrible problems of discipline. But neither is an issue of better pay and conditions for teachers. The rate of removal of teachers for incompetence is astonishingly low - some local authorities (a local authority in the UK is the same size as a smaller US state) sack not one teacher a year for being lousy. The discipline issues are up to the state to fix, but unions could help with the lousy teacher problem but will not.

Don't get me wrong, they represent their members' interests, even their members that are lousy. Good for them. But they are not my ally in getting my children educated, they are my foe. Am I making sense? They are "producer interests" as New Labour used to call them. They are not on my side, as a taxpayer/citizen/subject. I don't see why I should support them.
posted by alasdair at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


b) Workers rights mean less to some people once they retire ("screw you, I've got mine" I believe).

And that's particularly appalling to me because I'm only in my 30's, and over the last ten years I've come to no longer expect retirement.

My parents thought they would be able to retire. Then all the jobs left town and their savings plans were annihilated by widespread financial malfeasance. Not seeing any sign of those types of problems turning around anytime soon.
posted by heatvision at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


alasdair, you have waaaaaaaaay too much faith in the Capitalist class.
posted by symbioid at 12:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


I Imagine there is some bar just over the Illinois State line doing a brisk trade right now.

Richmond and Antioch aren't too bad. Not sure I'd want to hang out in South Beloit.
posted by desjardins at 12:41 PM on February 17, 2011


I'm a UW prof, and I was inside the cap rotunda again today, but not for myself (and my pay, which is well under half that mythical 120K) but to support the rights of our graduate students, and the classified staff, and the teachers teaching my friends kids, and the state bridge inspectors and railway workers and other state workers I saw there protesting. Beautiful in there, by the way. Lots of kids, huge fandom for the firefighters, and a sea of Bucky red.
posted by Mngo at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2011 [42 favorites]


sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them

Alasdair, why do you believe that it actually works this way in the absence of unions?
posted by fatbird at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


fatbird: "sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them

Alasdair, why do you believe that it actually works this way in the absence of unions?
"

Cuz Ayn Rand said so!
posted by symbioid at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


when you're in a nursing home, you want to have good state inspectors to look after your interests. If the state has spent all the budget on pensions for firefighters then they can't employ good inspectors. Am I making sense?

No. None whatsoever.

Because never in the history of ever would you have a case where a state has exhausted its "nursing home inspector" budget by overspending on the "pensions for firefighters" line on the budget.

But you gave me two spots on the "boo to the unions" bingo card, so thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


State Senator Erpenbach said "we have time" meaning presumably that they are prepared to stay away for the duration.

Sweet. Thanks Pogo and drezdn. Slick move for the WI Dems.
posted by zennie at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The republicans are essentially trapped as if any of them were to leave they may not have a quorum then when/if the democrats return.

It's so sweet that they're trapped in MADISON rather than, say, Waukesha County.
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Plunge right through that line!
Run the ball clear 'round Chicago
Touchdown sure this time.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Fight on for her fame
Fight! Fellows! - fight, fight, fight!
We'll win this game.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm arguing that I don't see why this is such a bad thing. Generally, as an employer, you want more power over your employees, not less. As citizens of Wisconsin state you want to (loaded examples follow) sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them, no?

History has demonstrated, time and again, that lack of strong representation of worker interests results in those interests being ignored at best and militated against at worst.

Now - sure, if there were strong laws and government intervention into employee/ermployer relations it might make Unions redundant. However, that's a hypothetical. Such a situation does not exist.

As an example, my father was fired from his job of 28 years when he was injured and filed a workers comp claim. Because he was fired, they also denied his retirement benefits and refused to pay for the injury. This is clearly illegal, however the state attorney general would not prosecute because they considered it a civil matter.

My now unemployed, close-to-retirement age working class father was expected to pony up the cash to get a large multinational corporation to pay him his just benefits.

Absent his union, he would have been fucked. They brought a suit and got everything they asked for and a sizeable settlement to boot.

This is why we still need unions.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [87 favorites]


Ok, just talked with my coworker again. There was a misreading of the self-repealing clause (it's quite convoluted). In reality: the bill as it exists gives the Department of Health the ability to modify health policy via the use of executive "rules", distinct from legislatively-enacted statutes.

The amended bill makes two changes to these "rules": first, it makes them subject to "passive review" by the JFC (the JFC gets two weeks to say "no" to a DHS rule; saying nothing is equivalent to saying "yes"), and secondly, it adds Jan. 1 2015 (the end of Walker's first term) expiration dates to itself and all DHS rules made under this clause but not enacted into statutes (which effectively gives temporary powers to the Walker administration via the Department of Health, but not directly to Walker; the legislature may choose to make the temporary rules last beyond Walker's term by passing them as normal legislation).
posted by Jpfed at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong, they represent their members' interests, even their members that are lousy. Good for them. But they are not my ally in getting my children educated, they are my foe. Am I making sense? They are "producer interests" as New Labour used to call them. They are not on my side, as a taxpayer/citizen/subject. I don't see why I should support them.

Well, no. The good people often leave, because they have other options. If the pay and conditions are bad, people with choices will leave (or become ineffective due to stress). This will leave the rest, who are indeed often hard to sack.

Second, I strongly suspect that taking people away from the investing, producing, exporting private sector and putting them in the enormously-valuable but essentially service-providing public sector isn't good for your economy in this world of globalisation and competition.

Education is. Infrastructure is. Both of these things enable the private sector to function, and more importantly enable citizens to have a high quality of life.

The NHS is the largest employer in the UK, and it provides far superior outcomes for business by removing the cost of health care and ensuring that workers are fitter than would otherwise be the case. It is also heavily unionised, and produces extremely good health outcomes compared to the US private sector.

This is all irrelevant compared to the fact that high quality nurses can save the lives and improve the day to day health of people who do not have to pay for treatment, but I suspect it is not unrelated.
posted by jaduncan at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


As this proposed legislation has energized labor unions more than anything else in recent years... they should make a point of not wasting the current opportunity they've created with their protest. Rather than accepting a toned down version of the legislation, or even a complete scrapping of it, they should be the ones demanding concessions at this point! They should be demanding even more labor rights and the right to organize more easily. It's as simple as that. Labor has held, and does hold, most of the cards in modern society. If they choose to shut the city down, or even the entire state, there is little that can be done about it. And then how will Governor Walker react? It's quite possible that the National Guard, made up of workers, won't carry out his orders.
Nihilo Zero on the protests
posted by symbioid at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Senator walk out surprised. I hadn't even heard a mention that it could be a possibility, making me wonder if no one was talking about it to prevent the Repubs. from preparing for it. It might make me petty, but I hope it piss Walker off.
posted by drezdn at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2011


There's a lot I hate about living in this state, but every once in a while it's nice to be reminded that it has it's good qualities as well.

drezdn : $56k is for a teacher with a master's degree and 10+ years of experience.

And this right here is damn near everything that is wrong. Teachers should be one of the highest paid professions in the country. Parents should demand this, because these are the people that are educating and helping to raise their children, and a good salary would help to attract the very best the nation has to offer. That people tolerate their children in broken schools with teachers who can barely afford to live boggles me.

Of course, my mom is retired MPS, so I'm sure that might have colored my opinion on this subject just a bit.
posted by quin at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I grew up on MEA (one of the Michigan teacher's unions) picket lines in the 70's. My parents were trying to make enough to be middle class.

In the early 80's, after 5 or 6 very successful strikes that improved teacher working conditions (for example, the right to go to the toilet), reduced class sizes and increased teacher salaries, the kid down the street got a job at Ford's, filling in on the assembly line. He had a high school diploma and made more in take home pay than did either of my parents, who had MAs and over 10 years of experience teaching each.

This is why we need unions.
posted by QIbHom at 12:51 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Of course, my mom is retired MPS, so I'm sure that might have colored my opinion on this subject just a bit.

No, I'd sign up for that. There is nothing with such a bad long term expense as cutting the education budget. Even people who only care about their own finances should be able to understand that these are the workers who will be paying their pensions.
posted by jaduncan at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2011


It's partly because ordinary Americans now think it's possible to sit on "the right wing" of the body politic simply because of certain political views they hold. The people in America been deprived of the knowledge that they are the left-wing, and need to play that role in our political processes to protect our shared interests, regardless of what they've been led to feel about the terms "right" and "left." Without a left wing that knows itself, only the right wing gets its interests on the agenda.
The terms Left and Right to refer to political affiliation originated early in the French Revolutionary era, and referred originally to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France. The aristocracy sat on the right of the Speaker (traditionally the seat of honor) and the commoners sat on the Left, hence the terms Right-wing politics and Left-wing politics. (Cite.)
Without a coherent political left that remains active in America today representing the interests of our own non-aristocratic masses, there's essentially no coherent coalition representing ordinary people's interests in the political process anymore, and large numbers of people who knowingly or not belong to the left wing of our society don't even understand that regardless of how they view themselves, they actually are the left wing of society whose interest's they are being led to work against.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


I take your point about workers' rights. However, I'd observe that strong workers' rights may have negative impacts for other groups, such as the young or unemployed. If you can't fire Jack then you don't have the budget or space to hire Jill, even if you want to. John might be willing to work sixty hours a week to get on, because he's only twenty, but you can't let him because it's illegal, so you might as well keep Jane on even though she'll only work forty hours because she's older and her wife will complain if she's late home from work. It's good for workers, it's not so good for non-workers. The troubles in the Arabic countries we've seen recently - young people denied economic opportunities - come to mind here.

. . . are we actually doing that much better here? Knowing the number of times I've heard a recent (last three years) college graduate talk about how not only do they not have jobs, they don't know anyone with a job from their graduating class. . . I'm guessing it's not looking too good. I haven't seen any stats on that in over a year, though. . . But that's largely a demographic concern along with the giant recession-nobody is retiring, and nobody is going to take a chance with recent grads when there's plenty of out of work people with tons of experience and are desperate enough to take entry level pay.

If Jane can do everything in 40 hours that Jack and do in 60 hours, then of course-keep Jane! If not and you need the extra 20 hours of work-well then, hire two employees.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2011


Also, for those of you who don't live here, two weeks ago the souther eastern part of WI got one of the biggest blizzards in... ever. And almost mediately dropped to several degrees below zero with a wind chill of negative death.

Today, 15 days later, it's in the low fifties.

Clearly mother nature herself wants people to be able to protest comfortably.
posted by quin at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Generally, as an employer, you want more power over your employees, not less to be able to treat your employees as close to slaves as possible. The way for workers to begin balancing the power employers hold over them is to join together and negotiate as a group to protect themselves.
posted by Fin Azvandi at 12:55 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


the kid down the street got a job at Ford's, filling in on the assembly line. He had a high school diploma and made more in take home pay than did either of my parents, who had MAs and over 10 years of experience teaching each.

Serious question - was he part of the UAW?
posted by playertobenamedlater at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If you can't fire Jack then you don't have the budget or space to hire Jill, even if you want to. John might be willing to work sixty hours a week to get on, because he's only twenty, but you can't let him because it's illegal, so you might as well keep Jane on even though she'll only work forty hours because she's older and her wife will complain if she's late home from work"

This is an argument I've seen on a political blog (was it Robert Reich) that argued our "solution" to social security is ass backwards. We have an employment crisis, and instead of getting younger healthy people in to help pay for social security, we force it to be worse by making older people work longer for "their" benefits. So now you have a lot of young unemployed people. We need to retire EARLIER and let the work pool replenish.

But that goes against our whole American Myth.
posted by symbioid at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not an economist, but I don't think your second point is correct - I think increasing wages just shifts more money to wages, not the overall money supply.

State workers spend their money like everyone else, friend. Only in the ideological la-la-land of Republican politics are government workers not actual workers whose economic contributions are equal to those of any other worker in the economy.

People with money in their pockets create more economic activity (by, you know, buying things and starting small businesses and such), that leads to more revenue flowing, which is what's minimally required to make wage increases possible. Not that growing profits ever seem to lead to wage increases anymore.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


playertobenamedlater, he was not, because he was a sub. However, the UAW negotiated the contract that specified what he be paid.

If wages and employment go down, no one has the money to buy anything, which starts a death spiral for the economy. Which is pretty much what has happened in Detroit and why I no longer live there.
posted by QIbHom at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


@QIbHom - Thanks, I thought that might be the case.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2011


This shows the brilliance of connecting the church and the state vs a vis the republican party. Religion is an emotional thing that defies logic. If you tie a person's vote to not only be a vote on a particular issue, but a vote for their god, how can you expect them to do other than vote that way?

This is how you get people to vote against their interests.
posted by maxwelton at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how the anti-union argument basically boils down to, "The mote in your eye warrants removal of your eye, while the beam in my eye warrants...removal of your eye."
posted by Pants McCracky at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


QIbHom, take home pay doesn't measure everything. Did he get more job satisfaction out of bolting on bumpers than your parents did from teaching children? Is the plant still in existence (schools are harder to move overseas than manufacturing plants)? Was he more likely to lose a finger in an industrial accident? Did your parents have more autonomy on the job?
posted by Jahaza at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2011


Clearly mother nature herself wants people to be able to protest comfortably.

I wonder if Walker's mad he didn't push the bill through last week.
posted by drezdn at 1:05 PM on February 17, 2011


I just wonder if Walker's mad.
posted by Floydd at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


fatbird: [Alasdair: "sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them"] Alasdair, why do you believe that it actually works this way in the absence of unions?

Well, I guess there are countless situations in which this won't apply. Where investment bankers fleece their investors, or where the criteria for success are misaligned, or the guy making the pay/sack decision has incomplete information. But I'm reasonably confident, as a layman, in asserting that the presence in the employer/employee relationship of an employee representative agency that is dedicated to bettering the lot of members as a whole will not support sacking members or paying some members more. I'll cite teachers in the UK as an example. Outside of German industry, do we have any counter-examples?

EmpressCallipygos: Because never in the history of ever would you have a case where a state has exhausted its "nursing home inspector" budget by overspending on the "pensions for firefighters" line on the budget.

Well, okay, it was an illustrative point. Here is the British Trades Union Congress:

The Treasury does indeed produce estimates of the cost of paying public sector pensions as a proportion of GDP (not taking into account contributions). They show an increase from 1.5% of GDP to 2% by 2027-28. Exploding Public Sector Pensions Myths

(I hope we'll agree that the TUC is a pro-union source.) So the state will be paying more money into pensions, and less into current services - like nursing home inspectors.

Now, the public sector unions in the UK have recently negotiated changes to pension rights, protecting current members at the expense of future members. Which brings me back to my general objection: unions are special interest groups for their current members - not even their future members! - so why should we have any particular sympathy for them? I mean, we should listen to their counsel: they represent enormously-important providers of public services. They are important members of the public discourse. But their interests are not our own.
posted by alasdair at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2011


(as in insane, I mean)
posted by Floydd at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


State workers spend their money like everyone else, friend.

This is an especially important fact in smaller (non-Madison, non-Milwaukee) college towns, where all the state-paid unionized campus employees are the linchpin of the entire local economy. And yet you'll routinely see townies (like our local newspaper assholes, for instance) agitating against the selfish, overpaid unions and suggesting we take pay cuts. Yes, because everyone here will be so much better off if we all get shittier pay, especially the people shoring up all the local merchants, tradespeople, artisans, etc.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


Jahaza, no, take home pay isn't everything. However, do you really think it is reasonable that an 18 year old high school graduate can make more take home pay than experienced teachers with graduate degrees?

Job satisfaction is important, but as an excuse for not paying people what they are worth, it sucks.
posted by QIbHom at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Qibhom - my grandfather, a teacher/MEA member, always told me it wouldn't necessarily make sense for me to go to college because I could make so much more money working on the assembly line. And then the 1990s happened.
posted by ofthestrait at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"sack the useless ones and pay the good ones more to keep them"

In my experience, in the modern professional workplace the majority of "the good ones" get nothing. Employees from politically or financially well-connected families, on the other hand, can do very little and still get whatever they want. Nepotism and cronyism often have far more to do with success nowadays than meritocracy. Sure, it's not overwhelmingly down to those factors yet, but it's already much more the case than a truly democratic republic can sustain. Leadership roles in many professional workplaces all come down to rainmaking--and guess what? People who come from the ranks of the politically well-connected and economically elite have an overwhelming advantage over middle class people when it comes to being rainmakers.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's not "Republicanism" it's "Spite-ism"
posted by symbioid at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I'm not an economist, but I don't think your second point is correct - I think increasing wages just shifts more money to wages, not the overall money supply. "

Actually, increasing wages isn't zero-sum, and works on the fiscal multiplier principle, especially when funneled through the state (fiscal multiplier is more often seen with Keynesian government spending).

So, you are wrong, and I hope that information helps you reconsider.
posted by klangklangston at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2011


Studies have shown that union members are much more likely to vote based on economic issues only - they are much less likely to be distracted by social issues used to muddy what are essentially economic questions. This is because the union educates them and they have a first hand chance to see how the union works.

That's the reason why the right has fought so hard to dismantle unions - an educated and motivated opponent is more dangerous.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Per the AFL-CIO blog again, Protests spread to Ohio.
posted by emjaybee at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Alasdair:
But I'm reasonably confident, as a layman, in asserting that the presence in the employer/employee relationship of an employee representative agency that is dedicated to bettering the lot of members as a whole will not support sacking members or paying some members more.
This is a reasonable position for a layman to take, but it's not very tightly to connected to reality, at least in my experience. Private, non-unionized employers still use wage scales in order to make things routine and predictable. Forget the unions--try giving one of your ten employees a merit raise out of line of everyone else and see how your department functions after that. Try firing Betty, the secretary who's not that fast or pleasant but has been there forever. And my father, a senior government employee, once fired a union member--the only thing the union did was ensure that the agreed-upon process was followed. I've personally had nearly incompetent coworkers who weren't fired because our manager didn't want to risk losing the allocated position.

This idea that, absent a union, a meritocracy can take hold, just isn't very true in practice.
posted by fatbird at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Now, the public sector unions in the UK have recently negotiated changes to pension rights[....]They are important members of the public discourse. But their interests are not our own.

Well, I can at least agree that the interests of the public sector unions in the United Kingdom are not the same interests as those of workers in The United States.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2011


so why should we have any particular sympathy for them?

Alisdair, you bring up a lot of points about the downsides of unions. Some of them I agree with, and some of them I find a bit dubious. The problem is, you're ignoring all the giant positives that unions bring to the table. Do you really want management to have complete control over workers rights? Because from my perspective, that's the alternative to strong unions. I support this by citing working conditions in societies, past and present, without strong unions.

Even if I conceded all your points on their downsides, I would still be pro-union because I believe their positives outweigh their negatives.
posted by auto-correct at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


So the state will be paying more money into pensions, and less into current services - like nursing home inspectors.

Doesn't this implicitly assume a fixed state budget over time?

Generally, as an employer, you want more power over your employees, not less to be able to treat your employees as close to slaves as possible.

Y'know, I've had a number of different employers of varying sizes, and while I've had better and worse bosses and managers, I've never come across anything close to this attitude.
posted by nickmark at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I've had a number of different employers of varying sizes, and while I've had better and worse bosses and managers, I've never come across anything close to this attitude.

Talk to a Chinese factory worker about that. You'll recognise the prodcts they are making.
posted by jaduncan at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]




My father was a union electrician (master level) but Texas is a right-to-work state, so the work dried up in favor of non-union workers in the late 70s. IBEW did not have the momentum to do much at the time.

My dad decided that unions didn't work, and went into real estate/building houses. Which was good until the housing bust of the late 80s. He and my mom then ran an oil-change shop, but were too young for Medicare/unable to get their own insurance due to a previous heart attack. Which means he also went w/out preventative care.

My dad's heart flared up again in 1991, and he died, leaving my mom bankrupt w/ hospital bills.

I can't help thinking what kind of security and healthcare they might have had if IBEW had more clout. At the very least, he would have left behind a larger pension to help out my mom.
posted by emjaybee at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


But their interests are not our own."

I like weekends, worker safety and higher wages. Their interests are very much my own, with only deviations in the specifics (like carpenters supporting dubious development). Unions are the rising tide that lifts all boats; the alternative is supply-side "trickle-down," which simply does not work.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2011 [17 favorites]


Sorry I was balls on the HTML: Fiscal multiplier.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2011


Good news, Zennie. I think the mayor was up at the rally earlier--good for him.
posted by Mngo at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2011


Ah, that would be just for the city of course.
posted by zennie at 1:25 PM on February 17, 2011


For supply-side arguments.

The scatter chart represents the number of billionaires per million inhabitants (Y-axis, normal scale) relative to the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in US$ (x-axis, logarithmic scale). There is no correlation between the number of billionaires per capita and GDP per capita (r = 0.28), which means that a high GDP per capita does not imply a strong presence of very wealthy people.

The Czech Republic occupies the median position with 2.9 billionaires per 10 million people and a GDP per capita of US$ 18,635. The maximum corresponds to Hong Kong with 3.4 billionaires per million, and a GDP per capita of US$ 28,409, and the minimum to Pakistan with 1 billionaire per 100 million people and a GDP per capita of US$ 979. Switzerland is the regular case of a wealthy nation (GDP per capita of US$ 64,207 or 3.45 times the median) with a high ratio of 1.46 billionaires per million inhabitants (4.95 times the median). The US have a high GDP per capita — 45,773 US$ — and a record 403 billionaires (1.29 per million people) with a net worth of 1,349 billion US$. Other rich nations such as Germany, France, UK or Sweden occupy good although less conspicuous places.

What may come as a surprise is the presence of so many billionaires in nations that rank among the poorest in terms of GDP per capita or of people living in "extreme poverty" — India has a GDP/capita of US$ 910 and 43.8% of the rural population living on less than US$ 1.25 per day (2004, World Bank) , China a GDP/capita of US$ 3,540 and 26.1% of rural population living under the US$ 1.25/day mark (2005, World Bank), or Indonesia with a GDP/capita of US$ 2,173 and 24.01% of rural population living under US$ 1.25/day (2005, World Bank).
posted by jaduncan at 1:25 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Live Stream from a local TV station here: WISC TV.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:29 PM on February 17, 2011


Reading about The Hortonville 84.
posted by drezdn at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2011


You're right, jaduncan, that my experience is not universal, even within the United States. But I still think it's fair to say that Fin Azvandi's comment was hyperbole and that most (modern, American) employers actually don't wish they were slaveowners. I'd even go a little further and speculate that there's a fairly broad acceptance of the idea that better-treated workers tend to produce better, though the extent to which that has affected working conditions and compensation varies considerably.
posted by nickmark at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2011


We need flyers to print that show the facts - we've got all these great links, but we need an easy to see visual of the basic budget issues (i.e. it's a hoax that there's a crisis), shows how state workers make less in wages, etc..

We also need to make ones that target them. Some that have a basic budgetary point like that, others for workers to realize what's going on in general as an attack on them.

Another to get people working across the nation together.

The web is one part, great, but I need to have a simple way that I can drop a couple of these on my boss's wifes chair and force her to see the reality of the issue instead of the bullshit FOX PRopaganda.

We're the ones with the trendy graphic designers, where the fuck are they? We need more than cutesy little ATAT Walkers.
posted by symbioid at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [17 favorites]


where the fuck are they?

We're busy working for peanuts.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


As self-perpetuating bureaucracies, all unions, especially the large ones and including my own puny one (which is affiliated with a behemoth), admittedly do have the same flaws as any political organization: mediocrity in the leadership, resistance to change and innovation, officers whose primary job is job preservation, etc.

And those things need work. But as others have said, those of us in unions -- and the vast majority of union members are actually not driving mink-lined cadillacs and drinking absinthe out of platinum flagons, btw -- know that our union, which is ourselves, en masse, is the only thing standing between us and people who mean us harm and who would happily share with us the revolting level of exploitation so many other workers experience. We would like those workers to share in our protections.

No, most American workers aren't breathing benzene fumes in sweatshops, but I am fucking astounded daily at the kind of treatment so many of them do have to tolerate. And the ones in "privileged, cushy" lines of work seem to be the most brainwashed into believing that a nice salary entitles their employers to inflict any amount of shit on them.

It is in my interests that all my fellow workers get a decent living wage, safe working conditions, hours that enable them to have lives and recharge themselves, etc. I don't want my E.R. resident to be on the 36th hour of a shift. I don't want my junior associate attorney when I'm wrongly arrested to have already racked up 90 billable hours that week.

I had an acquaintance who did some sort of systems-network-thingie for Time-Warner in Manhattan. Oooooo, big name employer, big skyscraper. And I'm sure a nice salary. But because it was a salary, no overtime. This guy would slog to the train every morning at 5 or 6, drag himself home at 7 or 8, watch Law and Order, go to bed, and do it all again. His bosses would text-message him at home on a sickday. They'd fucking stalk him on the rare vacation day. He and several of his coworkers routinely put in 60 hour weeks for no extra pay. Which fucks over not just themselves but the two or three additional full-time folks those exploitative bastards at Time-Warner would have to hire to work those hours otherwise.

So I'd say to him, "Jesus Christ, why aren't you unionized?" And he'd laugh, and I'd say, "No. Really. Why aren't you unionized? I'm aware that sitting at a computer isn't the same as crawling into a sewer pipe in February, but if you are the labor who produces the product, service, or whatever that your employers are making buttloads of money from, then you should be in a union.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [28 favorites]


Right -- I acknowledge that what I am about to say is anecdotal only, and that I'm not speaking of the AFL-CIO, but earlier today I posted a very brief "yay my union did something for me" comment and thought perhaps, in light of the whole "what do Unions do for their workers anyway" comments I'd elaborate a bit.

I'm currently semi-retired, but I was a stage manager for ten years. In brief, for those who don't know what that means -- every time you go to a play, there is one single person in charge of coordinating all of the elements that go into that show happening exactly the way that the director wanted it to happen every night -- one person in charge of making sure all the costumes are cleaned and kept in good repair, one person in charge of making sure the set gets set up properly, the sound works, the lights work, the little hand props are all where the actors can get to them, one person in charge of making sure the actors know what their cues are and fixing the fuses that blow and the sound problems that happen and taking care of weird emergencies onstage and off. That person is the stage manager. Sometimes they have a staff, but at my level most often I didn't. (If I had an assistant, I was lucky.)

Currently, 99.9% of the theater you see in New York City is either "showcase" theater -- in which we get paid absolutely diddley-squat -- or "off-Broadway," which pays only about $400 a week in take-home pay. But we get a gabillion people who want to do theater and come and show up for rehearsals anyway and would be more than happy to work themselves to death rehearsing twelve hour to make! the show! Perfect!

....aaaaaaand the directors know that.

So that's the first thing Equity does -- puts limits on how long a rehearsal can run without everyone getting a break to go pee or call their mother or just catch a breath. And they also put limits on how many days per week you can call someone into rehearsal without giving them a day off. And limits on how many hours in a row you can rehearse without giving everyone an hour to go get something to eat. I've been in rehearsal rooms where the director would have cheerfully worked the actors on one single blasted five-minute scene for three hours, if it weren't for the fact that "sorry, the Equity dinner break is coming up - we need to wrap this up now".

Safety is another thing. Actors' Equity gives actors the right to come to me and say "we're really uneasy about that stunt that the director is making us do, because we're wearing togas -- can we work something out?" It also gives me the right to tell a director that I refuse to fire a starter's pistol backstage just because he thinks that's the best way to do a proper sound effect, despite all the horror stories about Jon-Erik Hexum and Brandon Lee we tell him. (I actually, sincerely, literally once had to do that.)

I've also had Equity get my back on two very important separate occasions:

1. The last week of rehearsal before you open is when all the technical elements come together, and this is usually the busiest time for Stage Managers. A few years ago, Equity made the rule that stage managers were therefore entitled to an extra 1/6 bonus on their weeks' pay for that week. However -- lots of producers hadn't heard about this. And, lots of performers on the showcase level -- like me -- also hadn't heard about this, because we don't get affected by the showcase level. But then a couple years after the fact, I worked on somethg off-Broadway -- and to my surprise, Equity routinely keeps tabs on each company and whether it is indeed paying the stage managers this bonus. So the very first that me and my producers heard about this bonus was when Equity called me to say that they'd noticed that I hadn't received this bonus, so the producer had to give it to me that following week.

2. In 2004, I worked for someone who had some very questionable producing practices. I ended up throwing my back out two weeks before we opened and had to drop out of the project, and tried submitting a workers' comp claim. It wasn't until three months later that we found out that the guy not only hadn't APPLIED for Worker's comp, he was also trying to hide that fact, and was now trying to stick me with the bill for my treatment. Equity took over, called in a lawyer for me, and got me my health care.

3. Equity has a health coverage plan for its members that takes the bizarre employment patterns of actors and theater artists into account. I was covered for two years of health insurance based on only six months' work -- because Equity understood that those six months were, odds are, the only work I was going to GET during those two years, and it made no sense to penalize me because of my choice of profession.

And in the grand scale of theater artists, I'm really low on the totem pole. So if Equity still wanted to go to bat for me, then they are definitely in my cool book.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [35 favorites]


You're right, jaduncan, that my experience is not universal, even within the United States. But I still think it's fair to say that Fin Azvandi's comment was hyperbole and that most (modern, American) employers actually don't wish they were slaveowners. I'd even go a little further and speculate that there's a fairly broad acceptance of the idea that better-treated workers tend to produce better, though the extent to which that has affected working conditions and compensation varies considerably.

Oh yeah. But it depends how high-skilled and replacable people are. I've personally worked in a baking factory, and everyone there was on absolutely minimum wage (and often illegal immigrants who were sometimes fined or not paid) and had burn marks on their arms because the safety gloves were too short. I think it really depends on the industry, and low-skill work such as manufacturing, cleaning and agriculture often seem focussed on getting people in, working them for as little as possible, then dumping people when they get injured or burn out. That, although not slavery, is an approach that you see in many fields, and a removal of rights for some leads to a movement towards the worse end of that spectrum for other people. It's a market and a continum of good and bad practice, right?

One of the most important things about EmpressCallipygos' story there is that the theatre owners were not forced to compete against theatres with cheaper bad practice until they were forced to encoroprate the same practices to survive. The economic forces tend to trump individual ethics, and if the economic forces make lower than poverty line wages possible then this is likely to happen. At the point at which you have incredibly low wages that people must accept due to having no welfare system to speak of it's hard not to call it slavery.
posted by jaduncan at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


But their interests are not our own.

What you're arguing is that their interests are not yours, i.e., not alasdair's. To pretend that you're arguing that their interests are not "our" own is disingenuous, but then again so is much of the rest of your argument.
posted by blucevalo at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


(as in insane, I mean)

just because someone is a complete fucking idiot does not make them mentally ill... Most of the world's problems are caused and fueled by perfectly sane people.
posted by edgeways at 1:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


jaduncan: The good [teachers] often leave, because they have other options. If the pay and conditions are bad, [teachers] with choices will leave (or become ineffective due to stress). This will leave the rest, who are indeed often hard to sack.

Right, so: why can't we pay the good teachers lots more money so they don't leave? One reason is that the unions object. Why are the rest hard to sack? One reason is that the unions object.

jaduncan: [Public spending on] Education is [good for your economy]. [Public spending on] Infrastructure is [good for your economy]. Both of these things enable the private sector to function, and more importantly enable citizens to have a high quality of life.

Well, I think we could agree easily that some spending on education and infrastructure is good for your economy. But that's a weak argument for pro-union spending. Beyond a certain point public spending has very limited returns. For example, the US spends vast amount per head on education, but their education system is very poor in international terms until you get to university level, where they have a very elitist and expensive and world-class system. Infrastructure spending in the UK on education has resulted in new shiny schools with the same poor teachers and discipline problems.

More generally: if you want to spend money on infrastructure because you think it's a good way to grow the economy, do you want to spend it on union interests or actual outputs? If I accept that we want to have more state spending on infrastructure, I still don't see why your spending should be determined by union lobbying.

Gosh, yes, hurrah for the NHS. Poor Americans. But we are spending far, far more on it in absolute terms and in terms of percentage of GDP than we were a decade ago, and most of it has gone on salaries thanks to the strong unions, sorry, Colleges. Professionalism, yes. Unionisation, no. Accountants aren't unionised, but they're professional.

dinty_moore If Jane can do everything in 40 hours that Jack and do in 60 hours, then of course-keep Jane! If not and you need the extra 20 hours of work-well then, hire two employees.

But if I can't afford two employees? I mean, for any given sector, there will be profitable companies and some just getting by. But all can provide employment. If the just-getting-by guys can pay less for labour they will buy more of it to get more output. So more jobs, but less income for the people who were already employed. Good for people without jobs, not good for people with jobs. Unions represent people with jobs (see the pension changes above). But why do we favour the people with jobs over the people without jobs? I'm not getting the moral position.

Fin Azvandani The way for workers to begin balancing the power employers hold over them is to join together and negotiate as a group to protect themselves.

Right, fine, but these are public sector unions. As a taxpayer/citizen, I'm the employer. I want to have power over the workers to provide better services for less money. My interests are opposed to the unions' - not just as a selfish taxpayer, but as someone interested in the provision of public services, which if we can do at a lower cost we can do more of. No?

symbioid We need to retire EARLIER and let the work pool replenish.

Again, I'm not an economist, but I think that's fallacious. If there are only a fixed number of jobs in North America you should only have about five million of them - that's half the original population at a 50% rate of labor force participation. But there are about 200 million employed US people alone, so there are clearly more jobs because there are more people. I think of it more as "more people working = more economic activity = more demand = more jobs". I think I'm right on this.

saulgoodman State workers spend their money like everyone else, friend.

Yes, and so do corrupt state officials, and thieves. That doesn't mean that it is economically-efficient or beneficial to take money away from productive areas of the economy and give it to them. Unless, of course, you're in a depression: Keynes tells us that.

saulgoodman Employees from politically or financially well-connected families, on the other hand, can do very little and still get whatever they want. Nepotism and cronyism often have far more to do with success nowadays than meritocracy.]

OK, so why aren't unions a classic example of "who you know" rather than "what you know"? Surely the most evil capitalist boss will want to pay their meritorious employees more that their less-good employees? That makes them more money. In the union, though, should you or the guy who did the most for the union fund-raising drive and is representative to the national meeting take precedence?
posted by alasdair at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the most important things about EmpressCallipygos' story there is that the theatre owners were not forced to compete against theatres with cheaper bad practice until they were forced to encoroprate the same practices to survive. The economic forces tend to trump individual ethics, and if the economic forces make lower than poverty line wages possible then this is likely to happen.

There are non-union houses out there, but they are few and far between. I once had a conversation with an actor that was a member of a non-union theater -- but they worked exclusively with actors in their core company, all of whom had been in the same "yay we're going to be independent" company since the 60's. That theater doesn't exist any more, I think.

Also, Equity makes it possible for the little peons like me to help Equity keep tabs on the bad guys -- I wrote a niiiiice long letter to Equity after the whole "workers' comp" debacle about all the other shit I'd seen the producer pull, and they have retained that for their records in case he wanted to try producing a show again. (Which tickles me that I was literally in a position to make the threat "you'll never work in this town again" to the guy.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


just because someone is a complete fucking idiot does not make them mentally ill... Most of the world's problems are caused and fueled by perfectly sane people.

You're right, I'm sorry.
I do not wish to cast aspersions on the mentally ill.
posted by Floydd at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are non-union houses out there, but they are few and far between. I once had a conversation with an actor that was a member of a non-union theater -- but they worked exclusively with actors in their core company, all of whom had been in the same "yay we're going to be independent" company since the 60's. That theater doesn't exist any more, I think.

I really didn't know there was a non-Equity scene out there - I'm wondering if non-Equity theatres vary by state as a percentage now - but I think even those nominally independent actors were protected by health and safety rules that were largely union gains (since I have rarely seen the Chamber of Commerce pushing for further worker rights).
posted by jaduncan at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2011


I just heard there were cops handing out bratwursts to protesters...anybody see this? Wonder if it was city cops.
posted by Mngo at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


But it depends how high-skilled and replacable people are. ... It's a market and a continum of good and bad practice, right?

Absolutely.

And thanks, EmpressCallipygos, for that elaboration. Your story helped me see a couple places where I was over-generalizing based on my own experience.
posted by nickmark at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2011


Also yes, they do sound awesome. Impressively active compared to most unions, too; I haven't heard of many unions who can effectively ban management level people.

They are now also on my cool list.
posted by jaduncan at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2011


Missing Dem Senator speaks. Chris Larson is awesome, it's a shame I'm just barely outside of his district. I hope he is watching out for state troopers though.
posted by drezdn at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2011


alasdair, out of curiosity, what do you do? In general terms, do you make more or less than average? How many holiday days do you get, and how many hours do you work? Are you a worker or a manager?

You sound like someone with a lot of privilege in your society.
posted by maxwelton at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, so why aren't unions a classic example of "who you know" rather than "what you know"?

Because anyone working in a particular career field that offers union representation can join their local union.

On the other hand, it's absurd to think that, for example, Governor Rick Scott might adopt me into his family if I asked him to and then swing a series of cushy private sector gigs for me that compensate me as much as six figures for little more labor on my part than giving my employer the opportunity to drop my name in its marketing efforts. If you think I'm mistaken on that point, then maybe I'll give it a try.

Also, I suspect we have different notions about what the productive areas in an economy are.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right, so: why can't we pay the good teachers lots more money so they don't leave? One reason is that the unions object.

...because they know full well that in the absence of rigid rules about defining "good," it won't be the good teachers who are paid better. It will be the teachers that the administrators or school board likes who get paid better. And even with rigid rules about defining a "good" teacher, it will be the teachers that the administrators or school board likes who are given the tools, classes, or other opportunities that allow one to meet those criteria more easily, while teachers that the administrators or school board dislike will be shunted into classes that make it very difficult for anyone to be "good," and then purposefully denied the tools or resources they would need to be "good." Until they're so "bad" that they can be fired for it.

Why are the rest hard to sack? One reason is that the unions object.

...in no small measure because they know full well that if teachers or other civil servants aren't hard to fire, they're very likely to be fired simply because the administrators or school board personally dislike them (or their politics, or their sexual orientation, or their race, or their spouse's race), or whenever the school board election results in a serious change of its political proclivities.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Chris Larson is awesome

That's my senator!
posted by desjardins at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also yes, they do sound awesome.

My uncle was Equity, and while I never talked directly to him about it I'm fairly certain they were the reason why he had health insurance AND an apartment even while he was slowly dying of AIDS, and that his partner wasn't immediately evicted upon his eventual death. So, yeah, it's a bit more than securing cushy futures for lazy bums.

I mean, being allowed time for dinner and having an affordable place to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world? The nerve of some people!
posted by backseatpilot at 2:04 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Surely the most evil capitalist boss will want to pay their meritorious employees more that their less-good employees?

Right, this is the point at which we know you're not serious.

You can't be, right? I mean, you don't actually believe that. You can't be that dense.
posted by aramaic at 2:04 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Race to the bottom. Blame the unions and organized labor. It is disgusting that the promises made to the employees cannot be carried out due to the mismanagement of government funds.

That's the thing. Wisconsin was on target for a SURPLUS this year and this idiot came in and slashed taxes and put money into tax breaks for business, creating the "crisis."
posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


I really didn't know there was a non-Equity scene out there - I'm wondering if non-Equity theatres vary by state as a percentage now - but I think even those nominally independent actors were protected by health and safety rules that were largely union gains (since I have rarely seen the Chamber of Commerce pushing for further worker rights).

The Jean Cocteau Rep was the only one I'd heard of. However -- Union members were encouraged not to work there, because of the non-Union affiliation.

The sad thing is, you COULD probably set up a non-Union house and get random people to be in your show, because -- hey, it's acting! Who doesn't want to be a star, amirite? -- but 99% of the good people are in Actors' Equity and wouldn't be able to work for you. So either you catch them young before they join Equity and get them to work with you instead, or you work with people who don't want to join Equity for whatever reason, or...you punt.

Incidentally, the "Showcase" show I mentioned earlier is something Equity set up for non-Union actors to work on as well; it's a mish-mosh of Union and non-Union people, but is still governed by a bare minimum of Union rules, mainly involving working hours, a minimum of pay (if you work on a showcase, and you're non-Union, the company has to pay you at LEAST a reimbursement of your transportation costs to and from the theater for all rehearsals and all performances, and also has to work their rehearsals around your existing schedule).

Impressively active compared to most unions, too; I haven't heard of many unions who can effectively ban management level people.

Well, technically the guy could produce a non-Union show. But -- none of the standard venues would touch him, and no Equity actor would either.

Equity actually also has another thing they do in terms of keeping tabs on producers - I acted too late to have this happen, though Every producer puts down some kind of security deposit in order to do a show, and is supposed to get it back a couple months after the show closes; sometimes Equity will withhold it as punishment if they've been monkeying around too much. They'd already given it back to the guy by the time I contacted them, but that was okay -- I was satisfied with how the situation had resolved itself, I just wanted them to have information so he couldn't do a Union show again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on February 17, 2011


Chris Larson on Twitter: "For those looking for us, we are right here, standing with the people of Wisconsin. #solidarityWI"
posted by nickmark at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


But if I can't afford two employees? I mean, for any given sector, there will be profitable companies and some just getting by. But all can provide employment. If the just-getting-by guys can pay less for labour they will buy more of it to get more output. So more jobs, but less income for the people who were already employed. Good for people without jobs, not good for people with jobs. Unions represent people with jobs (see the pension changes above). But why do we favour the people with jobs over the people without jobs? I'm not getting the moral position.

If you can't afford to pay for the extra 20 hours of work, you shouldn't get it. Why should the owners get labor for free?

In your scenario, someone is still unemployed and out of luck. If that person had a union, maybe she'd be able to get a better unemployment package.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:11 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]




My uncle was Equity, and while I never talked directly to him about it I'm fairly certain they were the reason why he had health insurance AND an apartment even while he was slowly dying of AIDS, and that his partner wasn't immediately evicted upon his eventual death. So, yeah, it's a bit more than securing cushy futures for lazy bums.

That may also have been the Actors Fund as well; which Equity also promotes heavily. (If you've ever seen a Broadway show during their "Equity Fights AIDS" fund drive, that's the group it supports.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2011


I mean, you don't actually believe that. You can't be that dense.

Trust me, there's no point arguing with the meritocracy true believers. They have that kind of insane ideological rigidity that you can only sustain when you think you're somehow being "non-ideological."
posted by enn at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


The absent lawmakers have been found in a Rockford, Ill., hotel on Thursday, according to a Rockford TV station.

Woo! Let's send the pizza there!
posted by nickmark at 2:18 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


From Minnesota Public Radio's political blog: "Somewhat related: Minnesota Rep. Mark Buesgens filed legislation today ending public pensions for state workers.
posted by nickmark at 2:20 PM on February 17, 2011


Gosh, yes, hurrah for the NHS. Poor Americans. But we are spending far, far more on it in absolute terms and in terms of percentage of GDP than we were a decade ago, and most of it has gone on salaries thanks to the strong unions, sorry, Colleges. Professionalism, yes. Unionisation, no. Accountants aren't unionised, but they're professional.

Umm. This is getting very UKish, so I apologise for the derail since this is about WI, and the explainations are for non-UK people rather that you, alisdair. If you think the BMJ, colleges of nursing et al (medical professional bodies) are unions, I'm surprised that you don't think the ACCA (accounting body) is. They even control who can enter the profession.

My stepfather is both a UNISON (a public sector union) rep and on the financial senior management team for a major London trust (a set of hospitals), and I can assure you that spending more has resulted in materially better health outcomes and was almost all spent on increased medicine, facilities and operation slots for people rather than only wages. Because I have read the figures.

For a UK-wide sample, in March 1997, there were 1,030,947 people who’d been sitting on an NHS inpatient waiting list for more than 13 weeks. In December 2009, that was down to 57,586 people. Please don't paint the NHS unions as having just soaked up money that was intended for patients.

It also just may be that when the junior doctors won the right not to work 60+ hours a week, your healthcare chances were improved due to a decreased lack of injury due to practitioner mistake. For example.
posted by jaduncan at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


What'd be awesome would be if Illinois state workers union members were to show up with pizza and possibly human wall building potential if required.

Could you imagine, after all the various 1-day marches in DC over the past year or three, suddenly the Middle East starts showing what truely effective demonstrations are and how they work and what they do, and it sparks a full-on worker movement here in the US?
posted by hippybear at 2:22 PM on February 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


My head is spinning with all of this.
Fight WI workers, fight!
posted by Theta States at 2:27 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dunno, hippybear, I wouldn't put my money on Bears fans.
posted by desjardins at 2:29 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I mean, FIBs.
posted by desjardins at 2:29 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


FIBS! FAVORITED SOOOOOOOOOOOO HARD@!

(but honestly - remember we're in this shit together! that's one thing we gotta remember - this is across state lines. SOLIDARITY! :D :D :D)
posted by symbioid at 2:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My comment was intentionally hyperbolic, to draw attention to the fact that the original comment about employers wanting more control over their employees is, generally speaking, a bad thing in my book. The employer-employee power balance is already out of whack.
posted by Fin Azvandi at 2:34 PM on February 17, 2011


Jahaza, no, take home pay isn't everything. However, do you really think it is reasonable that an 18 year old high school graduate can make more take home pay than experienced teachers with graduate degrees?

That's a rare circumstance but I don't have a problem with that.

But let's not focus on comparing and contrasting, I think EVERYONE deserves a fair wage?

Let me ask you a question. Do you think it's the 18 year old union work who is responsible for the low wages for the teachers? In other words, do you believe it's a zero sum game?
posted by Bonzai at 2:35 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is brute force union busting for political advantage, and it's just the tip of the iceberg, it will be spreading to other states. This isn't about the budget, that's just a skimpy little g-string pretense of respectability - this is about an all-out war to win the 2012 election and achieve total political domination by the far right. How ironic - when the rest of the world is aspiring to rights and democracy, we are running as fast as we can in the other direction.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Full disclosure: I married a FIB. But we got married in Kohler, so it's alright.

Yay for Wisconsin in-jokes! WHERE'S THE BUBBLER YA HEY DER?
posted by desjardins at 2:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


God, Alisdair, you're a sea of wrongness. Others have started fisking your latest dump, but this one is particularly silly:

"Surely the most evil capitalist boss will want to pay their meritorious employees more that their less-good employees? That makes them more money."

This is the same market-reliance fallacy that assumes that a better product will succeed in the marketplace over an inferior one, whereas in reality, this simply results in a race to the bottom, where an employer will pay the lowest amount they can get away with and still make a profit.

Walmart is the obvious example. It does not make money by selling better products for more, but rather, worse products for less.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


This has all been quite confusing, because I'm a big fan of bears... but I don't think we mean the same thing.

At all.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


fatbird: Forget the unions--try giving one of your ten employees a merit raise out of line of everyone else and see how your department functions after that.

I don't know if any of my (roughly) ten employees read MetaFilter, but we do indeed pay them all differently, and give them rises out of line of each other, depending on many factors. I imagine they tell each other what they earn. I think if you are paying what people think is reasonable for their role then that's okay. (It occurs to me that you may mean "ten employees who do the same role" which, yes, would be much more tricky. I would argue that the unionized workforce would more strongly resist the attempt to pay one gal more than every other: would you really disagree with me?)

auto-correct The problem is, you're ignoring all the giant positives that unions bring to the table. Do you really want management to have complete control over workers rights?

Well, I would argue that in a strong labour market management is strongly limited by the right of workers to go off and work for someone else. Assume we're evil, and the UK repeals all its labor laws tomorrow. We still wouldn't want Fred or Wilma to leave, so we'd probably pay them what their peers get - that is, it would depend on the market, and we'd pay them and treat them the same. I guess if we were less worried about losing Barney then we might give him less of a pay rise next year, but he's probably on what's about right for his role or we've already got it all wrong. I guess if Bam-bam were an lazy idiot and we wanted rid of him, we could sack him quicker, but surely you don't think that's unreasonable, do you? If we still needed someone in Bam-bam's roles we'd recruit someone else - maybe one of the currently-unemployed and therefore unrepresented-by-a-union people.

Hmmm. Maybe this chain of argument is leading us to "unions are more important in low-paid, lousy jobs"? History would bear that out. Fair enough. Does public-sector employment count as a low-paid lousy job? I'm not sure.

nickmark [Alasdair: So the state will be paying more money into pensions, and less into current services - like nursing home inspectors.] Doesn't this implicitly assume a fixed state budget over time?

Yes, in real terms. In good years pensions generally increase ahead of inflation. Wages generally increase ahead of inflation. So the percentage never goes down, and we never suddenly have lots of spare government cash!

klangklangston: I like weekends, worker safety and higher wages. Their interests are very much my own, with only deviations in the specifics (like carpenters supporting dubious development). Unions are the rising tide that lifts all boats...

Hooray, yes. Though these are all improvements that stem from a high demand for labor, right? Weekends came in the in 1920s boom, worker safety implies there aren't lots of cheap immigrants or other races to come in to do the job, higher wages because you can't get someone else.

So I think these are all results of a tight labor market - high demand for workers, so they can command good wages and conditions. Good thing too. It's working in China now, according to some reports. And strikes and unions are pretty much illegal there. So I would agree that unions are a good way to lever existing economic conditions - high demand for labor - but aren't absolutely necessary. No union for accountants, but their pay is good. If you can run your economy with a high demand for labor, workers will get paid better.

Back to the present. With no high demand for labor, and tight public budgets, public sector unions are pushing for pay and conditions for their members. Again, I do not think their interests are the same as mine, and I do not see why I should support them.

(My problem with the Keynesian fiscal multiplier stuff is that I can't help thinking that prudence and stable finances, depressions excepted, is a better long-term policy. Sure, I'm not an economist, but lots - not all! - of them agree with me.)

FelliniBlank: I am fucking astounded daily at the kind of treatment so many of them do have to tolerate. And the ones in "privileged, cushy" lines of work seem to be the most brainwashed into believing that a nice salary entitles their employers to inflict any amount of shit on them.

That is not, on the face of it, unreasonable. My wife is not home yet from work, and it's after ten-thirty at night here in the UK (sad face). But she's a senior manager at a Big Four accountancy firm, so she's paid really very well. Is that not fair? But yes, I've suggested they (chartered accountants) unionize, and she laughs at me! We're going to spend the filthy capitalist lucre on a visit to California next week, hurrah! I don't generally think it's our place to tell other people what is important to them, and how much they should work for how much money.
posted by alasdair at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2011


"employees"

I see.
posted by symbioid at 2:46 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


worker safety implies there aren't lots of cheap immigrants or other races to come in to do the job

While I don't know enough about history to know whether there is actual basis for this statement, I think that worker safety actually implies a recognition of laborers as humans and not just grist the mill that churns their lives into business dollars.
posted by hippybear at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Q: "Whats disgusting?"

A: "UNION BUSTING!"
posted by kuatto at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


"depressions excepted"

And what, pray tell, current economic climate do you think we inhabit???
posted by symbioid at 2:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Again, I do not think their interests are the same as mine, and I do not see why I should support them.

I guess as long as you got yours eh? It seems pretty obvious the interests of people organizing a unified front against being dictated to runs counter to those who would do the dictating.
posted by edgeways at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


hippybear: While I don't know enough about history to know whether there is actual basis for this statement, I think that worker safety actually implies a recognition of laborers as humans and not just grist the mill that churns their lives into business dollars.

That would require a modification of human nature. As I understand it, worker safety mostly implies that someone forced the business owner to do it; either the workers through unionization or shopping around for better jobs, or the government through legislative action.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:51 PM on February 17, 2011


@symbioid:

I got this one.

"The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers. These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all. Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system." It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old."
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


alasdair:

C'mon, man. Just about everything you've said has been a talking point against unions since Day One. I've got news for you - there is no free-market genie. Economists make a lot of suppositions in their models - one of them is that they suppose that the market works with more (and more perfect) information than it really does. I dare you to show any correlation between taxes and employment levels in this country, for example.

We have seen, though, what business does in the absence of unions. We've seen what they've done during the great union dismantling of the last 30 years. To argue that unions are not absolutely necessary is to ignore the facts on the ground.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


I don't generally think it's our place to tell other people what is important to them, and how much they should work for how much money.

Aw, come on, you know that's really facile. It's not as if the amount of money in salaried positions goes up commensurately with the hours, the intrusion into personal life, and the stress. Yes, my systems-network-thingie friend chose his line of work, but when he signed on at his company, it was for a standard full-time job (= 40 hours in the US, usually 35-37 because of lunch breaks) for the salary. And once that starts edging its way up to 50, 55, 60, all on account of how very capable and indispensible he is, doncha know, what recourse does he have? Saying, "I'm sorry, I will not work those extra hours you expect of me? I'm going home at 5:00"?

Then he's out the door, despite being quite capable and meeting or exceeding all his job duties. This fantasy that each worker is a free and independent contractor with as much choice and power in the marketplace as an employer . . . surely anyone literate enough to get all the way through Atlas Shrugged cannot possibly buy that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


(It occurs to me that you may mean "ten employees who do the same role" which, yes, would be much more tricky. I would argue that the unionized workforce would more strongly resist the attempt to pay one gal more than every other: would you really disagree with me?)

No, I wouldn't disagree, but I would observe that in any job where differing performance in the same role leads to significant differences in outcomes, you can easily have pay differentials in the form of bonuses, commissions or other perqs (e.g., sales); where you don't have significant differences in outcome, there really shouldn't be significant differences in pay.
posted by fatbird at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2011


"Hooray, yes. Though these are all improvements that stem from a high demand for labor, right? Weekends came in the in 1920s boom, worker safety implies there aren't lots of cheap immigrants or other races to come in to do the job, higher wages because you can't get someone else. "

I do ask that you try to not be glibly ignorant in the discussion.

Weekends and the 40-hour work week came from unions striking. Worker safety came from unions striking. Higher wages came from unions striking. And the 1920s wasn't a boom — most of the 1920s were a worldwide depression that put tremendous numbers of people out of work. So, relative to supply, there wasn't a high labor demand, and that led to exploitive practices until workers organized. Perhaps instead of slagging the American educational system, you might take complain that your teachers never taught you any of this.

(My problem with the Keynesian fiscal multiplier stuff is that I can't help thinking that prudence and stable finances, depressions excepted, is a better long-term policy. Sure, I'm not an economist, but lots - not all! - of them agree with me.)"

Well, first off, businesses have a boom-and-bust cycle, so you're assuming a status quo that doesn't exist. Second off, the point of Keynesian economics is to mitigate the disruptive effects of boom-and-bust. Third off, the vast majority of economists agree with Keynes, and it's only in the last decade or so that the right has mounted an effective public relations campaign to argue against his policies; saying that "lots" of economists agree with you is rather like saying that "lots" of scientists don't believe in global warming. It's certainly true for some values of "lots," but it's a bit of rubbish to pretend that this gives your views credibility.

You should be sentenced to read the turgid and moralizing Sinclair book, The Jungle until you have a more accurate view of 1920s labor conditions.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [28 favorites]


Again, I do not think their interests are the same as mine, and I do not see why I should support them.
You're an employer, of course their interests are different from yours. If they weren't then unions wouldn't be needed.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
posted by cdward at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


That would require a modification of human nature. As I understand it, worker safety mostly implies that someone forced the business owner to do it; either the workers through unionization or shopping around for better jobs, or the government through legislative action.

Oh, I don't deny that...

But at some level, the recognition of labor as human being is at the core of any of those forcing actions. And too many seem to be willing to surrender their status as a human being deserving of dignity for the sake of a paycheck.

And that's where unions or government action come in -- if the individual doesn't think they're of worth, there are organizations out there which will help them live with worth and dignity, even if they'd possibly surrender it on their own because they don't have that same feeling of self-worth within our capitalist system.

That's a large part of why the fading union power over the past few generations saddens me. It indicates a mass surrender on behalf of the worthy humans living and working in our country. A social disease where we all are agreeing en masse that simply because we're not at the top, we don't deserve to have conditions in our lives serve us, rather than us serving the conditions.

Unions fight for that for everyone, not just their members. They just don't have much effect if people aren't union members.
posted by hippybear at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really, this Thatcherite nonsense comes down to seriously averring as moral the idea that because people would choose to be slaves rather than starve, we should create more opportunities for slavery.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [28 favorites]


Alasdair:

And by the way, unions do not work to make sure all employees -- excellent, middling, and lousy -- all make the same pay. They work to make sure that employees get pay increases based on fair, published, and agreed-upon criteria.

I was hired into my position 20 years ago with 7 other entry-level colleagues, and we have all been members of our union for those two decades. Right now, among that group, who all started at just about the same pay (small variations depending on our qualifications at time of hiring) there's probably a $20,000 range between the highest and lowest paid. I am probably the lowest paid member of the cohort, which is fine by me

Why? Because some have been promoted more or received more merit increases than others -- because they achieved more than others. Our union and its members have no problem with this because the rules for how these individual pay increases are given are negotiated. What we would have a problem with is the capricious, secretive, arbitrary, and otherwise screwed-up way that "merit" increases would be handed out in the absence of a bargaining unit.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:07 PM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Think_Long: "They aren't affected under Walker's proposal. Theyre exempt, but still led the charge into the capitol building. Because eventually they'll be next.

exactly. It's that "first they came for the Jews, but I did not speak up for I am not a Jew" thing
"

The canonical version of that quote involves "communists", "trade unionists", "jews", and "me".


jaduncan: "Twenty-one percent of US manufactured office furniture is produced by prison labor.

Minimum estimate of annual value of prison and jail industrial output exceeded $2 billion dollars in 2006 with FPI accounting for over a quarter of that amount. In 2009, FPI reported sales of $885 million. The minimum wage paid at a UNICOR plants is $0.23 an hour. By way of comparison, the minimum wage paid in Haiti is $0.30 an hour while the average hourly earnings of a non-prisoner U.S. worker making office furniture: $13.04.

Nevada pays its prison work force $0.13 an hour. Georgia and Texas do not pay a wage at all.
"

But we can't increase public sector wages because that would be "unfair competition with the private sector".



alasdair: "Surely the most evil capitalist boss will want to pay their meritorious employees more that their less-good employees?"

As a counterexample I offer the entire history of capitalism.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


I don't generally think it's our place to tell other people what is important to them, and how much they should work for how much money.
But it is you place to tell us how we can organize? Thanks for nothing, Mrs. Gaskell. I hope that when you are enjoying California, you get a chance to appreciate the many sacrifices that union workers have made to keep that beautiful state going. Maybe learn a thing or two about Chinese and Mexican laborers, who were killed so often to build its railroads and roads before the advent of effective worker protections.
posted by pickypicky at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


"cheap immigrants or other races to come in to do the job"

You might want to consider that form of wording, just fyi.
posted by jaduncan at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, what would you do alasdair if your employees formed a union?
posted by chugg at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently Obama's campaign apparatus, Organizing for America, is getting involved in the fight in Wisconsin, as well as gearing up for fights in Ohio and Indiana. I'm quite pleased to see this.
posted by Weebot at 3:30 PM on February 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


Wait, what? The DNC is moving to shore up organized labor? Like, for real?

*holds onto desk, reality wobbles a bit*

Is this what it feels like when Democrats grow a backbone?
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


maxwelton alasdair, out of curiosity, what do you do? In general terms, do you make more or less than average? How many holiday days do you get, and how many hours do you work? Are you a worker or a manager?

I'm enormously privileged, and make between two and three times the mean for the UK - over $100,000 per annum. I'm a manager, but not an equity owner. I don't think that makes my arguments invalid: my workforce isn't unionised. But of course my position will color my arguments, you're right. Do point out where I'm wrong.

saulgoodman [Alasdair: OK, so why aren't unions a classic example of "who you know" rather than "what you know"?] Because anyone working in a particular career field that offers union representation can join their local union.

Ah, there's the rub, unions generally restrict entrance to their profession, which drives up wages above what the market would pay. For example, Equity has come up in this thread as a good union, and I don't disagree. However, I think I'm correct in saying that you can't join Equity until you are a professional theater (TV, film...) person, and if your local town is a closed shop and you will "never work in this town again" if you are not an Equity member... well, you see? You can't get work in the industry until you join the union, and you can't join the union until you work in the union - so the union decides who gets to join, and who gets to have that career. If that isn't "who you know" what is? (How do I get an Equity card?)

Again, unions are effective organisations for their members' interests. My interests (more, cheaper theater, for example) are not the same as their own (more pay for theater people). I do not see why I should support them.

ROU_Xenophone: I can't believe that we must tolerate rubbish teachers, or refuse to pay great teachers enough, because we cannot come up with some way to identify them. We are smart people. If we really can't do this, then we might as well abandon public school education, really.

aramaic [Alasdair: Surely the most evil capitalist boss will want to pay their meritorious employees more that their less-good employees?] Right, this is the point at which we know you're not serious. You can't be, right? I mean, you don't actually believe that. You can't be that dense.

Erm. Well. I'm an evil capitalist boss, and I want to pay my meritorious employees more than my less-good employees.

dinty_moore If you can't afford to pay for the extra 20 hours of work, you shouldn't get it. Why should the owners get labor for free?

I can afford to pay, but only at the rate charged by John. If labor regulations mean I'm restricted to employing Jane, that's fine. But you must realise that you're favoring Jane over John, then. Now, there are a whole host of other factors in the equation, but my point is that something that looks on the face of it an untrammelled good for all workers - 40 hour week! - is actually favoring one group - people only able/willing to work 40 hours - over another group - people able/willing to work 40+ hours.

We often seem to have conversations about public policy where we don't think through the side-effects and unintended consequences, and I think this is one. This is fresh in my mind because of the recent protests in the Arab states and recent figures on unemployment amongst young people in the UK. Egypt, for example, has been quite successful in many development measures recently, like perinatal mortality and literacy. But it hasn't provided opportunity and ways into the economy for young people, its stuck to a sclerotic and subsidised system that's rewarded existing powerful cliques, and the youth has revolted.

Now, I think I'm over-egging the pudding here. But am I making my point? Interventions in the market, such as those promoted by unions, are not free of negative consequences for some groups. Interventions promoted by unions tend to favor their members, quite right too. But I don't see why I should support them.

This has been interesting, thank-you, but wife is finally home, so cheerio!
posted by alasdair at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2011


Apparently Obama's campaign apparatus, Organizing for America, is getting involved in the fight in Wisconsin, as well as gearing up for fights in Ohio and Indiana. I'm quite pleased to see this.

Finally.
posted by jaduncan at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fred or Wilma, Barney, Bam-bam

I see your problem right there, alasdair. You're stuck in the Stone Age.
posted by Floydd at 3:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Egypt, for example, has been quite successful in many development measures recently, like perinatal mortality and literacy. But it hasn't provided opportunity and ways into the economy for young people, its stuck to a sclerotic and subsidised system that's rewarded existing powerful cliques, and the youth has revolted.

Your words give me hope for the future of the US.

How long would you say this took to develop? What should I be doing during its gestation here to help guide it toward the broadest possible range of participants? How can I otherwise perhaps help speed up the impending youth revolt? I'd like to see this done in my lifetime, if necessary....
posted by hippybear at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


*grrr* "if possible...."
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2011


"For example, Equity has come up in this thread as a good union, and I don't disagree. However, I think I'm correct in saying that you can't join Equity until you are a professional theater (TV, film...) person, and if your local town is a closed shop and you will "never work in this town again" if you are not an Equity member... well, you see? You can't get work in the industry until you join the union, and you can't join the union until you work in the union - so the union decides who gets to join, and who gets to have that career. If that isn't "who you know" what is?"

Actually, as is the pattern, you're incorrect, based on my experience with equity shops here in the US, and with what I know about SAG here in town. You get "equity" by appearing in or working on equity productions, based on the number of hours that you work on them. You can also get equity credit for working in non-equity productions if some of the members of the production are equity and the production is put on according to equity labor rules (this was my experience working lighting in Ann Arbor). In practice, this means that the barrier to getting equity is not "who you know," but rather your ability to work hard and competently (though "who you know" seems an odd complaint to have about theater work in general, since castings are much more based on personal relationship than equity status, at least in my limited experience). For a SAG card, non-SAG members get credit based on being in SAG productions for having speaking roles, which generally means being an extra with a line or two.

So, for both equity and SAG, you get your union status by doing entry level work on union productions, and being able to move beyond entry-level work (since both equity and SAG assume a level of competence higher than entry-level).
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]




While I'm glad that the DNC is finally doing something, and we need all the support we can get, this reeks to me more of electoral politicking and vote-getting attempts. Kudos to them, but they'd best realize that this is bigger than that. I have a feeling they don't, and if they don't learn, their ass will learn soon enough.
posted by symbioid at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


oops, meant to show that was a quote from the link
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2011


Walker to propose $1 billion cut to education: MPS [Milwaukee Public Schools] would lose up to 25% of its funding. He plans on refusing Federal Title I money (ie. money for school districts with a large amount of poor students). I wonder if he doesn't realize how many rural (republican) people will be hurt by this.
posted by drezdn at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bonzai: "But let's not focus on comparing and contrasting, I think EVERYONE deserves a fair wage?

Let me ask you a question. Do you think it's the 18 year old union work who is responsible for the low wages for the teachers? In other words, do you believe it's a zero sum game?
"

We don't disagree. I believe everyone deserves a fair wage. Hell, I'll even let CEOs and business owners make a fair profit, at least until the revolution.

I was replying to someone else's comment that implied that the only reason Steve got paid so much was because of the UAW.

The teachers were late to unionize and therefore, got lower pay and treated poorly. One of the most poorly paid professions out there is public library librarians. Almost none are union, and when was the last time you heard of a librarian striking?

Workers have to stand up for themselves, and the only way to do that is to organize. That doesn't necessarily mean a union, but that is the usual pattern.
posted by QIbHom at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


"My interests (more, cheaper theater, for example) are not the same as their own (more pay for theater people). I do not see why I should support them."

Your interests are cheaper theater; their interests are better theater and a living wage for theater workers. You should support their interests because cheaper theater is by no means better theater, and because morally, they're human beings and deserve fair wages.

If you don't, you're kind of a twat, frankly.

"an untrammelled good for all workers - 40 hour week! - is actually favoring one group - people only able/willing to work 40 hours - over another group - people able/willing to work 40+ hours."

No, John is still able to work more than 40 hours. He just can't work more than 40 hours for you. Again, why should you get that labor at a lower rate? Exploiting a free rider problem is not a moral right.
posted by klangklangston at 3:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


Democratic Senator Lena Taylor on Facebook: "brb"
posted by auto-correct at 4:00 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


klangklangston, whenever he's called on facts he just ignores it. Just look at the thread.
posted by jaduncan at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can afford to pay, but only at the rate charged by John. If labor regulations mean I'm restricted to employing Jane, that's fine. But you must realise that you're favoring Jane over John, then.

Yeah, there are people who want to be exploited for 70+ hour weeks for low pay and benefits! Why won't you let me help them get what they want?

Because then how would anyone else who didn't want to be your wage-slave ever compete? If you don't want sweat shops to be the norm, you have to draw the line even if there are people so desperate they would take it. You're arguing that you should be allowed to take advantage of those desperate people all you want? They're offering, right? Maybe John is a 15-year-old from a poor family willing to work on asbestos removal for 18 hours a day with no PPE, too. Should we let you do that? Or should we make you hire Jane instead, who wants appropriate safety gear and working hours that let her take care of her home life and still have a job, like she needs to?

So yeah. I'm favoring Jane, and all the Janes. Not over John, though it's unfortunate if he's in such a spot that he would work for you. I'm favoring Jane over YOU (generic you, the employers, not you, alasdair, who I don't even know), who would seek out all the Johns to hire, to save a few bucks instead of paying a Jane.
posted by ctmf at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


Democratic Senator Lena Taylor on Facebook: "brb"

"So they must no longer be in the state, because when you think Wisconsin, you think danger."
posted by spinifex23 at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2011


He's going to refuse Title I monies?

Okay, that's just the complete embodiment of stupid.

Title I is awesome. I worked as a Title I educational assistant for four and a half years.

Our elementary school was an interesting one -- located just outside of the main urban area, it was home to two main student populations -- very wealthy country club types, and very poor mostly hispanic trailer park renters. There were a few middle class neighborhoods in there, but not many. It's was sort of southern New Mexico's version of the exurbs. Although in this case, the drive into town was about 25 minutes.

Anyway, the Title I program at that school had just sprung into existence the year I was hired, and there was a lot of skepticism of the idea of having a Title I presence in the school at all, coming from both the CC parents, and from the faculty. Didn't having Title I in the school mean it was failing educationally? Didn't it label the school a low-income school? Wasn't it somehow a huge ego blow to have this happening at all?!?!?

What most of the casual school-concerned public doesn't realize is how detailed Title I grants have to be written, or had to back then (maybe still are). You have to plan out ahead of time how the program will be structured, and provide evidence for why that structure will work in that particular school. You have to design a program which can prove results. This isn't really "teaching to the test", or it wasn't the way we structured our program. But once you choose to use a testing tool... say for reading level... you have to keep using that tool from that point on or else provide evidence in how using a new test can easily be converted/compared to older test scores.

Our particular program worked with entire first grade classes, as a large boost to reading proficiency across the school population, plus pull-out intensive instruction with 2nd through 5th graders. (There was no 6th grade at this school.) We coordinated with classroom teachers to find a time when pull-out would be least disruptive to core curriculum and at the same time least impacting to non-core instruction, such as art or music.

We used our Title I funds to provide for family school fun nights, to try to involve non-involved parents with their children's education in a way which they would find agreeable. We pulled every last thread out of our yearly allotment by shopping carefully and deliberately for our lab supplies. If a student really really loved a certain book, we made sure to find a way to give away a copy, because nothing encourages reading like having a favorite book at home.

Additional funds were sought, local business partners were found, and new programs were created, like a computer take-home program for students who didn't need pull-out classroom work but who could benefit from a bit more study. (This was the mid-90s -- computers weren't nearly as ubiquitous then.)

All the Title I schools in our district worked this way. I've never seen such a devoted group of teachers and assistants, all working so hard with such a shoestring of a budget to make sure that every child left their school able to read and do math at a level appropriate to their grade level. I went to a couple of professional conferences during my time and learned that it was not unusual, the passion and willingness to work hard with government funds to make schools successful. Teachers were doing it under Title I funding all across the country. It was astounding and inspiring.

If Walker is refusing Title I funding, he's a man functioning in a complete bubble of ideological haze, and hasn't taking the time to really look at what is being accomplished with these well-used federal funds. He's slitting his own throat.

I hope parents in the state will take some time to learn whether their children are in Title I schools, and what exactly Title I is doing in their school, and then take a hard stand against him in this foolish hardline stance.
posted by hippybear at 4:20 PM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


For example, Equity has come up in this thread as a good union, and I don't disagree. However, I think I'm correct in saying that you can't join Equity until you are a professional theater (TV, film...) person, and if your local town is a closed shop and you will "never work in this town again" if you are not an Equity member... well, you see? You can't get work in the industry until you join the union, and you can't join the union until you work in the union - so the union decides who gets to join, and who gets to have that career. If that isn't "who you know" what is?

Alasdair: in the first place, if you are going to be discussing United States issues, I would ask that you kindly reference sites that refer to UNITED STATES incarnations of things. The Equity in the UK and the Equity rules in the US are different. Not markedly so, but still different.

Now then.

There are 2 ways to join Actors' Equity in the United States.

1.) Pay the initial entry fee. This is rather costly, but if you really want to join this Union that badly, you can.

2.) Be a theater professional -- either actor or stage manager -- whom an all-Union show wants to work with so much that they will pay that entry fee for you. This is how I got my membership.

So in theory, if you really wanted to join Equity without being a professional theater person -- I suppose you could, although I'm a bit confused as to why you would want to, because I'm not certain how its services could befit you if you were, say, a pipefitter.

Secondly: no "local town" is "a closed shop" when it comes to Equity. Anyone can mount a production without going through Equity. Technically, the only problem you would run into would be that Equity people aren't supposed to work in your production. If you still want nothing to do with Equity, you still have the right to mount a show without using Equity talent. You would get people to work for you nevertheless -- the lure of the stage is strong. They may not be all that talented, but you'd find people to work with.

Thirdly -- it isn't true that "you can't get work until you join the union" because -- as I have stated earlier, Equity makes it possible for a producer to mount a show that uses Equity and non-Equity actors both, in the same production. I was a working stage manager -- as in, I was receiving pay for my services -- for about four years before I got my Equity card. And I was working on Equity-approved shows even though I was not a Union member. And Equity's rules regarding working hours, pay, etc. STILL protected me, even though I was not a Union member. So it's not accurate to say"you can't get work until you join the Union."

My interests (more, cheaper theater, for example) are not the same as their own (more pay for theater people). I do not see why I should support them.

Actually, Equity also sets a maximum for ticket prices for certain contracts. It's the tradeoff-- if a producer wants to do the cheap-and-dirty showcase code, so they don't have to pay the cast any more than $100 per person? Then the producer can only charge $20 per ticket. So you say you want cheap theater? Equity's arranged it for you as well.

(folds arms) Any other complaints?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's going to refuse Title I monies?

I heard he also kicks puppies.
posted by desjardins at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I heard he also kicks puppies.

At the rate he's going, he'll have to skullfuck a kitten to death on the state capitol's rotunda floor to top what he's got going on now.
posted by fatbird at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Don't tempt him.
posted by desjardins at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Senate adjourned until tomorrow. Republicans can go get their beauty sleep. It would be funny if one of the Dems snuck back in during the night.
posted by desjardins at 4:40 PM on February 17, 2011


Oh yeah, I want them to stop back and pose for a photo with a copy of today's paper before spiriting off again to an undisclosed-ish location.
posted by quin at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Alisdair, the mistake you are making is comparing unions to unicorns and rainbows rather than to real-world situations without unions.

I worked really hard as a public school teacher. By the end of my first year teaching I had tripled enrollments in physics at the high school, and my AP students were doing well on the AP exam. In the final few days of that school year I got a letter saying I was fired. Furious, I went in to the principal's office and demanded to know what was going on. He told me to relax, the school district fires all of their first year teachers at the end of the year, and then rehires the number they need once they know what the budget is going to be in late July. With six years of schooling and a state certification, and having left a much more lucrative engineering career, I was expected to wait around for 3 months hoping I would still have a job.

This is what it is like to be a schoolteacher in a non-union district -- stories like mine are a dime a dozen. Teachers have fuck-all to say about their working conditions, and the district feels no compunction about treating them like shit, even if it means they are going to lose good teachers. Your naive Ayn Rand fantasies about free-market meritocracies notwithstanding, quality instruction is not an overarching goal of school district administrations, nor is it an automatic outcome of the elimination of unions.
posted by Killick at 4:46 PM on February 17, 2011 [41 favorites]


symbioid: Of course there is going to be politicking in a political fight. That's not what's so notable about OFA's involvement. What's notable is that they are:

A) Taking on a state-level fight when OFA has pretty much kept to federal issues. They were relatively quiet when SB1070 was winding its way through the AZ legislature, to compare.

B) Taking on it aggressively, devoting a lot of resources, even after recently going through a round of lay-offs.

C) Willing to nationalize the issue, even getting Obama to comment on it to a local affiliate, which makes can make the politics of this even more volatile. But they may have thought that was inevitable.

While a lot of this can be explained by the political incentives -- making amends with labor, developing a volunteer base in two swing states, making sure labor isn't defanged for the 2012 election -- a lot of that seems more incidental. It's still not immediately clear why they decided to really fight here compared to other state-level fights. The same incentives existed for the AZ immigration fight, but Obama and the Democrats chose to do most of that fighting after passage and with the DOJ.
posted by Weebot at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just made a huge mistake and read some of the Fox News site coverage. I suspect my eyeballs may be bleeding from rage.

I would like to support these Wisconsin (and Ohio) (and New Jersey) teachers. Does anyone have suggestions? I am married to a teacher and I wish I could demonstrate solidarity somehow.
posted by theredpen at 4:54 PM on February 17, 2011


Your interests are cheaper theater; their interests are better theater and a living wage for theater workers. You should support their interests because cheaper theater is by no means better theater, and because morally, they're human beings and deserve fair wages.

If you don't, you're kind of a twat, frankly.


Now, now. What have you got against twats? (I don't call people dicks anymore for the same reason). Assholes, now....
posted by emjaybee at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2011


Sorry I haven't read this entire fast moving thread, but in the off chance that there are any Wisconsin Democratic State Senators on MeFi, I live in the U.P., about 15 miles west of Marquette, so we are far enough over the WI line that I doubt anyone would look for you here. We have comfy, empty bunkbeds. The sheets are even clean. My husband is damn fine cook, and we'd be happy to put you up until this gets sorted out.

God bless the Unions. The only times in my life that I've ever managed to claw my way into even the lower middle class is because of them.
posted by Leta at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Scott Walker is attempting a power grab unprecedented in Wisconsin history. Part of what he wants is to assume total control over HHS. This strikes very close to home for me as my son is Autistic and receives care through the long-term care waiver.That man isn't qualified to make decisions about the long-term care of a dog much less the elderly or disabled of this state.

The "funniest" part of this whole thing is that Walker is a career politician who has been suckling at the taxpayer teat for the last 17 years. Not only is he an idiot but a hypocrite as well.

P.S. My wife wants me to let everyone know she wants to kick Scott Walker's ass.
posted by MikeMc at 5:12 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Leta - they are apparently staying at the clock tower hotel in Rockford, where the Van Galder bus stops on the way to and from Chicago.

I once interviewed Fred Risser (one of the 19 Democratic state senators currently in Rockford) in what was basically a broom closet recording studio under the ferocious glare of a single 100 watt halogen bulb hanging 18" above our heads. We sat with our knees almost touching for a good 20 minutes as he spoke articulately about his hopes and dreams for his next term in office. The man has worked for the people of Wisconsin tirelessly since 1956. He is amazing.
posted by ChrisHartley at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unions are a win win for both sides. Union or no union, my leverage is to just walk away from a job. If there's a union that has the power to negotiate on i. member's behalf, then a fair price for the labor of the existing workforce can be reached, and both sides are freed from uncertainty for the length of the contract (and look how badly the stock market reacts to uncertainty!). That's a win win.

Now if there's no union, there's no feedback. The market is operating with worse information. It will be more inefficient. Instead of negotiation, you end up with a game of brinksmanship. The employer makes their best guess at to what the market will bear, and if they guess low, they end up with their good folks finding a new job or retiring early, and end up with the bottom of the barrel for new hires. Cut education spending and, one way or another, the kids will bear the cost.

Heck, teachers already make less than average for someone with a master's degree. No idealized economically rational person would become a teacher anywhere in this country at the current pay scale. Most teachers do so because they feel a sense of obligation to the next generation. And the public benefits greatly from that. Taking advantage of a person's generosity and then giving back only what cold, calculating economics requires of you is a dick move. So stand up for your teachers, stand up for education, and stand up for your children and their future.
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:30 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was disappointed to see alasdair's original question go unanswered except for a couple personal attacks, and I was even more disappointed that he revealed himself to be the stereotypical union-hating upper-middle-class bossman.

I'm a union supporter in the private sector (e.g. I'm sticking with AT&T vs Verizon because it's a union shop) but I'm honestly conflicted about public sector unions. The biggest problem is that they spend their members' dues in political campaigns, i.e. to help elect management. This in turn gives them leverage to get sweeter and sweeter deals, which is devastating to state budgets when it comes to funding the retirement plans.

What can be done to fix these retirement plans? Democrats won't touch the issue due to re-election fears, and Republicans actually hate unions in general so they can't be trusted to stop at pensions.
posted by danblaker at 5:32 PM on February 17, 2011


P.S. My wife wants me to let everyone know she wants to kick Scott Walker's ass.

Well there's Scott Walker and there's Scott Walker.
posted by philip-random at 5:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to leave this and this and this here.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:38 PM on February 17, 2011


> "Now, I think I'm over-egging the pudding here. But am I making my point? Interventions in the market, such as those promoted by unions, are not free of negative consequences for some groups. Interventions promoted by unions tend to favor their members, quite right too."

I just want to say, as a (until now) bystander in this discussion, that I appreciate the way you've patiently articulated your points here; it's nice to see calm, rational discussion from both sides.

A lot of people here are trying to convince you that unions are actually good for everyone (and I will admit, I agree with them), but I concede it as a debatable point. I think you are making your point, yes, that certain union actions serve their members interest and naturally work against the interest of their employer. In the case of public workers, that's "us" (although it's important to remember that it's also "them"), the taxpayers.

So, coming from that angle I think my response to your last point ("But I don't see why I should support them.") would be to ask myself: am I dedicated to being 100% self-serving at all times? I can support the unions of public workers because I feel it's the right thing to do, even if it may "cost" me a bit more in the end.
posted by aganders3 at 5:39 PM on February 17, 2011


I'm convinced that this guy is an idiot but, from a philosophical viewpoint, if you really believe that the government should not be involved in education then it becomes morally very easy to turn down funds and essentially try to destroy the existing educational system.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2011


"This in turn gives them leverage to get sweeter and sweeter deals, which is devastating to state budgets when it comes to funding the retirement plans."

Bigger factors in state budgets versus entitlement spending are that the housing market and Wall Street collapse gutted pension funds, and that most states don't use standard accounting practices, allowing them to count money set aside for pensions as assets held (and fungible) without counting the future debt incurred by the entitlement.

There was a move to change that on the federal level with social security, where social security would be put in a "lockbox," but the American people decided that prosperity would never end and that they were exceptions to the boom and bust so they could give tax rebates instead.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


LastOfHisKind: "I'm convinced that this guy is an idiot but, from a philosophical viewpoint, if you really believe that the government should not be involved in education then it becomes morally very easy to turn down funds and essentially try to destroy the existing educational system"

Where does being a total jerk start and being mentally ill begin? It's like the whole "are they stupid or evil" thing.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:43 PM on February 17, 2011


There was a move to change that on the federal level with social security, where social security would be put in a "lockbox,"

And then instead of debating lockboxes, the media just mocked the term.
posted by drezdn at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2011


I was disappointed to see alasdair's original question go unanswered except for a couple personal attacks, and I was even more disappointed that he revealed himself to be the stereotypical union-hating upper-middle-class bossman.

What question? There were about three or four vague semi-questions floating around in there. If the question was whether unions represent the "pleading of special interests," well, you've answered the question yourself by saying that alasdair proved himself to be a "union-hating upper-middle-class bossman."

I also don't quite follow the strategy of insisting that one group of unions -- private unions -- are somehow free of corruption, or special interest-pleading, or what have you, whereas public sector unions are somehow drowning in it. Republicans are not going after public sector unions because they're interested in reform, and if you think that the Republican Party doesn't have a long-term eye on the possibility of doing whatever it can do to chip away at the Wagner Act, with public sector unions as the first target because they're the easiest target, you've got another thing coming.
posted by blucevalo at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe:
...because they know full well that in the absence of rigid rules about defining "good," it won't be the good teachers who are paid better. It will be the teachers that the administrators or school board likes who get paid better...

Why are the rest hard to sack? One reason is that the unions object.

...in no small measure because they know full well that if teachers or other civil servants aren't hard to fire, they're very likely to be fired simply because the administrators or school board personally dislike them...


It's not a dichotomy. That there is a lot of ground between "evil capitalists will exploit us all!" and "no one can EVER be rewarded or fired." The extremely low dismissal rate of teachers as cited in Waiting for Superman (I've not seen anyone counter them) would seem to indicate that there's too many bad workers being kept around. And that's bad because it burns out the good teachers, hurts the kids, and gives the union a very bad face to the general public.

An environment with no performance incentives or penalties stagnates fast. I'm currently working in such a government job quite similar to the ones discussed in this post. Previously I worked in a wide variety of commercial institutions of various sizes and fields, and while they all had their own problems with bad workers, none of them were anywhere near as bad as what I see here. I'm quite opposed to the governor's proposal and I'm quite in favour of collective bargaining, I just want that bargaining to be about creating good jobs for good workers. Not making a situation no one can be fired without a man year's worth of work on the part of management.

One of the problems that makes schoolteachers' unions different than EmpressCallipygos' is that Equity has an incentive not only to protect the workers but to make sure that theatres stay in business as well. Because flat out school failure/shudowns are so very uncommon, the union doesn't need to worry about them staying open in the same way, which creates perverse incentives.

Another key difference is that (in my experience), theatre jobs involve a lot of changing between different locations and groups - the market actually works here to prevent stagnation because chronic underperformers simply won't get gigs. Safety concerns are also different with stage work than white collar work - an unsafe rigger can kill but a bad teacher can't. I've seen someone fired on the spot on an IATSE call for doing something obviously bad and dangerous that put himself and others at risk.
posted by Candleman at 6:04 PM on February 17, 2011


Candleman: but that's not what Scott's trying to do; he is trying to strip the unions of their power to collectively bargain. If he was interested in trying to get some sort of union reform, that could be something he could put on the bargaining table. "Come up with a system that rewards good teachers while making it easier to remove bad teachers" He is refusing to bargain. He's burning down the house to get rid of a rat. This is not about "reforming" unions; it is about destroying unions.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where are all these massive benefits I'm supposed to be getting from our union? It sounds like I should have a huge salary, free insurance, and state-funded pension plans out the yin-yang. I must have misplaced all those things. I did find a tiny salary compared to all the computer programmers I know, exorbitant and constantly rising insurance costs, and a self-funded pension plan. I'll have to look harder now that I know my necessarily crooked union has been buying off so many politicians for me.
posted by theredpen at 6:16 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


(folds arms) Any other complaints?

That was so hot!
posted by mikelieman at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was a move to change that on the federal level with social security, where social security would be put in a "lockbox," but the American people decided that prosperity would never end and that they were exceptions to the boom and bust so they could give tax rebates instead.

Actually, most people voted for the lockbox guy.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now, I think I'm over-egging the pudding here.

Jesus christ do you have a monocle too?!?!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:42 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


" The extremely low dismissal rate of teachers as cited in Waiting for Superman (I've not seen anyone counter them)

How about the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics' 2007-2008 Schools and Staffing Survey?

Here's the rundown for the tenure and dismissal statistics for the U.S.
Average number of teachers per district: 211.4
Average number of teachers dismissed for poor performance per district: 4.4
Average number of non tenured teachers dismissed per district: 1.4
Average number of tenured teachers dismissed per district: 3.0

If I do the math right that's a 2% dismissal rate per year with most of 'em being tenured.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's going on at the Capitol this evening: tons of people both inside and outside the building. Lots of American flags and Badger gear. No visible conflict between protestors and police. The firefighters' bagpipe band circles Capitol Square to racuous applause, drawing attention away from the Democratic Assembly Rep speaking at the rally. Enthusiastic but somehow mellow atmosphere -- lots of people drifting in and out to get a coffee or a sandwich. Most of the stores on State Street have "Solidarity" signs in the window, whether in actual solidarity or to drum up business I can't tell. No visible Walker supporters anywhere. One sign -- but only one -- reading "I'm a Republican against this bill." Students at Mifflin and Pinckney are gathering signatures for recall petitions for state reps who voted for the bill. Funny sign: "Scotty Doesn't Know!"

Still 200 people waiting to testify about the effects of the bill at the public hearing to three bleary-looking Democratic Assembly Reps in a cramped, sweaty conference room on the third floor of the Capitol. The public hearing has been going on since Monday. High school and college students talked while I was there. The now-deceased former principal of Madison East HS was invoked. Apparently he used to carry a baseball bat around. Many in the room seemed to be familiar with him. Chanting, cheering crowds in the Capitol Rotunda. Just behind the balcony there's an unmanned "Information Station" -- a sign there says that not only the 14 Democrats but 2 Republican senators have left the state. No one seems to know whether this is really true; it seems unlikely.

Some rumors of a UW walkout today, but campus seemed pretty normal. Lots of school districts around the state closed today, instruction day will be made up next week in place of a scheduled off-day.
posted by escabeche at 6:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Candleman: but that's not what Scott's trying to do; he is trying to strip the unions of their power to collectively bargain.

I get that. That's why I already said I disagree with him and that I'm in favour of collective bargaining.

What I don't agree with is the unpleasant groupthink that the thread has become - I love MetaFilter because it usually has some of the best comment threads of the news aggregation sites. This thread has basically been a leftist version of RedState.com, full of personal attacks and misinterpretations. Is calling someone a twat (or asshole, if preferred) for engaging in the basics of capitalism (which just about everyone here believes in and has benefited from) really the best of the web?

Unions and employee groups have done very valuable work and will continue to do so, but they have some housecleaning to do if they're going to be effective and accepted.
posted by Candleman at 6:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It makes me depressed when I think about how conservative this whole country is. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only real human left on earth while everyone else has turned into a zombie."

Oh, come on... conservatives don't like brains!
posted by markkraft at 7:04 PM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The US media seems to be focused more on the fact that "omg the Democrats left the bldg!" rather than framing the real meat of the issue - a pro-labor protest against what seems to be an obvious power grab. Small blogs are really looking at this, big media notsomuch. Its so hard these days to calibrate my "Big Deal Meter." This feels like a big deal, I certainly hope it doesn't fizzle out.
posted by jnnla at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Esca, thanks for the deets from this evening, since a lot of us have to be away. There was a walkout called for 10am this morning. Campus was a ghost town in places at least. Snow day for some, but a lot of amazing participation, too.
posted by Mngo at 7:08 PM on February 17, 2011


Oh, come on... conservatives don't like brains!

Rotting brains, on the other hand....
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:10 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I am not a big fan of tenure.

Unions? Yes, big huge YES. Tenure? Not so much.

So when people criticize the state of schools, and blame tenure, I think, ah, maybe. I'm certainly willing to listen to the point being made. But if they blame unions? I totally shut down. I want unionized schools, I think we need unionized schools. More to the point, what percentage of unionized workers have tenure? A pretty small percentage. Tenure doesn't have much to do with unionization in general.

So if you want to hate on tenure, no skin off my nose. But don't conflate tenure with unionization, or the ability to bargain collectively. They aren't the same thing.
posted by Leta at 7:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The extremely low dismissal rate of teachers as cited in Waiting for Superman (I've not seen anyone counter them)

WEAC, the Wisconsin State Teacher's Union, actually announced a proposal that would make it easier to dismiss bad teachers, but not many people (who aren't employed by/related to teachers) know about it.
posted by drezdn at 7:17 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You should be sentenced to read the turgid and moralizing Sinclair book, The Jungle until you have a more accurate view of 1920s labor conditions.

Also strongly recommended: Michael Harrington's The Other America, which is a much more recent (1962, heh!) take on poverty and the working class in America.

But it's more relevant today than it ever was, what with the rapidly vanishing middle class and "American Dream" and all.

Yeah, Unions in America have a troubled history, especially during the 70s and 80s - but without them, you wouldn't have a 40 hour work week, health insurance (if any) or any of the other so-called luxurious "perks" that we now take for granted as the signs of a sane and fair employer.

Unions are ultimately on your side. Well, unless you're a ridiculously wealthy capitalist who owns the factories. In which case: Can I have a job?
posted by loquacious at 7:18 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Zalzidrax
If I do the math right that's a 2% dismissal rate per year with most of 'em being tenured.

Your link got munged, but I assume you're referring to http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009320.pdf?

Table 8 which notes "Interpret data with caution. The standard error for this estimate is equal to 30 percent or more of the estimate's value."?

Also, that data blends together union and non-union data, lists average rather than median, and doesn't have anything to compare them to (such as what rates private schools have in the same measurements).
posted by Candleman at 7:23 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Realized I screwed up my link, try this: 2007-2008 SASS
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:23 PM on February 17, 2011


Candleman: dude, I get that you are looking for civility, but doing a quick search there was one "twat" and one related "asshole" in nearly 400 comments. It's not as if we are brimming over with hostility. The bulk of attacks have been directed at elected politicians. If you really think this place has a lot of intelligent conversation, then perhaps it is less "groupthink" and just a bunch of intelligent people agreeing with one another and giving examples.

There really is not that much centrist room on this issue, Side A unilaterally wants to remove collective bargaining power with little to no debate, side B wants debate. Where exactly is the middle ground, where is the Overtron window going to move to?
posted by edgeways at 7:24 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Leta: You know, I am not a big fan of tenure.

Tenure is very important on the university level, as it allows the publication of controversial studies without fear of retribution. I know some excellent biology professors who once published a study on the damage that cows do to small streams; that study resulted in the cattleman's lobby (a significant force in this state) being mobilized against them. Tenure might have been the only thing that saved their jobs.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, Unions in America have a troubled history, especially during the 70s and 80s - but without them, you wouldn't have a 40 hour work week, health insurance (if any) or any of the other so-called luxurious "perks" that we now take for granted as the signs of a sane and fair employer.

What I don't get is how this works with us po' folks nowadays. I've recently gotten a more reasonable job, but all my friends still work restaurants/landscaping/tending bar/customer service. Most of them work at least 40-50 hours a week, and nobody gets any sort of regular schedule, weekends, or any sort of health care benefits. Can anybody explain to me how this setup is supposed to be working?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2011


I guess I don't know what professors make, and of course I'm sure it varies. However, I used to be a CPA, and I looked into becoming an accounting professor, and they make upwards of $180K a year. Additionally, almost all accounting phd students get full scholarships, tuition waivers, etc.

href="http://www.byuaccounting.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=How_much_do_accounting_professors_make%3F">
posted by stevenstevo at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2011


upwards of $180K a year

BAHAHAHHAHAH BULLSHIT!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:33 PM on February 17, 2011


If we want the media to pay any attention to this, we'd better twitter like mad. The TV media's corporate sponsors/advertisers aren't going to let the TV media cover the facts behind these labor protests in any depth unless they attracts enough international attention that it starts to look like the US media is deliberately suppressing the story.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess I don't know what professors make, and of course I'm sure it varies.

The average, tenured full professor in the US makes in the mid 70s. Can go a good bit higher, but that's the median.

Basic info here.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:43 PM on February 17, 2011


Well, thsmchne, I just looked at the salary figures (9 month) for the biz school overall, and this doesn't seem un-believable. That doesn't mean it's relevant. If you want to gripe about professors' pay in any field, you can find a way to do it. It also has literally nothing to do with this thread.
posted by Mngo at 7:45 PM on February 17, 2011


Table 8 which notes "Interpret data with caution. The standard error for this estimate is equal to 30 percent or more of the estimate's value."?

That's for individual entries with small sample sizes marked with an exclamation point. Aggregate data is far more accurate.

Also, that data blends together union and non-union data, lists average rather than median, and doesn't have anything to compare them to (such as what rates private schools have in the same measurements).

It is, however, a good deal better than cherry-picked, intimidating-sounding statistics thrown up in a documentary, which you seem to have no trouble taking at face value.

Whatever the case, it indicates both that the number of teachers fired per year is far from zero and that most of those teachers that were fired for poor performance have tenure. The notion that tenured teachers are near impossible to fire is flat out wrong for most of the U.S.

It is most certainly wrong for Wisconsin, despite its apparently strong teacher's union:

Wisconsin
Avg. teachers/district: 153.9
Avg. dismissed: 3.6
No tenure: 0.3
With tenure: 3.3

You've again got over 2% of the teachers being fired a year for poor performance with over 90% of the fired teachers having tenure. This unionized state beats the national average on those stats.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:46 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


However, I used to be a CPA, and I looked into becoming an accounting professor, and they make upwards of $180K a year.

OK, let's do the math. The BYU link you posted notes that at a Top 50 accounting school, faculty may (may) make up to $175k. The #1 accounting school in the US is apparently UTexas Austin. It has 24 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. I will bet the ranch they aren't all making anywhere near $180k, but let's say they are.

Let's suppose all the other full-time faculty at the other 49 schools in the Top 50 are also. That's 1000-1100 people, at most, in the entire US making that salary. And you do know that business profs at MBA-granting univs. are paid waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than most of the other disciplines, yes?

This is sort of like assuming that every professional musician makes the same amount of money that Lady Gaga does.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow -- University of Texas accounting professors really do make a lot of money!

They are also -- obviously -- not typical state employees.
posted by escabeche at 7:56 PM on February 17, 2011


All that tenure means in a K-12 union context is that you can only be fired for cause and that there is some kind of grievance/arbitration procedure set up to enforce that—provisions that you will also find in every other union contract in every other field. The only difference is the word they use. The teachers really do not have any more (or less) protection against arbitrary termination than do union supermarket workers or auto workers or anything else.
posted by enn at 7:56 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Felliniblank: thank you for backing up my knee-jerk bullshit call. I knew that couldn't be normal.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:58 PM on February 17, 2011


Who cares what professors make? What does that have to do with stripping people of their collective bargaining rights? Whether someone makes 20K or 120K, they still have rights.... right?
posted by desjardins at 8:01 PM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


More news about the protests spreading to Ohio
In a telephone interview yesterday, Walker said he spoke with Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich by telephone.

“Don’t blink,” Walker said when asked what advice he gave Kasich about demonstrations. ”The bottom line is, it’s the right thing to do.”
posted by desjardins at 8:05 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr, I really don't want to go too far off the deep end of the derail, here, but...

I understand tenure's history, and why it exists. I come from a family where my grandma, grandpa, and uncle are retired teachers, and my aunt and cousin are still teaching. To a person, all of them have some pretty strident criticisms of tenure. I am less familiar with it as it exists for professors, but the gist of my feelings of tenure go something like this:

Protecting unpopular outcomes in research? Yes.

Protecting teachers who might, in their private lives, do things that parents don't like? Yes.

Protecting teachers who don't want to teach the facts of science or history, because their beliefs cloud their ability to do so? Erm, no, not so much.

Protecting teachers who have been convicted of a sex offense against their students? NO. (There are multiple documented cases of this. One is working it's way through the California courts right now.)

I'd like to see some reforms. I'm all for job security and due process, but there are some "rubber room" type situations that are pretty ridiculous. (Yes, I know the rubber rooms have been shut down, but the point stands.)

And, as I said, tenure =/= unionization. It's one rather small piece of a big puzzle that is organized labor. It's pretty asinine to say, "Well, tenure needs reforming... nah, fuck it, let's just break the unions."
posted by Leta at 8:05 PM on February 17, 2011


MikeMc: "P.S. My wife wants me to let everyone know she wants to kick Scott Walker's ass"

That mad me think of this, and it makes it all the more cuter. I can see the protest sign now... "Walker! Someone wants to kick your ass(k)" With a photo of the girl :)
posted by symbioid at 8:08 PM on February 17, 2011


Empress, you seem mostly informed, but I have to differ with you: you cannot join Equity in the US unless you are grandfathered in from another performance union; are offered an equity contract; amass points in a near-endless gauntlet of affiliated programs (which takes years - never known anyone to manage it); or have a union affiliation in another country. It was presented to me as a very intentional Catch-22: can't get a card without the job; can't get a job without the card. And you can't even attend real auditions for shows without the card: you are sent to separate auditions which are barely even monitored. It is pretty hard to get into Equity without someone, somewhere along the line pulling for you. I got in because a director I knew had a bit part that no one in their right mind wanted and knew I wanted a card. I know many people who have gotten into awful, awful shows just to collect the card. And you still have to pay the full entry fee. And have a limited time to do so or your impossible-to-get-once-in-a-lifetime-chance goes away. Worth getting, yes, but you can't just buy one with a big, fat roll of Franklins.
posted by umberto at 8:26 PM on February 17, 2011


"Is calling someone a twat (or asshole, if preferred) for engaging in the basics of capitalism (which just about everyone here believes in and has benefited from) really the best of the web?"

You obviously misread my comment. Go back and give it another try. But characterizing it as simply calling someone a twat for "engaging in the basics of capitalism" is a pretty striking misrepresentation.
posted by klangklangston at 8:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The governor has created a budget shortfall and is trying to end collective bargaining rights and somehow this thread has turned to arguments about tenure and college prof salaries?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


POWER TO THE PEOPLE! This is AWESOME.

You know what's really sad, though? The meaning of the name "Alasdair" (and variations thereof) is "Man's defender" or "defender of the people." Ironic enough to cause blood poisoning, I think. Maybe if fate is watching, he will find himself on the receiving end of his own tender mercies someday.
posted by perilous at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Latest rumor: the firefighters, who were exempted from the original bill but joined the protests anyway, will now be stripped of their collective bargaining rights along with other public employee unions.
posted by escabeche at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2011


General Fund Tax Collection Projections
On November 19, 2010, the Departments of Administration and Revenue submitted a report to the Governor, newly-elected Governor, and Legislature that identified revenue projections for the 2010-11 fiscal year and the 2011-13 biennium. That report, required by statute, identifies the magnitude of state agency biennial budget requests and presents a projection of general fund tax collections.
On December 27, 2010, the administration modified the November 19 report and presented a reestimate of general fund tax collections for 2010-11 and the two years of the 2011-13 biennium.
Our analysis indicates that for the three-year period, aggregate, general fund tax collections will be $202.8 million lower than those reflected in the November/December reports. More than half of the lower estimate ($117.2 million) is due to the impact of Special Session Senate Bill 2 (health savings accounts), Assembly Bill 3 (tax deductions/credits for relocated businesses), and Assembly Bill 7 (tax exclusion for new employees).
Compared with the administration's reports, tax collections are projected to be $12.9 million lower in 2010-11, $139.7 million lower in 2011-12, and $50.2 million lower in 2012-13.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


escabeche- Do you have a cite? That would be extremely surprising. The bill would have to be amended in order to accomplish that. Who would have amended the bill? The bill isn't in the JFC anymore, the Senate doesn't have quorum, and I could've sworn that the Assembly adjourned early after they found out about the Senate Dems leaving. The JCAR might have the power to move the bill to a different committee but that would be very unorthodox.
posted by Jpfed at 8:45 PM on February 17, 2011


Empress, you seem mostly informed, but I have to differ with you:

Um....dude? The reason I "seem informed" isn't just because I read some stuff. It's because I am a member of the fucking union I"m talking about, and the reason I know how you join it is because I was there when it happened.

But let's go point-by-point here.

you cannot join Equity in the US unless you are grandfathered in from another performance union;

Yes, I've heard that SAG has a connection to Equity in this way.

are offered an equity contract

As it turns out, this is how I became a member.

amass points in a near-endless gauntlet of affiliated programs (which takes years - never known anyone to manage it);

That's because Equity doesn't use a "points" system. You may be getting them confused with IATSE, which handles stagehands. Equity is only actors and stage managers.

or have a union affiliation in another country.

Actors Equity is international, yes.

It was presented to me as a very intentional Catch-22: can't get a card without the job; can't get a job without the card.

It is true you cannot WORK in certain contracts without the card. But you can APPLY for the job without one. If the company wants you bad enough, they will offer you the job and secure your membership to take care of that problem. And I know this to be the case because -- there was a job I applied for without the card. They wanted me, and offered me both the job and the membership. I said yes to both. And then I was a member. But at the time I applied, I was not a member. This did not stop the producers nor me from considering me for the job.

And you can't even attend real auditions for shows without the card: you are sent to separate auditions which are barely even monitored.

If these aren't "real auditions" that I was watching for ten years, I'd sure like to know what they were. And if these auditions aren't "monitored," then I'd love for you to tell me what the hell I was doing there, because I was monitoring those auditions as part of my job as an Equity member stage manager.

Now, you may not be able to AUDITION for the big-ticket stuff without an Equity membership. But that's not any kind of "oh noes Equity protects its own" kind of thing. Equity also arranges for non-Equity people to have general auditions for casting agents. And smaller shows, which use Equity and non-Equity actors, have "real auditions" for non-Equity members all the damn time. And I know that because, again, I was there, monitoring them.

It is pretty hard to get into Equity without someone, somewhere along the line pulling for you. I got in because a director I knew had a bit part that no one in their right mind wanted and knew I wanted a card. I know many people who have gotten into awful, awful shows just to collect the card. And you still have to pay the full entry fee. And have a limited time to do so or your impossible-to-get-once-in-a-lifetime-chance goes away.

Now, this is true -- that yes, you do have to finish paying your entry fee if you are sponsored for a card. However --

A. If you're doing it this way, you've probably gotten offered a contract, and you can elect to have a certain amount of money taken out of your check each week to go towards that balance; and

B. That "limited time" to finish paying off your balance is, oh, two years, and

C. Getting into Equity is difficult, but it is hardly an "impossible-to-get-once-in-a-lifetime-chance".

Worth getting, yes, but you can't just buy one with a big, fat roll of Franklins.

But also not a "catch-22 you can't get work without it" kind of thing either. And -- again, I know because I am a member and I remember how I got my own card.

I sympathize that the show you worked on just to get your card was so abysmal. Perhaps someone should have counselled you that "you know, there WILL be other chances if this show sucked that bad, you don't have to do this show just to get the card." Because that's what someone told me an earlier time. And they were right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tomorrow's NYT editorial: "Gov. Walker's Pretext"
"Meanwhile, the governor is refusing to accept his own share of responsibility for the state’s projected $137 million shortfall. Just last month, he and the Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus."
posted by Fin Azvandi at 9:27 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Capitol Time editorial:
Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation.

Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributors.

To achieve that end, he has proposed a $137 million budget “repair” bill that he intends to use as a vehicle to:

1. Undermine the long-established collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, which have for 80 years been the strongest advocates for programs that serve the great mass of Wisconsinites, as opposed to wealthy elites and corporate special interests. As Racine’s Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason says, the governor’s bill is designed not with the purpose of getting the state’s finances in order but as “an assault on Wisconsin’s working families and political payback against unions who didn’t support Gov. Walker.”

2. Pay for schemes that redirect state tax dollars to wealthy individuals and corporate interests that have been sources of campaign funding for Walker’s fellow Republicans and special-interest campaigns on their behalf. As Madison’s Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey notes, the governor and legislators aligned with him have over the past month given away special-interest favors to every lobby group that came asking, creating zero jobs in the process “but increasing the deficit by more than $100 million.”
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:45 PM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


escabeche: Latest rumor: the firefighters, who were exempted from the original bill but joined the protests anyway, will now be stripped of their collective bargaining rights along with other public employee unions.

Oh, now that's just brilliant. Just what you want to do is REALLY piss off the firefighter's union and pit them against the cops. Walker is definitely consulting the Mubarak Book From Weakness to Weakness: Acting like an Arrogant Despot and Losing Power and Being Reviled (in 30 Days or Less).

The GOP in Wis. really seems to think that punitive heavy handedness is going to help it's case? What sheer arrogance. They keep spouting off about how, they're "listening to the people," but they're not hear a thing obviously. Unless of course by "people" they mean the corporate concerns that gave them money.

Anyhow, I'm relieved the Wis. Dems split. It shows they have some understanding of how important this all is and just what's at stake. They didn't just roll over.

I'm keen to see what tomorrow brings as Gov. Hosni Walker consults his Guidebook. Hey, I know, he's going to call out the "tea-party supporters," to menace, threaten and beat the protesters. Heck, he might even call in the Wis. National guard and "clear the square."

Let's hope those soldiers are as pro-people as the one's in Cairo.

GO WISCONSIN GO!!

Today, we are all cheeseheads.
posted by Skygazer at 10:02 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


So this one friend of mine keeps pointing out the fact that the AFSCME says right on their site that they're paid better than their private counterparts as an answer to "why the public thinks the union employees gets better pay and benefits than the private sector." Which doesn't actually address the question at all, but since he thinks it's such a slam dunk, there's no discussing it with him.

(sigh) Trees, forest, etc etc.
posted by Kyol at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The GOP in Wis. really seems to think that punitive heavy handedness is going to help it's case? What sheer arrogance. They keep spouting off about how, they're "listening to the people," but they're not hear a thing obviously. Unless of course by "people" they mean the corporate concerns that gave them money.

He's got a full year before he can be recalled. Which is an eternity in modern news cycles. His gambit will probably prove successful - the dems can't hold him off forever - and even if they do regain power, they won't have the wherewithal to actually reverse the damage.

I'm not gonna lie. The dems absolutely surprised me by leaving as they have and drawing a line in the sand. I did not think they had it in them.

Still, this is gonna be a long fight, and well, lets be honest about the Democratic party. They're not known for party or message discipline.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:09 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


As another Madisonian resident I feel the need to chime in here. First a general point, forgive me for the elementary nature of the following concepts, but some few posters here seem to not get this;

The purpose of business and industry is to make money from making things or doing a service. They do this by doing a service or making a thing as cheaply as possible. If they can cut costs anywhere they will. Labor is a cost. See: sweatshops anywhere for evidence of this.

The purpose of a Union is to keep business and industry honest. And remind them that while labor is a cost and a resource, it is also a self-referential resource, unlike wood workers get pissed when you cut them. Pissed workers equals bad product.

Civil employees need even more protections from the capricious nature of politics. And as vulnerable entities in a democracy they should be represented. Protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.




On a personal note. My wife is a UW graduate student with a PA position. Her current take home pay is around 1300 a month. If Mr. Walker's plan goes through we will pay triple for our health care, and she loses tuition remission. Her take home pay will drop to 200 dollars a month. She won't be able to finish her graduate work. And we will likely leave the state.
posted by Severian at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Just to keep things straight:

1. I have seen no further confirmation of the firefighters losing their exemption, so that might be false.

2. Nothing I've heard suggests that PAs will lose their tuition remission if the bill passes -- what changes is that they'll have no recourse and no representation if UW or the state decides to remove that tuition remission later. But yes, the state will take a big chunk out of your paycheck for healthcare.
posted by escabeche at 10:15 PM on February 17, 2011


Killic says: stories like mine are a dime a dozen.

Currently on reddit: my GF was just pressured into resigning from her teaching job. Is this legal? "...found out the HS is laying off all 1st-year teachers..."
posted by fartknocker at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pogo - I agree w/you on the long struggle. I think that's why this is important to NOT let the dems co-opt this. We'll take their support if we can. (I say "we" in solidarity - while my company contracts w/local governments, I don't actually work for a government)...

Keep the eye on the prize, realize this HAS to be a people's uprising.

Realize that this is a struggle bigger than one set of workers' right to collectively bargain.

Realize that we've got to make it national.

But we have to make sure the system (including Labor/Dem politicians) works for US. Not just be co-opted as yet another voting bloc (even though, in a sense, that's what the Repubs are doing this for -- reduce Dem power in the state, but that's merely the first step towards entrenching more corporate power than even the Dems already tend to give by rolling over).

Let's hope this is some fucking spine the Dems continue to show. Are WI Dems really that bad? I suppose they aren't the best, but I've always had this feeling that in general they're a bit stronger than their national cohorts. Who knows....
posted by symbioid at 10:28 PM on February 17, 2011


escabeche, so far as I can tell you are right about the tuition remission thing but as you pointed out.... without strong collective bargaining it'd only be a matter of time.




That being said. I really want Bob La Follette to rise up from his grave and beat this piss-ant "governor"upside the head with a hay bale.
posted by Severian at 10:33 PM on February 17, 2011


Zombie LaFollete vs Zombie Reagan. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!! LOL.
posted by symbioid at 10:41 PM on February 17, 2011


Zombie La Follette would win. Hands down.
posted by Severian at 10:42 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


We already had zombie Reagan as president for at least six years, if not all eight.
posted by maxwelton at 10:48 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan: Oh Fox has been going into overdrive with this. They aren't even pretending anymore.
posted by Weebot at 11:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, some local governments are opposing this bill. Eau Claire passed a unanimous city council resolution, and four members (a majority) of the Janesville [former GM town] city council are sending a letter, hoping to have it signed by the absent city council president. (Two of the signers are current/former law-enforcement.)

I wish I had more to say about this. The right-wing union hatred on the local newspaper's discussion threads is pretty depressingly uniform. There's a persistent false claim that our GM plant closed because of "union greed", presumably falling to cheaper overseas competition, when it made high-end highly-profitable SUVs (GMC Suburban aka Yukon) that people simply stopped buying as the housing crisis spread and the asset bubble popped.

Then there's the hating on schoolteachers. It's obscene.
posted by dhartung at 12:07 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]




Weebot: Oh Fox has been going into overdrive with this. They aren't even pretending anymore

Incredible. Such transparent propoganda to demonize the President, the DNC, Unions, the Dem senators and the teachers as nasty near criminal rabble rousers.

And then following them up with onr paragraph of BS.

It's really grotesque. Check this shit out (From Weebots links, words in bold are mine):


Just Like Arizona, Obama Attacks Sitting Governor Protecting Their State

DNC Caught Organizing Wisconsin Protests

Tea Partier Confronts Runaway Wisconsin Dems

Union Hate Rally in Wisconsin: Protests Rife With Hitler, Gun Targets, Death Threats


This language is very aggressive and downright disturbing. More disturbing than usual.

Fox News has taken off the gloves, and is all in on, on what is clearly something of an ideological ground zero.

Hopefully I'm simply being over-dramatic here, but what the fuck comes now?! This is what the state news agencies do to misrepresent people protesting for basic human rights. Dehumanize them, make them appear criminal, violent, unpatriotic, terrorist like even, present the narrative that the status quo is superior and unquestioningly right and honorable.

Egads. WTF.
posted by Skygazer at 12:22 AM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hopefully I'm simply being over-dramatic here, but what the fuck comes now?!

"Nobody could have predicted that someone would take these messages in that way!"
posted by jaduncan at 1:32 AM on February 18, 2011


EmpressCallipygos -- to be totally fair, he may be referring to the Equity Membership Candidate Program ... I've heard the weeks of work required referred to as "points".
posted by kyrademon at 1:46 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fox News has taken off the gloves, and is all in on, on what is clearly something of an ideological ground zero.

Fox has been loudly banging the anti-union drums since before the last election.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:36 AM on February 18, 2011


>>For what it's worth, some local governments are opposing this bill. Eau Claire passed a unanimous city council resolution, and four members (a majority) of the Janesville [former GM town] city council are sending a letter

Not that this is at all surprising, but the city of Madison, too. The city just approved all pending union contracts through the end of 2012 and passed a resolution in support of collective bargaining.
posted by Vibrissa at 3:51 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, the city council approved the contracts and passed the resolution, that is.
posted by Vibrissa at 3:52 AM on February 18, 2011


People forget their history. Tenure is there for a reason. When I was a kid, teachers could be fired for such crimes as: being seen drinking in a bar, not going to church enough, wrecking their car, giving the school board president's kid a bad grade, disciplining the brat offspring of a pillar of the community. Teachers were automatically let go every June and the board would decide who to rehire in August.

And that low dismissal rate often cited: teachers in my state who are fired will probably never be hired again as teachers; it is assumed they have done something heinous. Poor performers or minor rule breakers quietly resign.
posted by tommyD at 3:59 AM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you think Fox news is a fun read, you should head over to the WSJ, they have an editorial that will explain it all to you.
posted by newdaddy at 4:00 AM on February 18, 2011


No way I have time to read this thread. But I just heard Thom Hartmann say the "deficit" in Wisconsin is actually a surplus, while talking with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

I'm so glad I'm on blood pressure medication now. The constant lies enrage me.
posted by Goofyy at 4:38 AM on February 18, 2011


I saw a quote somewhere that I can't find: it was something like "Big business has Walker to stand up for it while workers must sleep out in the cold to represent themselves" -- does anyone remember where this was?
posted by theredpen at 4:38 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI, the main tags on Twitter appear to be #wiunion and #solidarityWI

... and now #solidarityOH as well :)
posted by desjardins at 5:33 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


#killthebill gets some good stuff, too. If you need a laugh, WISenDems is an amusing account.
posted by QIbHom at 5:48 AM on February 18, 2011


Tomorrow's NYT editorial: "Gov. Walker's Pretext"

You have to love an editorial with a title that sounds as if it were written by Oscar Wilde and Lou Reed.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:58 AM on February 18, 2011


Scott Walker's SUV is a funny Twitter feed too. And Not Scott Walker.
posted by desjardins at 6:01 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tomorrow's NYT editorial: "Gov. Walker's Pretext"

Is that the tone that most NYT editorial's take? It was so noncommital.
posted by Think_Long at 6:03 AM on February 18, 2011


Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs' Plan to Break Labor's Back.

Koch Brothers and Club for Growth are pushing this agenda and behind the messaging, including misleading budget and anti-union TV ads.

This is about the Koch brothers steamrolling their to-the-right-of-the-John-Birch-Society political agenda. Busting unions in multiple states is part of that strategy.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:09 AM on February 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


This is about the Koch brothers steamrolling their to-the-right-of-the-John-Birch-Society political agenda.

And oddly enough, their dad helped started the John Birch Society (which is now headquartered in Wisconsin).
posted by drezdn at 6:18 AM on February 18, 2011


This is about the Koch brothers steamrolling their to-the-right-of-the-John-Birch-Society political agenda. Busting unions in multiple states is part of that strategy.

Weren't they also involved in the Citizens United case?
posted by Skygazer at 6:41 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weren't they also involved in the Citizens United case?

There's a reason they're called the "kochtopus". Their tentacles touch everything.
posted by Think_Long at 6:45 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It icks me out to go see the New York City Ballet in the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. They should have refused the donation.

Ironically it was the "New York State Theatre" first.
posted by JPD at 7:03 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heading to Madison.
posted by drezdn at 7:24 AM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Budget problem was worse two years ago, and they solved that one without taking away collective bargaining rights.
posted by drezdn at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


kochtopus

I just had a very strange mental-image.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:29 AM on February 18, 2011


I just had a very strange mental-image.

Hopefully for your soul it wasn't the same Lovecraftian image I had.
posted by edgeways at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2011


I just had a very strange mental-image.

Hopefully for your soul it wasn't the same Lovecraftian image I had.


Well, what would you expect a mental image of a giant octopus that goes around fucking people to look like?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:34 AM on February 18, 2011


Hopefully for your soul it wasn't the same Lovecraftian image I had.

It was.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:39 AM on February 18, 2011


Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation.

Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributors.


Okay -- this editorial is great. But: who (names, type of business, outside-of-state interests or not) are the allies and contributors that Walker's allegedly paying back? Just a generic reference to "fat-cat contributors" tells us very little.

Knowing that would make the editorial 100 times better.
posted by blucevalo at 7:44 AM on February 18, 2011


1) GODDAMNIT, I RAN OUT OF FAVORITES.

2) this makes a WHOLE lot more sense after reading that Alternet article. Well, I only got to the 1st page before having to head to work (wait, what the fuck am I doing here again?)...

I followed the link to Koch's Wisconsin page, and saw immediately the issue. Aside from pushing the Union busting agenda, the money they bring in is heavy industry, and especially oil processing/coal. They make Asphalt. Walker doesn't want to use the federal funds for rail. He wanted it for Roads. Hmmm, and pray tell which company would get some of that money for the roads? Thankfully he was denied if he wasn't gonna spend it on rail. The coal plant at the UW-Madison is converting, and he decided to put a stop to some of that process... It's going to use Natural Gas, (it was also slated, in addition to Natural Gas, to use biomass - Walker put a stop to biomass). I don't recall seeing Natural Gas on the Koch page, but I have a feeling their tentacles are on THAT product too.

3) I heard that State Workers on Monday have one of their furlough days (one of the days that was forced on them as budget cutting measures, and now... look out walker! You thought the past few days were bad, NOW the workforce doesn't HAVE to be at work!)

4) Looks like teabaggers are rolling in with a counter-demo tomorrow.

My main prayer is that there is not any violence between the two groups, that if there is, it can be quashed easily without too much force by the state. But I have a feeling there will be some very strong purposeful antagonism between the two parties with an intent to cause an outbreak and distract from the issues at hand. That's ok. The teaparty will be outnumbered. My guess is, though, that they'll be bringing in Out-of-Staters via bus. I hope not, I hope it's just locals, and their numbers are dwarfed.
posted by symbioid at 7:45 AM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


FWIW, there's a pretty good round-up of news stories, opinion, and video at Global Higher Ed, and a good twitter feed on the tag #wiunion.
posted by Mngo at 7:46 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


any mefites down there today? what's the mood, what's happening? is there a blog someplace that has some cool up-to-the-minute happenings / pictures being posted?

i think i'm gonna come down from north-central WI with the fam after work today and stand and be counted. watching the scene on the 'ed show' last night was really inspiring.
posted by g.i.r. at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2011


Oh, and Scott Walker's bullshit "they gotta do their job".

HEY ASSHOLE, they ARE doing their job. If they were there, this shit would pass. Their constituents want them to block it/slow it down/whatever. The only way they can do it is through this method. They are doing what we want them to do.

Their job is to FIGHT you, Walker. So that's what they're doing.
posted by symbioid at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


g.i.r., there's a meetup thread but the consensus seems to be that meeting up at the protest is impractical. I'm headed downtown soon. For anybody who makes the trip, be sure to at least walk through the capitol building if possible, even if you mostly stay outside. The scene in the rotunda is amazing.
posted by Mngo at 7:57 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I see Walker, Christie, Boehner, and the other Republican leaders, I cannot get an image of one of the Monty Python Gilliam cartoons out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JKvJaJKPPk at 2:26 (it's a priest, but he looks a lot like many of the conservatives to me).

"We want you to think of us as your friends."

posted by theredpen at 8:06 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9JKvJaJKPPk#t=146s

Forgot you can link to a certain time.
posted by theredpen at 8:07 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some are calling it the Velveeta Revolution, which is funny but unfortunately insulting; "the cheese seige" seems to be the alternative.
posted by Mngo at 8:07 AM on February 18, 2011


Cheddar, motherfuckers!

But honestly, I think it shouldn't be based on Wisconsin... Since there's a lot of the color revolutions, and noticing the Red of UW, and the Red of Ohio (that seems to be closely marching behind), I'd more want it to be the Red Revolution. But then again - Red is so...Commie! And Republican!

Midwestvolution?
Redvolution?

If it's gonna be a cheese, it HAS to be Cheddar!
Someone commented that they were not gonna buy Wisconsin cheese, and I made sure to inform them that they needed to not buy Sargento Cheese, those are the jerks who donated to these right-wing thugs. Most cheese folks, I think, are decent. I hope they are. But Sargento was a major contributor to Johnson and Walker.
posted by symbioid at 8:12 AM on February 18, 2011


mngo - g.i.r., there's a meetup thread but the consensus seems to be that meeting up at the protest is impractical.

yeah, that was me that started that thread ;)

but hey ! how awesome is it that there are so many people down there, that we probably won't even find each other? what a turnout ! so awesome ! (^_^)
posted by g.i.r. at 8:12 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


They should rename MoveOn.org to MoooooveOn.org

Also, Velveeta was invented in NY and is made by Kraft, so we need to try harder in the naming department.
posted by desjardins at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Velveeta Revolution is hilarious.
posted by Think_Long at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2011


I'd rather it be called the Stinky Limburger Revolution than the Velveeta Revolution.
posted by desjardins at 8:15 AM on February 18, 2011


Colby is a nice Wisconsin cheese, but "The Colby Revolution" is just meh.
posted by Floydd at 8:18 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, g.i.r., silly of me...

OK, one more link if you're computer bound and want to follow along, the live blog run by the Isthmus newspaper
posted by Mngo at 8:18 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mngo, thanks for the live blog link.
posted by Vibrissa at 8:24 AM on February 18, 2011


We can't rescind wall street bonuses, because they were part of previously agreed-on contracts!
We can break previously agreed-on union contracts, because everyone's got to share the pain, right?


As I remember - Walker rose to power because the last batch of crooks^H^H^H^H^H^Helected officials "played games" with the pensions such that Milwaukee County was gonna pay out a whole metric f*ckton of money?

I don't remember Walker manning up then to break that contract to stop the "pain".

And as for breaking the current contracts - figure out what he and his kind have done that violates State/Federal law and get it to your local Grand Jury.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


hey mngo - you don't have to say sorry, no problem ! :) thanks for the great link !
posted by g.i.r. at 8:30 AM on February 18, 2011


3rd hand rumor that State Prison workers may walk off today, take that with a large grainof salt (perhaps a shaker full) but may be interesting.
posted by edgeways at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2011


> "On a personal note. My wife is a UW graduate student with a PA position. Her current take home pay is around 1300 a month. If Mr. Walker's plan goes through we will pay triple for our health care, and she loses tuition remission. Her take home pay will drop to 200 dollars a month. She won't be able to finish her graduate work. And we will likely leave the state."

I am in that boat with your wife. As is my girlfriend, and our entire department. If the GOP wants to drive a bunch of young, smart people out of the state...welll...good luck with that.

Losing tuition remission is not a ding to my benefits; It's as good as being fired, and I will leave the state if it happens.
posted by aganders3 at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The only way they can do it is through this method.

Bullshit.

Read the State constitution, figure out what the whole LOT of them do that is contrary to law then go after 'em hammer and tongs. Take the complaints to the Grand Jury. Check if the oaths of office are on file. Check the bond status.

Make 'em follow the law as written - from the Governor all the way down to the dog catcher.

(and while in Madison, there is a micro broadcasting rule of law radio...take a listen. )
posted by rough ashlar at 8:51 AM on February 18, 2011


Regarding the follow-up posts about tuition remission:

I know it's not in the bill, but it's at risk if collective bargaining power is eliminated. If you pay attention to the protesters, most are willing to accept the cuts (I think they're used to taking it by now), but not they're not willing to give up their rights.
posted by aganders3 at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2011


3rd hand rumor that State Prison workers may walk off today

Good. Perhaps the Governor will then man up and pull *ALL* of Wisconsin Guard back to the State. (perhaps the millions needed to fly 'em all back from Afghanistan and where ever else they were sent will exceed the budget amount in dispute, for the luls of course)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:54 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Labor's Last Stand
posted by homunculus at 8:57 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Walker doesn't want to use the federal funds for rail. He wanted it for Roads.

Didn't the County of Milwaukee need 250+ years to fix up all the roads, based on the rate of spending at the time?

And, has anyone gotten Walker to answer, on the record, how the roads will be used, what with Peak Oil 'round the corner?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:59 AM on February 18, 2011


Just a guess, but I would imagine that the prison workers who would be striking would not be the actual guards, but the myriad of support staff, counselors, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:00 AM on February 18, 2011


Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights. It is time we took personal responsibility and financial responsibility seriously.
posted by jamesww at 9:06 AM on February 18, 2011


> Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights.

What are you talking about?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on February 18, 2011


if there were strong laws and government intervention into employee/ermployer relations it might make Unions redundant.
If only there were some example of such a situation, appropriate to discuss in this thread, where the employer in question was 100% under government control.
However, that's a hypothetical. Such a situation does not exist.
You might have stopped looking a little too quickly.
posted by roystgnr at 9:10 AM on February 18, 2011


Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights. It is time we took personal responsibility and financial responsibility seriously.

ahahahahaha

HAHAHAHAHAHA

*gasps for breath*

AHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHHAAAAAA
posted by desjardins at 9:10 AM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tennessee Republicans Move To Eliminate Labor Rights For Teachers
"The Senate Education Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to abolish collective bargaining between teachers unions and school boards across the state.

The vote was 6-3, with all Republicans on the panel voting for the bill and all Democrats against.

Sponsor Sen. Jack Johnson said passage of the bill -- SB113 -- will remove 'an albatross from around the neck of our school boards across the state' and remove a roadblock to education reform."

posted by madamjujujive at 9:10 AM on February 18, 2011



Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights

Yep, like those pesky rights to assemble, freely associate, petition the government...
posted by greasy_skillet at 9:10 AM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights. It is time we took personal responsibility and financial responsibility seriously.

You paid 5 dollars to say that?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:12 AM on February 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


Rights?!? The only "Rights" are contained in the Bill of Rights.
What are you talking about?


Yes Jamesww - do expand on what you claim. Some of the 'rights' are 'natural', others fall under common law.

In all places 'cept Louisiana, I believe Common Law is 'active' if there is no statute that covers the matter.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:13 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]






It is time we took personal responsibility and financial responsibility seriously.

I'm not sure this is what you intended and won't ascribe it to you. However, it seems whenever people start talking "personal and financial responsibility" it is usually followed by an implied bend over to anyone making less than $150K a year and the less you make the wider you got to spread. And where is socially responsibility in that equation anyhow?

When the wealthy start acting with "personal and financial responsibility", when politicians stop blatantly creating crisis for political cover to pull shitty maneuvers, when we remove our collected head from our collective ass then we can bemoan the lack of responsibility of the poor peasants.

the reason it was referred to as a right is that in WI the right of collective bargaining was codified into law about half a century ago, it is a right under Wisconsin law.

I would think there are plenty of Rights not specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights, shall we go down that path?
posted by edgeways at 9:18 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one that assumed that jamesww was being sarcastic?
posted by dinty_moore at 9:19 AM on February 18, 2011


There's also this really good Rachel Maddow segment, which I hope I haven't missed upthread, which succinctly details not only the extent to which this is a crisis entirely of Gov. Walker's own making but how it is the opening move in a long-term strategy to defund the Democratic Party.
posted by gerryblog at 9:20 AM on February 18, 2011 [9 favorites]




You paid 5 dollars to say that?


Maybe he's the governor of Wisconsin.
It's that or a replicant.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:22 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


WaPo article
posted by edgeways at 9:24 AM on February 18, 2011


Why is that, without fail, anyone who wants to lecture everybody on what rights are and why we are misunderstanding them is someone who wants to curtail other people from actually exercising theirs?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:24 AM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


shall we go down that path?

I believe a few posters have already pointed out the signposts of those paths. I'd say at this stage see if the poster comes back to explain themselves.

There is Republican Governor hate'n to be done in this thread and no one has tied Walker to Palin yet, so lets get this heavy rail* train back on track!

*(Light rail not vaild in Wisconsin)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2011


U MADISON?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Time for Wisconsin liberals to do a grassroots door-to-door to get people who wouldn't otherwise care about this involved.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one that assumed that jamesww was being sarcastic?

Not with the Glenn Beckish capitalization of the word Rights, as though we were sitting around in a town square in the 18th-century listening to Tom Paine expound upon Virtue, Tyranny, and Honour.
posted by blucevalo at 9:39 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eight of Walker’s Republican allies in the state senate have served at least one year of their current term, however, and thus are eligible for a recall petition right now. If just three of these Republicans were to be replaced with Democrats, the state senate would flip to a Democratic-majority body.

I wonder how hard it would be get this done right now? It seems to me that some people in Wisconsin could find a committee to back the petition with the current climate and I know of a large group of what are probably all voting age people around Madison, WI who would be willing to sign it.
posted by VTX at 9:39 AM on February 18, 2011


Best protest signs
posted by fixedgear at 9:42 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Secret Service are in Madison right now, perhaps the president tomorrow.

Jesse Jackson is there today.

shit is getting big.
posted by edgeways at 9:42 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


DANG, I'd love to see Obama do something pro-labor.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Best protest signs

My fave was the "Becomes Governor. Breaks Everything" one.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, bluecevalo - Tom Paine, methinks, would be behind these union folks, which is the one thing that *really* pisses me off about these idiots who think they understand the founders. Paine endorsing a universal fund to give to all men at the age of 21 (I'm sure, knowing what I do of Paine, that he'd endorse it for women and minorities, too). Even Jefferson wanted a pensioners fund, IIRC.

Here's a little article on Paine...

But just like religious nutters who want to read only the parts of the bible they want, so too, do these teabaggers only want to believe in whatever myth they believe of the founders, despite what actual documents and writings, written by the hand of the very people they claim to admire, indicate that go contrary to their preconceived notion of what "the founders" wanted.
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edgeways: Secret Service?! How do you know?
posted by echo target at 9:47 AM on February 18, 2011



DANG, I'd love to see Obama do something pro-labor.


I have a very hard time imaging that actually happen. I'd expect some very vague speeches about getting along and the value of unions, and the difficulties of the economic crisis.

It's not really in his interest to encourage the masses to challenge elected officials. This is back to the working class and the employers having nothing in common. It's hard to imagine that Obama has a lot riding on the union horse, even if he does get some of his votes from that demographic.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:48 AM on February 18, 2011


The Uptake have video feed. (they are the ones who covered the entire Coleman/Franken recount amongst many other things
posted by edgeways at 9:48 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to urge all Mefites in the area to get to Madison and join in. Right now we've got numbers, and we need more of them. I'm heading down early this afternoon, and will stay as long as it takes.

We shall overcome.
posted by rocketman at 9:49 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not with the Glenn Beckish capitalization of the word Rights, as though we were sitting around in a town square in the 18th-century listening to Tom Paine expound upon Virtue, Tyranny, and Honour.

Unlikely. Tom Paine would eviscerate Beck with a few well-chosen words. And he wouldn't have to cry to make it entertaining.

In fact, we all know that were Beck living in pre-Revolutionary War America, he'd be the biggest Tory ever and go around reporting on anyone who was anti-England.
posted by emjaybee at 9:49 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I said something similar in the Egypt protest thread, but how is it that this kind of crazy shit always seems to happen when The Daily Show is on vacation?

Or maybe I just answered my own question; anyone see if Samantha Bee or John Oliver are in the crowd in Madison... stirring things up?
posted by quin at 9:49 AM on February 18, 2011


According to this Crooked Timber post Walker plans on announcing the defacto privatization of UW-Madison on Tuesday.

Cause you know its been so unsuccesful as an entity run by the state for the public good.

Its not like its remarkable at all that the state school for a Midwestern Farming/Rust Belt state has ended up as one of the finest Universities in the world. I mean what value could it possibly bring the state.
posted by JPD at 9:51 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


[comment removed - please don't do dossier assembling on people and bringing their personal info here, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:54 AM on February 18, 2011


the defacto privatization of UW-Madison on Tuesday.

This would be the same UW Madison that blew $30 million to move the email system to Microsoft and $25 million to do the same thing to Oracle?

Yea, private things just work better, right Governor?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:54 AM on February 18, 2011


@echo target, two different individuals. One reported hearing about it, the other reported seeing them "clearing out/occupying" the same building Obama was in the last time he came to Madison. Does it definitely mean the president is coming? Of course not, but in conjunction with the WaPo article I linked above I'd say there is anon-zero chance now.
posted by edgeways at 9:54 AM on February 18, 2011


I've got this sick sinking feeling Obama will just say some platitudes about 'everyone making some adjustments in hard times'.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:55 AM on February 18, 2011


I said something similar in the Egypt protest thread, but how is it that this kind of crazy shit always seems to happen when The Daily Show is on vacation?

Um.... The Daily Show has been back all this week.
posted by hippybear at 9:56 AM on February 18, 2011


Initial lineup for the Teabagger counter protest tomorrow (12p-3p) Andrew Breitbart, Jim Hoff, Ned Ryun, Herman Cain, Vicki McKenna
posted by edgeways at 9:57 AM on February 18, 2011


Its not like its remarkable at all that the state school for a Midwestern Farming/Rust Belt state has ended up as one of the finest Universities in the world.

As a loyal employee and alumnus of the UofM, I am contractually obligated to say "Buck the Fadgers". As a realist, I am inclined to agree with you. bucking fadgers.
posted by Think_Long at 9:58 AM on February 18, 2011


Vicki McKenna?!? Really? There's someone I'd like to see be attacked by a rabid badger.



Oh and supposedly, on the subject of UW Madison privatization scemes, supposedly Biddy Martin (the UW Chancellor) was in talks with "Governor" Walker earlier this week to separate UW Madison from the UW system.

I don't know why. I mean she herself was screwed by the system not too long ago when she was told her life partner couldn't receive her benefits.
posted by Severian at 10:01 AM on February 18, 2011


larger and nosier rally today then yesterday
posted by edgeways at 10:01 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not really in his interest to encourage the masses to challenge elected officials.

See, I think that's wrong.

Look at how much extra political muscle the Republicans managed to squeeze out of their support for the Tea Party protesters (and notice how much more media coverage those relatively trivial protests got)? Sure, that support cost the Republicans in a lot of ways, too, but in this case, I'd think the President and his party would be eager to have a new source of political pressure to use in the defense of specific spending programs, or at least, to strengthen their bargaining position going into the latest legislative session.

This session has been preordained by congressional Republicans as being all about slashing public spending and killing jobs. Speaker Boehner has even gone on the record acknowledging that the proposals at the Federal level will kill a lot of jobs: His comment? "So be it."

Congressional Republicans have a jobs agenda all right: destroying them.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's interesting that the Republicans have clearly got a plan, here - a target they are aiming at. They want to destroy the unions because that will break the back of the left - and any opposition by ordinary people - for good.

What would be interesting, would be if the left in America had a target to aim at. 90% taxes for the top bracket? Complete overturning of citizens united - but only for corporations, not unions? Nationalising large sections of the financial industry? Universal health care?

What would America look like if the left won? I'm always a bit surprised that I have hardly ever seen anyone talking like they have an answer to that.
posted by lucien_reeve at 10:05 AM on February 18, 2011


As I understand it's not "privatizing" the University (though that may become the ultimate goal of course).

It's separating the University from the rest of the state system which is utterly stupid, and if any at UW-Madison think this is an OK thing they are greedy selfish pricks.

It's obviously one more divide-and-conquer strategy and the people at UW-Madison better stand the fuck up and demand to stay united to the larger state system.
posted by symbioid at 10:06 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if the US had a real left, lucien_reeve.
posted by QIbHom at 10:07 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd think the President and his party would be eager to have a new source of political pressure to use in the defense of specific spending programs,

I'd say that is based on thinking there is a difference between Big Money Backed Republicans and Big Money Backed Democrats when there is not more than a dime's bit of difference.

With inflation, that nickel difference one does see may become a dime.....but there is right of center and righter of center in American politics.

Once the Federal Reserve Note is repudiated in global trade will the resulting house cleaning eventually collapse the military spending, but until then the war party is on!
posted by rough ashlar at 10:11 AM on February 18, 2011


I think lucien_reeve, that a problem with uniting "the left" is there is so much built-in internal disagreement. There are a lot (perhaps even a majority) of people who agree with plenty of left-ist ideals, But, the more you pile on the smaller than number becomes, and pretty soon you end up fighting the old fights of "you are not a liberal if you believe [gun ownership, nuclear power, Union rights, voter rights....xyz]" There will never be a liberal government because we can't agree on what a liberal government would look like. That is the underlining problem of the Democratic party as well, when Franken and Nelson are in the same party you know things won't go smoothly.

By contrast right now the conservatives have it a lot easier, (and by no means do I wish to imply that all conservatives are the same, but they are a lot more homogenized than liberals) low/no taxes, no unions, more guns, security, and mainly straight white religious values.
posted by edgeways at 10:14 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What would America look like if the left won?

If the left of America (as it exists today in government) actually won things wouldn't look that different from moderate European democracies. Higher marginal tax rates, a bit less of an interest in private behavior, stronger social safety net including single payer healthcare. A little more power to labor - but not a ton.
posted by JPD at 10:15 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look at how much extra political muscle the Republicans managed to squeeze out of their support for the Tea Party protesters (and notice how much more media coverage those relatively trivial protests got)? Sure, that support cost the Republicans in a lot of ways, too, but in this case, I'd think the President and his party would be eager to have a new source of political pressure to use in the defense of specific spending programs, or at least, to strengthen their bargaining position going into the latest legislative session.

I suppose it depends if the democrats and Obama feel that a strong, vocal union movement would be a benefit or a liability. Sure they get votes, but it's also a difficult thing to control. The democrats can lean left socially, but they've never seemed very labor-strong.

I'm not American, so I could be mis-characterizing the electoral system there. But if we believe that a strong union movement exists to empower the working class and create a society ruled by the working class, then it does seem to go against the goals of the democrats, or any elected party.

...of course, the trade union movement has been selling the workers up the creek for a long time now, and is a looooong way from revolutionary, so maybe he is safe supporting them.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:16 AM on February 18, 2011


If Obama comes out and gives some lukewarm middleground speech without explicitly stating that the unions have got to stay, it'll be worse than if he doesn't come at all. Right now we need fire, not conciliation.
posted by echo target at 10:17 AM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]



It's separating the University from the rest of the state system which is utterly stupid, and if any at UW-Madison think this is an OK thing they are greedy selfish pricks.


I spoke with a few colleagues at the UW and yeah, there are some downsides, but there are some upsides as well. It's a fairly complex issue.

The main benefit, in theory, separating the UW-Madison from the state university system will grant them more freedom to set wages and benefits. The UW Madison won't be tied to the state hierarchy of employement with the regulations that follow (mandatory reviews, rate and title change limitations, etc.) This among others.

Of course, with all things, theory and practice don't always line up.

Anyway, the idea does have some merit and it isn't purely idiocy. I'm not convinced it's a good idea, but it worth some discussion.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:18 AM on February 18, 2011


A few good possibilities spring to mind. At least, these are the things that strike me as most sorely wanting:

1) A guaranteed, universal right for labor to organize.

2) Reforms to provide greater protections for workers and consumers against corporate marketplace abuses and media distortions.

3) (Which might be a subset of #2 above) Sweeping campaign finance and other reforms that permanently take the corrupting influence of campaign and lobbying money out of the political process and that provide more equal opportunity for participation in the political process.

4) Close the social security/medicare contributions gap. If you make $2 million a year, your withholdings should be calculated based on all $2 million, not based only on the first $100,000 of your income. That puts the same relative tax burden on upper middle class folks as on the wealthy and super wealthy, which isn't right or fair.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:18 AM on February 18, 2011


Seriously, look at the WaPo article. I promise this last time I'll mention it, but it does give some indication of where the White House is on this topic.
posted by edgeways at 10:20 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So this one friend of mine keeps pointing out the fact that the AFSCME says right on their site that they're paid better than their private non-union counterparts

The linked page doesn't appear to make a comparison between the wages of public and private employees.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2011


Obama's decisions aside, if America comes out of this with a newly active and stronger union movement, I won't be half as concerned about what color the president wears.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:24 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just wrote to my assemblywoman and encouraged her with some words of support, as recommended above. Will write to Erpenbach, as well (I've always liked him :))
posted by symbioid at 10:24 AM on February 18, 2011


If Obama comes out and gives some lukewarm middleground speech

What else does Obama do though?

I really really hope there is a vast silent majority that is starting to rise up, but I don't know. I often feel there are too many cubicle dwelling libertarians who can't see past the deductions column of there pay statement, and that the great experiment is over.
posted by Trochanter at 10:24 AM on February 18, 2011




I really really hope there is a vast silent majority that is starting to rise up, but I don't know. I often feel there are too many cubicle dwelling libertarians who can't see past the deductions column of there pay statement, and that the great experiment is over.


IMHO the cubicle dwellers are going to need unions more than anyone soon. Trade unions have been slow to adapt to the tech boom and office jobs, and that's done a lot of damage to the union movement.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:28 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, what kind of crowds do we have here, compared to the teabagger rallies? i think we're handily outnumbering them. I think tomorrow will be the testing ground in terms of seeing who has numbers (not that it matters in the moral sense, but if they see that they aren't, in fact, the majority, and even if they all get there, and we do dwarf them, maybe they'll grok they aren't as powerful as they think -- a boy could hope!)
posted by symbioid at 10:28 AM on February 18, 2011


Pogo_Fuzzybutt- Decoupling the wages/benefits of Madison from that of the UW System sounds like a smaller proposition than separating Madison from the UW System completely. If the wage/benefit decoupling is the good part, why not just do that?
posted by Jpfed at 10:29 AM on February 18, 2011


Totally agree, Stagger Lee, but these fellows remind me too much of Micheal Douglas in "Falling Down." In fact I think they see themselves that way.
posted by Trochanter at 10:30 AM on February 18, 2011


"But just like religious nutters who want to read only the parts of the bible they want, so too, do these teabaggers only want to believe in whatever myth they believe of the founders, despite what actual documents and writings, written by the hand of the very people they claim to admire, indicate that go contrary to their preconceived notion of what "the founders" wanted."

What are ya gonna believe, some words in books written by liberal elitists, or your gut?

"What else does Obama do though?"

"In weighing the sensible, moderate liberal position, and the reactionary, right-wing fascist position, I have decided to choose the middle road between them, showing that compromise is possible on all things."
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




"In weighing the sensible, moderate liberal position, and the reactionary, right-wing fascist position, I have decided to choose the middle road between them, showing that compromise is possible on all things."


Wait. He's compromising between "sensible, moderate" and "reactionary, right-wing fascist"?

Is that an actual quote? And who would want to compromise between those things after framing the discussion like that?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:37 AM on February 18, 2011


"That's what we call sarcasm"

-- desjardins
posted by desjardins at 10:39 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, did desjardins really say that?
posted by gerryblog at 10:40 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


"That's what we call sarcasm"

But it has quotes! I'm a hardass about punctuation.

I'm going to quote myself now:

I never know what to assume anymore.
-Stagger Lee
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:42 AM on February 18, 2011


A section of teachers at the rally changing "Union Busting... Fucking Disgusting"

heh
posted by edgeways at 10:42 AM on February 18, 2011


And who would want to compromise between those things...

Someone who's ability to stay in office depended on campaign money from political organizations representing the interests of rich people.
posted by Trochanter at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2011


"Velveeta... Also Fucking Disgusting"
posted by desjardins at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A section of teachers at the rally changing "Union Busting... Fucking Disgusting"

Where there actual protests back in the day when St. Reagan broke up the air traffic controllers union?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:44 AM on February 18, 2011


Heh, why not start working to bring in more unions - for every day this goes on target a Wal-mart or 10 for unionization?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:45 AM on February 18, 2011


Per the Isthmus live blog:
Jason Joyce: The chant is "Stop disgusting union busting!" I've been on the square all week and haven't heard the f bomb once.
posted by dhartung at 10:45 AM on February 18, 2011


Yes, there were protests when Reagan took down PATCO. I attended a few. But they were small and ignored.
posted by QIbHom at 10:46 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Digby: Cheese And Koch

Not one fatuous gasbag on television this morning has yet reported that the budget problems in Wisconsin are due to this Koch puppet's tax cuts of last month. Not one. They are just going on and on and on about how broke the country is. Norah O'Donnell was practically crying just now about the "crisis".
posted by madamjujujive at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where there actual protests back in the day when St. Reagan broke up the air traffic controllers union?

Yeah, 85% of them went on strike and Reagan just went ahead and fired them anyway.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


...Proving once again that the only contracts anyone in Washington views as binding are mortgage and other consumer debt contracts, and even those, only in so far as the terms on one side are concerned.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on February 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


desjardins: ""That's what we call sarcasm"

-- desjardins
"

--Michael Scott
posted by symbioid at 10:50 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




Yeah, 85% of them went on strike and Reagan just went ahead and fired them anyway.


Yeah. That's what General Strikes are for, but the American union movement ain't what it used to be.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:51 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


...Proving once again that the only contracts anyone in Washington views as binding are mortgage and other consumer debt contracts, and even those, only in so far as the terms on one side are concerned.

Crazy Horse could have told you that.
posted by Sailormom at 10:57 AM on February 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


Where are the Koch's based out of?
posted by edgeways at 10:58 AM on February 18, 2011


Hades?
posted by desjardins at 10:58 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where are the Koch's based out of?

The palm of the invisible hand of the market.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs' Plan to Break Labor's Back
Koch Industries based in Kansas but at least 17 facilities and offices in WI.
posted by adamvasco at 11:03 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw someone trotting out that canard about "we have to cut taxes, otherwise we won't have businesses left!" on comments at JSOnline in the comments... Given that link above from the NYT(?) regarding how companies aren't leaving NY due to increased taxes (please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it was that)... Is there a central database showing companies moving from where to where along with the claimed reasons?

I think this would be very good to see a map like this to point and say "ah yeah - you're full of shit"
posted by symbioid at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2011


woops - full article
posted by adamvasco at 11:05 AM on February 18, 2011


hippybear : Um.... The Daily Show has been back all this week.

Seriously? *grumble, grumble* frackin' DVR...

posted by quin at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2011


I saw ... comments at JSOnline

Please don't do this to yourself.
posted by desjardins at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


David Koch lives in NYC, although for Tax purposes I'm sure he "lives" somewhere else.
No idea where Charles Koch lives.
posted by JPD at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2011


State corporate taxes are so low, and there are already so many ways to evade corporate taxation, you never see companies move out of state because taxes increased. You will see them move if you get hefty subsidies and what not to move somewhere new.

Personal income tax rates end up meaning a whole lot more to corporate executives.
posted by JPD at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now now, JPD - we can't be compiling Dossiers ;)
posted by symbioid at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2011


DANG, I'd love to see Obama do something pro-labor.

Obama joins Wisconsin's budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill. "Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an 'assault' on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers. The president's political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals."
posted by blucevalo at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why we have to fight.
posted by rocketman at 11:21 AM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's great news, but the language in that article seems so negative. Obama is "thrust[ing] himself" into the situation. "The president's political machine"? Jesus. It's OFA, not Tammany Hall.

Maybe I'm just seeing anti-union bias everywhere I look. Anyway, thanks for the link. Going back over the thread, I see it's been posted like 10 times already and I just didn't see it.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The bill's supporters claim it's necessary to address a State "budget crisis." So why does the bill also remove collective bargaining rights from municipal employees? Municipal employees wouldn't affect state costs, right?

I know, I'm preaching to the choir here, but have any of the bill's supporters even attempted to offer a justification for that part of it?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2011


Devil's Advocate is preaching to the choir?
I heartily approve.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate: "The bill's supporters claim it's necessary to address a State "budget crisis." So why does the bill also remove collective bargaining rights from municipal employees? Municipal employees wouldn't affect state costs, right?

I know, I'm preaching to the choir here, but have any of the bill's supporters even attempted to offer a justification for that part of it?
"

DevilsAdvocate, the State Republicans in Wisconsin have attempted over the years to limit the rights of municipalities to raise funds on their own. I can't pull out the relevant laws, but this has been a slow encroaching issue where the State wants to have more dictation over localities, despite what the localities may want or need. This just gives lie to their "local power" bullshit. If they really believed in local community power, then they wouldn't attempt to force the hands of the localities. Maybe I can try to research the relevant laws in effect.
posted by symbioid at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyway, thanks for the link. Going back over the thread, I see it's been posted like 10 times already and I just didn't see it.

I didn't see it either, but it deserves a little more prominence in the thread if neither of us has noticed it before (assuming others have also not noticed). I mean, more than just the link and the headline.
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2011


Thanks, but that's not necessary, symbioid—I was interested in what the Republicans' claimed rationale (if any) for including municipal employees in the bill was, not the actual bald-faced power grab it is (which I don't doubt). Because it seems to me the inclusion of municipal employees in the bill pretty well refutes their own "it's not about busting unions, it's about the State budget" argument.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2011


symbioid: They did this in Florida, too, basically imposing limits on local jurisdictions powers to increase property tax revenue collection. Of course, in that case, they had the help of Florida voters who's eyes got so big at the prospect of cutting property taxes unilaterally, they didn't even seem to register or understand that they were giving what had always been constitutionally defined as local revenue collecting authority up to the state level government in the bargain.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2011


Someone needs to do a comprehensive study looking at whether or not there's a clear pattern of these Republican states that are now crying budget crisis having passed big tax cuts under Republican leadership over the last decade or so. I'd be willing to bet you'd see a clear pattern of revenue funds being deliberately drained away, leading up to the current budgeting crisis.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, it's not a secret. They're complete open about it.
posted by dhartung at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


WI Senate gives Walker another week to unveil 2011-2013 budget

Tip of the day: never look at the comments on JSOnline. YOUR BRAIN WILL MELT AND YOU WILL PUT YOUR FIST THROUGH YOUR MONITOR.
posted by desjardins at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2011


Taking a break. Things could be a little better coordinated sometimes--while Trumka was speaking, a huge column of school kids circled the square (much more entertaining, IMO) and Jessie Jackson emerged from the capitol, where he addressed the crowd. Another rally, featuring him, at 5pm tonight.
posted by Mngo at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2011


Whatever you do, don't read the Joe Klein piece at Time (Google "Hemlock Revolution" I ain't linking it) if you want to keep your blood pressure low. Shorter version: UNION PEOPLE AND PROTESTERS WANT TO KILL UR DEMOCRACY!!111!!!!
posted by emjaybee at 12:14 PM on February 18, 2011


Tip of the day: never look at the comments on JSOnline. YOUR BRAIN WILL MELT AND YOU WILL PUT YOUR FIST THROUGH YOUR MONITOR.

This often applies to my local newspaper in a supposedly onetime union (GM) town.
posted by dhartung at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2011


I fucking hate Joe Klein. He's one of the reasons we even need a word like "shill."
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm, is this article true?

Sorry if it's been posted before - Madison will lose federal transport funds if State doesn't allow collective bargaining for workers? I think I heard some of that, previously, but didn't realize to what extent it actually affected things (I thought it meant road construction funds, not public transport funding for localities).

This guy has got to go now.
posted by symbioid at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google "Hemlock Revolution" I ain't linking it


AHHH FUCK FUCK FUCK WHY'D I DO THAT.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Emotional masochism seems to be strong on the left, thsmchnekllsfascists.
posted by QIbHom at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2011


But Joe Klein has that sensible beard! (Christ, what an asshole)
posted by symbioid at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jokeline.
posted by dhartung at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh noes, they have Summoned Breitbart!
posted by emjaybee at 12:26 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


UNION PEOPLE AND PROTESTERS WANT TO KILL UR DEMOCRACY!!111!!!!

If by "democracy" they mean "plutocracy," and if by "ur" they mean "our"...then yes.

It seems to me that the Cock Brothers' key tactical error here was trying this shit in Wisconsin.

I'm trying not to be optimistic here, knowing how skilled Democrats are at squandering opportunities, but damn. I've said it before and I'll say it again... I sure wish I was in Madison right now.
posted by AugieAugustus at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2011


Breitbart is a beholder.
posted by Severian at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2011


I too wish I could be in Madison.

This shits has got to end...

Or the sedtionists will get the civil war that they have such a God damned hard on for.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


they have Summoned Breitbart!

Well someone spoke of the devil, because apparently he's on his fucking way. And it looks like he's bringing his demonic minions with him:

[from the link]

And there may also be a cameo appearance by Joe "The Plumber" Wurtzelbacher, who tweeted Friday morning that he was headed to Madison to "do some interviews."

Seriously Mr. Plumber, please stay the hell out of my state.

Thanks.
posted by quin at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe "The Plumber" Wurtzelbacher

Jesus, do people still care about that guy? I though his fifteen minutes was up a long time ago.
posted by echo target at 12:43 PM on February 18, 2011


You know how 15 minutes in hell seems like an eternity?

It's kinda like that in the Tea Party.
posted by symbioid at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2011


I though his fifteen minutes was up a long time ago.

His continued relevance is proof that Republicans believe firmly in welfare.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also semi credible reports that Palin is also going tomorrow, 1/2 term Gov, fake plumber.. quite the line up.
posted by edgeways at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2011


Seriously? I'm going to be working during my best chance to throw a rotten cabbage at ma grizzly and Joe the rubbbernecker?
posted by Severian at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2011


Palin is also going tomorrow

This is starting to feel even stuntier than before. Fuck astroturf.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2011


Also semi credible reports that Palin is also going tomorrow

Well, now I'm really tempted to make a road trip.
posted by desjardins at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2011


Didn't a Joe Klein run for the County Exec position VS Walker?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:59 PM on February 18, 2011


Man, hearing about Palin going there is filling me with all sorts of obscenities and bad wishes that I'm usually free of. There's nothing good about that person when she leaves her zipcode.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's nothing good about that person when she leaves her zipcode.

Perhaps she'll tell Walker how to resign?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:01 PM on February 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


Following the Twitter hashtags, it seems like the anti-protester sentiment runs like this:

1. Suck it up, your elected officials are elected so you shouldn't be protesting what they do.

2. Unions just want your sweet, sweet paychecks via dues so they can do [unspecified]

3. If you've got a job you have no right to protest your working conditions!

Pretty thin stuff.
posted by emjaybee at 1:22 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, it's a sad society when it's more common for people say "suck it up" instead of "let me help you up."
posted by desjardins at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


1. Suck it up, your elected officials are elected so you shouldn't be protesting what they do.

Ha! Coming from the people made famous by protesting Obama, that's pretty damn funny.
posted by quin at 1:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ha! Coming from the people made famous by protesting Obama, that's pretty damn funny.

Come on quin, they deserve to be famous. They tried so hard and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2011


The pro-Walker arguments I've seen are essentially a race to the bottom. It goes something like this: why should state workers have better than avg benefits in exchange for lower than avg pay if there are people making the same $ for no benefits at all? It's as if they can't extend their logic one step further.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:03 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty fun time lapse vid of the crowd at the noon rally today.
posted by Mngo at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm just a pea-brained housewife who doesn't understand all these terribly complicated issues like economics and politics but I am especially confused by the mixed messages I get from the Republican Party: "Work hard. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Practice fiscal responsibility. Don't expect the government to solve your problems." But isn't staying in school and getting an advanced degree "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps"? Isn't getting a job with good benefits practicing fiscal responsibility? If having a National Health Care Plan is such a bad idea than surely getting insurance through your employer is the ideal situation. So why do I get the feeling that being a College Professor with a good income and good benefits is close to being unamerican?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It goes something like this: why should state workers have better than avg benefits in exchange for lower than avg pay if there are people making the same $ for no benefits at all? It's as if they can't extend their logic one step further.

It's all predicated on some twisted notion of "fairness," where "treating people fairly" means knocking people down to the same level, rather than raising them up.
posted by desjardins at 2:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


So why do I get the feeling that being a College Professor with a good income and good benefits is close to being unamerican?

It's the elbow patches.
posted by desjardins at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because never in the history of ever would you have a case where a state has exhausted its "nursing home inspector" budget by overspending on the "pensions for firefighters" line on the budget.
- callypigos

San Francisco faces an unfunded retiree health care liability of 4.36 billion. Apparently workers hired before Jan 9, 2009 were eligible for "health care for life after only five years on the city payroll".

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/12/health_liability_billion.php

In this case, more money spent on health care for retirees does translate into less money for other things like firefighter or nursing home inspectors.

Why were city employees granted this largess? In this case, their collective bargaining SCREWED their fellow citizens to the tune of $5400 each (4.36 billion/805,000 citizens). Yes, I know, it's the city's fault for offering it to them. But it wouldn't have happened without politicians who wanted to be able to count on union support at re-election time.

Also, if you accept that government workers make less once you take into account their higher level of education, you also have to treat as a key benefit the incredible job security they enjoy. Being able to count on never being fired is a benefit. Sorry I can't lay my hands on the statistics on how many teachers were fired nationwide last year for incompetence.

All this to say that there are negative externalities to collective bargaining rights, as well as positive ones, such as the many hard-won benefits that workers enjoy today.
posted by etherist at 2:16 PM on February 18, 2011


You're not supposed to actually do the bootstrap thing. It's just the line they like to use to shame people for class differences. The end goal is to make any kind of upward financial mobility damn near impossible while claiming anyone can do it if they worked harder.
posted by cmyk at 2:19 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is definitely the kind of situation the president needs to weigh in on. It's a bit tricky, though, in this way: If he comes down on labor's side by claiming government overreach then he'll open a can of worms over the health care mandate the right has been pushing so hard against.

He really needs to make the stand that unions=apple pie and baseball, that he's a good Democrat, and Democrats support unions, period. Even if he doesn't really believe that he could hide behind taking a "principled" stand. The jaded side of me says it would help him pick up tons of lost midwest and progressive votes, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being able to count on never being fired is a benefit.

I agree. It would be. If that benefit actually, you know, existed.
Sheesh.
posted by Floydd at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


In case there was any question, Koch astroturf stands with Walker.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:23 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, if you accept that government workers make less once you take into account their higher level of education, you also have to treat as a key benefit the incredible job security they enjoy.

That's a pretty big if.

I've worked a few public sector and private sector jobs in my life. Here's how job security works in the real world :

If the person responsible for deciding to fire you likes you, you probably can keep your job. If that person doesn't like you, you're pretty well screwed.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry I can't lay my hands on the statistics on how many teachers were fired nationwide last year for incompetence.

It doesn't matter, because in order for it to be a meaningful statistic, you'd have to know how many were actually incompetent, how many private-sector employees were fired for incompetence, and how many of those were actually incompetent. In every place I've ever worked in the private sector, there have been people who (in my opinion) deserved to be fired and weren't.

If you're measuring job security, you also have to factor in how many teachers have been laid off vs. private-sector jobs. And really, this involves all sorts of government jobs, so I don't know why the focus is on teachers.
posted by desjardins at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




I agree. It would be. If that benefit actually, you know, existed.

Ehhhhh. I'm not an American, but I do work for a publicly funded institution with a collective bargaining unit.

It would be extremely difficult for anyone that passed the two year probationary period here to get fired. Emphasis on extremely, although it has happened. And "never get fired" is hyperbolic, but not entirely so.

Are some people here incompetent or dead weight? Probably. But do you know what? The atmosphere it creates is well worth it. It's a much more positive place to work, without all of the sneakiness and cut throatedness I dealt with in the private sector. There's no jealousy about salaries, we have total openness about it. There's no getting fired for having the wrong politics, or annoying the wrong people.

We just do our jobs. And most of us do them well... because we take pride in our work. (Or in some cases, possibly want transferable skills) If there are downsides to job protection, they are far out weighted by the advantages. I don't for a second believe that the private sector could do what I do better, and I'm totally against this mad race to the bottom.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:27 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


If "having to pay for employee health benefits for life" is the problem, my friend, then national healthcare is the obvious solution. Of course, we can't have that because something something socialism.
posted by emjaybee at 2:27 PM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


... so I don't know why the focus is on teachers.

'Cause they are one of the few unions big enough to fight back.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


In this case, their collective bargaining SCREWED their fellow citizens to the tune of $5400 each (4.36 billion/805,000 citizens).

etherist, that would only be the case if the city taxpayers must pay the entire unfunded liability right now, today. Instead, the fund will likely be replenished through higher payments collected from current employees under succeeding contracts.

Your math resembles that of some pundits left unnamed.

there are negative externalities to collective bargaining rights

Surely you aren't suggesting that the right to collective bargaining is itself implicated here. Because that would make you a demagogue, or perhaps a troll.

The fact that no citizens, no city councillors, no mayors, no union negotiators, or whomever you want to blame, noticed this unfunded liability before now has very little to do with the liability being negotiated in the first place. The city apparently agreed that it could afford these contracts, but then allowed the liability to increase by borrowing rather than funding it, which only increased the liability further. Is that the result of collective bargaining itself? Or of shortsighted management? Or of deliberate short-changing of an agreed burden?
posted by dhartung at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


San Francisco faces an unfunded retiree health care liability of 4.36 billion. Apparently workers hired before Jan 9, 2009 were eligible for "health care for life after only five years on the city payroll".

And ..... thanks for the New Times "public employees unions are murdering us all" astroturf. Not to deny that San Francisco has serious pension liability problems. But even the Weekly admits the following, in a piece linked by the post that your URL leads to:

This isn't a uniquely San Franciscan problem. Cities and states across the country are facing a pension and health care meltdown. In fact, compared to many retirement systems nationwide, San Francisco's has been well run. There's no rampant corruption (cough, cough, Bell), and it wasn't spectacularly mismanaged (Achoo! San Diego). Many retirement systems would gladly trade places with this city's.
posted by blucevalo at 2:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a open goal to eliminate teacher unions. Perhaps you have heard of this thing called the charter school movement?

My sister's first teaching job was for a charter school that burned through teachers. I think she ended up being fired 3/4 of the way through the school year. She pretty much swore off ever working for a charter again (or any non-union school) and a few years later in her new position at a public school was nominated for and won a state-wide teacher of the year award.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet labor laws would be a lot better of politicians had to work to the scantest legally allowed conditions.

Otherwise, let's take a page from the republican book: the competition would do them some good, and come on, there must be millions of people ready to take the jobs if they don't want them.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


etherist- In the specific case of Wisconsin, the WRS is 97% funded.
posted by Jpfed at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


First time commenting in this thread, but I have to say that like others here I am inspired to action. I'm nowhere close to Madison, so I guess I'll have to wait, and offer my support over the internet.

Upthread someone mentioned the lack of unionization among librarians. I work in a library, and recently (because of these events) started thinking about joining a union, even though I think we have decent working conditions and I love my job. More out of solidarity with workers generally, I guess--and to be ready to act just in case it's someday necessary.

But a coworker told me that she had heard that someone else, who has been working in the system as a paraprofessional for over a decade, earned an MLIS but can't get a job as a librarian now. Not for lack of openings (I have known people to get librarian positions since), but why? Because he'd joined a union. I am going to discreetly investigate this rumor a little more, but it's really chilling. I had thought our system (even on the administrative level) to be pretty benign, even friendly. Kind of scary if it's true.
posted by manguero at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]



I was down at the capitol earlier today.

Democracy so loud it will make your ears bleed. It was a sight to behold. My ears are still ringing.

With the Tea Party showing up tomorrow, I bet downtown will be crazy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well this kind of forces the "it's just about balancing the budget" issue - the head of the state's largest union agreed to the concession of benefits if they can keep their bargaining rights (JSOnline)
posted by desjardins at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just got this note from my assemblywoman after writing support today:
Thank you to the thousands of constituents who have contacted me to express opposition to Governor Walker’s attack on workers’ rights. As you know, I am strongly opposed to this attempt to destroy the Wisconsin Way. This bill is the most anti-worker legislation in Wisconsin’s history, and I will continue to do everything I can to defeat it.

As I write this update, our Capitol is once again filled with tens of thousands of taxpayers, all here to peacefully rally for our rights. They are here to stop this Republican scheme to take away the rights Wisconsin’s nurses, teachers, EMTs and other workers.

One week ago, most thought passage of Walker’s manufactured “budget” scam was inevitable.

But your actions – your letters, phone calls, and rallying at the Capitol – are making the difference!

On Monday, the bill’s backers were confident they had the votes to ram this terrible bill through the State Senate by Thursday. They failed. The Republican controlled Joint Committee on Finance tried to silence Wisconsin’s citizens by shutting down the public hearing. They failed. And today, the Republican Assembly leaders tried to silence me and my Democratic colleagues. They failed, thanks to the citizens who have to come to Rally for Rights. Like the Republicans’ tactics, this response from citizens is unprecedented.

In Wisconsin, we solve problems by working together, not by denying workers a place at the table and refusing to listen to them.

Public employees are willing to make sacrifices and have sacrificed, but they are not willing to sacrifice their rights—and neither am I. No worker should be asked to silence their voice for a paycheck.

I am doing everything in my power to stop this attack on the rights of Wisconsin workers, and encourage you to keep making your voice heard. Together, we will ensure that we live “Fightin’ Bob” LaFollette’s legacy, that “the will of the people shall be the law of the land.”

Yours in Solidarity,

KELDA HELEN ROYS
posted by symbioid at 2:52 PM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


It'd be sweet if Walker ended up removing that clause on bargaining, but I know that's not his goal. But if he did, we could point and say "See, Obama, THAT is how you fucking Bargain." REACH for the sky and THEN compromise. Not the half-way position (of course, we're assuming he actually wanted a middle of the road, not center-right position on health-care) (OK, sorry for the derail).
posted by symbioid at 2:54 PM on February 18, 2011




Well this kind of forces the "it's just about balancing the budget" issue - the head of the state's largest union agreed to the concession of benefits if they can keep their bargaining rights.

If they'd done this via contract negotiation, they could have expected benefit or even salary cuts like most public employees have been receiving. Furlough days, hiring freezes, salary freezes, and lost benefits have been pretty much the norm over the last year or so. That would save the employer money, and unions have been reasonable about negotiating them. (Too reasonable, if you ask me.)

So you're right, stripping away collective bargaining rights is a different story entirely, as we've harped on repeatedly. They want to take away the ability of the workers to fight to get these things back when the crisis is over, and the ability to stand up for themselves on things like harassment and unfair treatment.

To restate most of this thread: totally bullshit. Transparent bullshit.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:59 PM on February 18, 2011


Woops, that first line should be a quote.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2011


It's cool that so many are uptown, but why are so many liberals driving foreign cars?
posted by Flex1970 at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2011


but why are so many liberals driving foreign cars?

Because there's no such thing as a domestically manufactured car anymore?
posted by Trochanter at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2011


In Flint, GM makes factory disappear.
posted by clavdivs at 3:03 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because the regulatory system's been jobbed so bad that "Made in America" essentially means:"This Sticker Proudly Affixed In The USA"?
posted by Trochanter at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


why are so many liberals driving foreign cars?

Foolish concerns with comfort, fuel efficiency, and build quality, no doubt.
posted by dhartung at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]




but why are so many liberals driving foreign cars?

Because there's no such thing as a domestically manufactured car anymore?




mutter mutter something something something value of an education something something value of a union
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Assembly resumed session slightly sooner than the announced 5pm time, and they are no longer accepting amendments. Representative Barca is very angry.
posted by Jpfed at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2011


At one time, UAW halls had signs that read "No Foreign cars allowed", really. Different Union, different times. Does Wis. politics have alot of local "re-call fever" going on.
posted by clavdivs at 3:08 PM on February 18, 2011


My bus driver is unionized.
posted by klangklangston at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2011


clavdivs: the GM parking lots had similar signs (I think they were amended or removed around the time our plant started a joint venture with Isuzu, though).

As for recall fever, not generally, no. We had a DA who text-messaged a sexual assault victim with salacious come-ons, but the governor removed him when the Office of Lawyer Regulation did nothing, before a recall effort could be mounted; and our former Democratic (and local UAW President before that) Assembly Majority Leader was caught dallying with a female lobbyist while unofficially separated, but nothing came of that, either, other than him losing back in November.

There is a movement afoot to get the paperwork in order for recalling Walker the day that state law makes it legal, which is one year from his January 1 inauguration. We'll see if people are still up for it then. I hope so.

(Mainly, people seem to be ignorant of how their own government works. For instance, suggesting that the legislators who went to Rockford should be "fired" -- by whom, the Governor?)
posted by dhartung at 3:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry I can't lay my hands on the statistics on how many teachers were fired nationwide last year for incompetence. -etherist

It doesn't matter, because in order for it to be a meaningful statistic, you'd have to know how many were actually incompetent, how many private-sector employees were fired for incompetence, and how many of those were actually incompetent. In every place I've ever worked in the private sector, there have been people who (in my opinion) deserved to be fired and weren't.
- desjardins

Not true. You can still make inferences without knowing the exact rate of teacher incompetence. And you don't need to know the true rates of incompetence in other fields to be able to interpret the rate for teachers. That's just a smokescreen for the fact that yes, it's hard to fire a teacher. It's hard to fire other government employees as well, a lot harder than firing private-sector workers. Do you seriously dispute that? Yes, if your boss hates you, it's harder to keep your job. That's true all over.

How many teachers lost their jobs for poor performance recently in New York?

"The New York Daily News reports that 'over the past three years [2007-2010], just 88 out of some 80,000 city schoolteachers have lost their jobs for poor performance.'". In Chicago, the rate over a similar 3-year period is 0.1%. That's job security for you!

I mention teachers only because it's possible to find examples. If I wanted data on unionized librarians, I'd be out of luck.
posted by etherist at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2011


There is a movement afoot to get the paperwork in order for recalling Walker the day that state law makes it legal, which is one year from his January 1 inauguration. We'll see if people are still up for it then. I hope so.

Eight state senators can be recalled now, however.

I hope that the dems manage to put some money towards making that happen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




And if 3 of those seats flip the whole Senate flips
posted by edgeways at 3:24 PM on February 18, 2011


I think it's possible to believe that unions are a good thing, possibly required, and acknowledge that maybe some unions don't function well in reflecting back to the employer the same kind of respect which they demand for their workers.

In other words, it's conceivable that while the only protection that workers have against strong employers may be unions, it's possible that the union (in some cases) may have established protections in place which have unforseen consequences, and then the unions refuse to budge on those items.
posted by hippybear at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2011


Unfunded pension and healthcare liabilites end up sounding a lot scarier then they really are. Yes they are a problem - partially because politicians decided it was easy to kick the can down the road when the entered into collective bargain agreements in the past, partially because what assets there were in the plans were used to plug budget gaps in other years rather then raising taxes, partially because the Unions themselves didn't know that they needed to protect those contributions.

The other point is that as long as population is stable and municipalities remain able to levy taxes they really aren't insurmountable. For example - to close that OPEB underfunding in San Francisco - which is bad, you need to increase revenues by 10%. And that would actually fully fund the liability. But realistically even that is massively overstating the issues. There is nothing wrong with PAYG - pay as you go - as long as the city still exists. PAYG is dangerous when it is a business that can go away, or can see profits decline - such as the Auto industry. But cities? A risk sure, but nothing like how the republicans pitch the issue.

And this is all before you get into a discussion of how the math on calculating those obligations works. Small changes to certain estimates on things like healthcare cost inflation (for example the SF Controller is assuming 8.5% in perpetuity) can make the liability appear much smaller from an actuarial perspective.
posted by JPD at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weebot: "Boehner Slams Obama's Organizing for America For 'Colluding' With Union Protestors
"

Oh Boehner, that's really fucking rich. I look forward to your criticism of the Tea Party Patriots/Express or whatever the fuck Republican machine that is that's co-opted the Tea Party movement.

*chirpchirp*

posted by symbioid at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Chicago, the rate over a similar 3-year period is 0.1%. That's job security for you!

You're working from a flawed premise. You're only counting firings and not resignations and non renewals. Further, in order to ascertain whether .01% or 99% is too high or too low you'd have to know something about how many "incompentent" teachers one should reasonably expect in a given time period.

And you ignore other remediations such as retraining, and better hiring practices and so on.

Taking all factors into account is hard work though. Easier to just hurfdurf unions suck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


ETA - it isn't really an incremental 10%, its an Incremental 5% on top of what the city is already spending on current retirees.
posted by JPD at 3:29 PM on February 18, 2011


Yeah, but did he cry when he made the slam?
posted by edgeways at 3:29 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those signs kinda bothered me back then. I'm looking for a pattern on local politics and how it effects state politics concerning voter dissatisfaction. Here in michigan, this local re-call fever is beyond the pale is is just now starting to wind down. And it is not isolated to the cities, it is a state wide ordeal.
posted by clavdivs at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2011


Paul Ryan: "it’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days."

He'd better fucking hope not.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


hey comment 666:

looks like the WI Assembly (not the Senate) tried to pass the budget by voice vote without debate or amendment process before the Dems entered the room, they got shouted at and finally agreed to reconsider. Will adjourn until Tuesday
posted by edgeways at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2011


>> The Assembly resumed session slightly sooner than the announced 5pm time, and they are no longer accepting amendments. Representative Barca is very angry.

Update

(Republicans have agreed to rescind that action, and amendments will be considered)
posted by Vibrissa at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2011


Looks like the Fake Budget Crisis story is starting to gain at least a little traction outside of Wi in the media.
posted by edgeways at 3:38 PM on February 18, 2011


Well we got from here to here fast: "RNC Enters Wisconsin Public Sector Union Battle"
posted by Weebot at 3:43 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hearing rumors of a flash mob at Water & Wisconsin in Milwaukee (cannot confirm). I would love for this to spread to Milwaukee, mostly because I'm selfishly lazy and don't want to drive.
posted by desjardins at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Judge denies Madison School District request to stop teacher sick-out - WSJ
posted by edgeways at 3:48 PM on February 18, 2011


I'm listening to a caller on WPR going on about how she has worked for the same company for 25 years without health insurance or paid vacation and if she can do it so can others.

Race to the bottom!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:50 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


He'd better fucking hope not.

Ryan is from Congress, and Madison is not in his district. He is very much in philosophical cahoots with Walker & Co, though (see the various articles on the Koch influence).

Eight state senators can be recalled now, however.

On first blush, none of them look particularly vulnerable. The district lines have been in place for a decade and most of these guys are in safe GOP districts, which goes along with the existing fact that they are not union-employment heavy districts. Consider that they were all elected the same vote that gave the state to Obama.
posted by dhartung at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2011


Let's take the fairness to its logical conclusions. For example, I'm hearing impaired so I'm going to stab you in the ear.
posted by desjardins at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Judge denies Madison School District request to stop teacher sick-out - WSJ

I wish you'd have put a link, because I googled "Judge denies Madison School District" and ended up on lucianne.com. I had never seen that sight before, and now my head hurts.

(lucianne.com is apparently very right-wing, for those not already in the know)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:55 PM on February 18, 2011


Wow, #wiunion is a trending topic now.
posted by desjardins at 3:58 PM on February 18, 2011


I think it's possible to believe that unions are a good thing, possibly required, and acknowledge that maybe some unions don't function well in reflecting back to the employer the same kind of respect which they demand for their workers.

In other words, it's conceivable that while the only protection that workers have against strong employers may be unions, it's possible that the union (in some cases) may have established protections in place which have unforseen consequences, and then the unions refuse to budge on those items.


I dunno, hippybear, that kind of nuanced view doesn't go over very well here.
posted by etherist at 4:04 PM on February 18, 2011




Benny, Lucianne Goldberg was a behind-the-scenes mover during the Lewinsky scandal that led to the impeachment of Clinton, and her son Jonah has been a National Review contributing editor for almost a decade.

Frankly, by 2011 standards, she's a pretty tame tag-along. Her readership probably doesn't like their morning porridge interrupted by a blood boil.

and then the unions refuse to budge on those items

Oh dear! Why, mean mean unions then! It could, of course, never be the case that employers have unreasonable positions on which they refuse to budge!

Look, it is the job of the union to advocate for the workforce. They do not have to internalize the worldview of the employer or the balanced outsider. They advocate, contracts are negotiated, and guess what, if the contract is unreasonable the employer doesn't have to sign. In fact, increasingly since around 1980, the employers have just shut the company or plant down, moved production overseas, etc. etc. etc. So maybe the unions have a right to be hard-assed themselves once in a while. They have precious few levers of influence remaining.
posted by dhartung at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


hippybear: in this specific case of the governor blatantly trying to strip state employee unions of the ability to collectively bargain what are you saying?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2011


I changed my FB status to: "Anyone who feels like state employees should suck it up and sacrifice just as much as you have - what exactly have you done to reduce the state deficit? Did you willingly pay more in taxes? How does what you pay for your healthcare have anything to do with reducing the state deficit? OR IS IT NOT REALLY ABOUT THE DEFICIT....."
posted by desjardins at 4:13 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


etherist: it may interest you to know that 15% of the money contributed to the WI retirement fund each year goes to Wall Street in fees.

But yes, let's focus on those greedy state workers and their unions (except, of course, for the police and firefighters because they're totes cool as far as Walker in concerned) instead.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beautifully edited video of the last 3 days of protests (Vimeo)

Who the hell is arcade fire?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, dhartung.

(I washed my eyeballs, and all is well)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2011


Desjardins, that's exactly it! I get so pissed when I hear these people "Oh we must all share the sacrifice" ORLY? Then why are you refusing to pay more in taxes, what's your sacrifice? GAH!
posted by symbioid at 4:27 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


etherist: it may interest you to know that 15% of the money contributed to the WI retirement fund each year goes to Wall Street in fees.

But yes, let's focus on those greedy state workers and their unions (except, of course, for the police and firefighters because they're totes cool as far as Walker in concerned) instead.


A lot of people have a dichotomy in their heads when presented with such a comparison. On the one hand a 15% fee to Wall Street goes into the "thats fine" box. It is rationalized as a reasonable payment for an efficient and prudent service (the management of the peoples money). On the other hand, making a similar payment to unions or states workers filters into the "totally unaccetable" box. It is somehow, some way, NOT rationalized as an investment and as such it must be a "hand out." I am really interested in how and why it is that many people just don't seem to think Government Spending is any different than spending on any other good or service.

You are paying for a product / service. You just happen to be buying from the Government. Yes, it might be mismanaged. Sure, there will be scandals from time to time. AS THERE ARE IN PRIVATE MARKETS. The main difference, as I see it, is that at the very least I am a stakeholder in my purchase just by virtue of being a citizen. A government service, at the very least pays lipservice to the idea that it is accountable to the people en-masse - whereas a corporate or private service is accountable only to the shareholders (not that there is a problem with this).

The discourse in this country with regard to the worth of public / government spending is so distorted I sometimes get discouraged. I wouldn't have imagined that US political polarization would have become even more pronounced after the early 2000's - yet here it is.
posted by jnnla at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


*unacceptable
posted by jnnla at 4:34 PM on February 18, 2011


I dunno, hippybear, that kind of nuanced view doesn't go over very well here.

I think that kind of nuanced view goes over better on MetaFilter than just about anywhere else on the Internet. Here, I'll start. I don't think every single thing unions do is good. I don't think every employee in the state needs to be an a union; for instance, I am an employee of the state of Wisconsin and I don't belong to a union. In other words, I think our views are not very different.

I also think that, while Scott Walker has some interest in improving the state's budgetary situation, his primary goal is to eliminate a reliable source of Democratic campaign contributions. I think this because he exempted more Republican-leaning union workers (police and firefighters) from the changes, while going after the staunchly Democratic teachers union.

The governor has not, as far as I can see, offered a compelling reason that I and other state employees should give up the collective bargaining rights that every other employee in the state has. I think this is a bad bill and I support efforts to block or moderate it.

It seems to me that this view puts me pretty much at the dead center of commenters here. How much more nuanced do you want us to get?
posted by escabeche at 4:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


From Twitter:
This is what the Teacher's Unions spend OUR taxpayer $$ on http://bit.ly/eYFBSu
Ok, I think I see the problem here. Looks like some people are confusing "taxes paid" with "salary earned." After the state employee gets their check, it stops being OurTaxMoneyTM and becomes their wages. Imagine following a teacher around as she shops in her grocery store. "Steak, no. Hamberger, yes. Put that foreign muck back on the shelves, missy. How dare you spend our tax money on honey-mustard pretzels!"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is what the Teacher's Unions spend OUR taxpayer $$ on http://bit.ly/eYFBSu

Wait until they see Defence Contractor Cribs!
posted by jaduncan at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread is just moving along on greased rails so apologies in advance if I'm addressing a thought already presented, but the following comment from has been echoing troublingly in my head:

What would America look like if the left won?

And it comes out in dozens of fragmented pieces in my mind. There are so many worthwhile issues that really can be summarized in the idea of greater justice and equality and social freedom and a country where the people have the loudest voice not the corporations and the billionaires buying everything up including the government, state and local.

But it's troubling how it can't be coalesced and made neat into a comprehensive vision and narrative of the kind available on the Right. Of the kind Reagan came to represent when he talked about "a shining city on the hill" etc... The man may have been senile and in retrospect a terrible thing for the middle class in, but damn if he couldn't put together a common narrative.

One so strong he's been deified and that has endured and been co-opted by countless of pols and in the media and like many in a fantastical mob hysteria, these folks are in swoon to it and become loud and angry with anything that doesn't follow it's plot lines. Especially what appears to be a Sci-Fi President, brilliant, articulate, capable, half black.

He's like their nightmare of a new George Washington or a new Lincoln, that takes off with a new vision of the nation, that's definitely NOT in their plot line of the future in the U.S.

Yet, when I think of the goal of Progressives and the Left I think of FDR and, I try not to think about the 60s and how hollow those ideals eventually proved themselves and how culturally and politically hungover the country became in the 70s. And drabby and unfocused and lost. Full of doubts on what it was as a nation, and a deep fear that it's best times were behind it.

So along comes this vision from the past in Reagan. Paternal, confident, with a steady hand and a easy charismatic manner, he took the doubts away AND he provided this mass dream that looked forward, by looking back, Hell he didn't even need to look into the past, he WAS the past. The secure safe past he represented in his movies. Neat tidy, with good endings and no doubts or fears. And also looked forward with the novel idea (or so it seemed) that government was the problem, not the nation as a whole. It's the government that's got you all filled up with doubt and fear, these overthinking idealist idiot hippy democrats. The man came into office with a fully blown narrative and persona.

It's a huge source of frustration with Obama, that he, with his considerable gifts for oratory and writing, has not yet given the nation something to eclipse that Reaganite vision. Granted it's much more difficult to put together a narrative and vision that has so many disparate elements, the integrity can't hold it it just seems like a mish mash and a collage of goals. Not even a full story with a strong singular compelling theme running through it, but something that's got a lot of good pieces that never come together fully. It's like a collection of wandering thoughtful short stories looking for delicate meanings with uneasy endings that never fully resolve as opposed to a cohesive kick ass satisfying mass market novel with an ending you predicted half-way through it.

Obama, realizes this, and he's begun sampling Reagan a bit. At last months State of the Union address, echoed that sense of optimism and of a shared dream and the idea that America's best days are ahead of it, but he couldn't make it truly his, perhaps he's too young a man to have the gravitas and fullness of ego to embody the whole thing up within himself. It would be scary if he could. Also maybe because he's not an actor, with an actor's natural tendency to own the script, and be the face of it.

But I think in time, like a songwriter cutting his or her chops on standards like Dylan did by covering classic folks songs on his first album, he stands a chance of finding his voice. A truly powerful and enlightening voice. He's the best chance we got for that on the left.

So there's these two visions: One phony, but cohesive and compelling and powerful and attractive in it's seductive fantasy and then there's the other, on the Left: Real, raw, and therefore off-putting, idealistic, unifying narrative and therefore no seductive common goal. Also, I might add, damaged and made corrupted by endless perversion and lies on the Right, as dangerous, alien, unamerican, apocalyptic and sweepingly monolithic. Selfish, anti-Christian, and anti-family and therefore anti-paternalistic (anti-Reagan).

And messy, so messy.

But it would seem that for one thing there needs to be a renewal on the Left and within Progressivism, one that embodies the ideals of the past, but looks forward into the 21st century with a compelling dream that many will want to share in, and that demographic is ascendant: Young people, Women, Immigrants (Hispanic, Asian), alternative lifestylers, the burgeoning creative class, and urban folks, hipsters so an so forth. So there is a new consciousness coming to the fore ever slowly and one that can't fathom the GOP or TP mindset in it's anachronistic qualities or share in their vision not because they don't want too or don't believe in the market or Capitalism or fiscal conservativism, or repsonsibility or hard work, but rather because they have no place in it.


From the way things are shaping up in Wisconsin, what is happening there is no mistake and no coincidence. The amount of tension that is coming to bear in this and the now exposed hypocrisy and corruption of Scott Walker creating a $140 million dollar shortfall so as to be able to manufacture the need for removal of the collective bargaining powers of the Unions (this is like going to a dentist for a toothache and having your liver removed instead), and this confrontation was meant to be the opening salvo against the unionized middle class in the midwest, there's no doubt that Ohio, Indiana, Florida and even Michigan, with their respective KOCH tea party Govs will follow suit in spite of what happens in Wisconsin it would seem. I think they are THAT focussed and bloody-minded about this. It's like something out of a conspiracy novel really. The nation being profoundly changed in one sweeping wave of political influence.

But the upside is maybe finally the left finally, finally has the fire under it ass it needs to renew itself and re-imagine itself and capture the minds, hearts and consciousness of the country again.

And the arts (Music, theater, film, novels, stories, memoirs) have got to do their part, political art usually sucks, sometimes it's done right, but it's not about bare bones politics, it's about a common dreaming. How can this country share in a common dreaming and vision that doesn't have servitude to wealth and power in it?
posted by Skygazer at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Just got home from the evening rally, and though my feet are freezing my heart is warm! It seems that the Legislature is adjourned until Tuesday and Walker is delaying introducing his budget, perhaps in hopes that he can outlast the protesters (Monday is a scheduled state employee furlough day and many will be able to take to the streets). There is a Tea Party sponsored "counter rally" tomorrow. Any kindred souls from MeFi in favor of worker rights would be welcome in Madison this weekend.
posted by Fin Azvandi at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's not *just* a power grab to kill off the unions, it's also about killing off medicaid!

This provision would give the Walker administration carte blanche authority to make far-reaching changes within vital health programs - including the spectrum of BadgerCare plans, Family Care and SeniorCare - with only minimal review by the Republican-controlled budget committee.

Among other things, the secretary of the Department of Health Services - under the direction of Walker - would have unilateral authority to modify benefit levels, reduce income levels for purposes of determining eligibility and authorize providers to deny care or services if a program benefit recipient is unable to share costs.

DHS would be authorized to sidestep current law requirements for the promulgation of emergency rules, which require a showing that the rule is immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety or welfare to implement these changes. Emergency rules do not require notice, hearing and publication requirements applicable to ordinary rules. In addition, DHS would be authorized to extend these changes indefinitely. Under current law, emergency rules can only be in effect for 150 days. Extensions of emergency rules under current law cannot exceed an additional 120 days.

These rule changes could be put into effect without the approval of the full Legislature. Instead, the only legislative oversight would be passive review by the Joint Finance Committee, which is not required to hold a public hearing even in the event of an objection.

These drastic changes being rushed through the legislative process would allow unelected bureaucrats to trump the will of the Legislature and override existing statutes. In fact, a drafting note from the Legislative Reference Bureau calls the constitutionality of this provision into question. It would open the door to far-reaching changes to our state's vital medical assistance programs without any public input - all under the guise of a "budget adjustment" bill.

posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:22 PM on February 18, 2011


cool, bagpipers. Bagpipers is a good sign.

It's like something out of a conspiracy novel really.
{digs out copy of "The Man"}

do not be sure about michigan. MUCH different creature here.
posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on February 18, 2011




your = The President, obviously, and not you all.
posted by absalom at 5:28 PM on February 18, 2011


Collective bargaining is one of the reasons painters working for the city of San Francisco make $74,000/yr plus benefits, when the market rate is probably about half of that, or maybe 2/3 of that in San Francisco.

So those benefits that the union won for those lucky painters come out of someone else's pocket.

Unions have costs and benefits.
posted by etherist at 5:43 PM on February 18, 2011


etherist, as a physician, what percentage of your income would you say is provided by medicare or medicaid?
posted by maxwelton at 5:54 PM on February 18, 2011



Collective bargaining is one of the reasons painters working for the city of San Francisco make $74,000/yr plus benefits, when the market rate is probably about half of that, or maybe 2/3 of that in San Francisco.

74k is roughly 35 bucks an hour, which is.... well a good electrician or plumber can get that here in WI.

Is that supposed to be exorbitant ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:58 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not to mention that the cost of living is sky-high in San Francisco.

This cost-of-living calculator says a $74000 salary in SF is roughly equivalent to a $36000 salary in Madison.

Sounds about right to me.

I don't know how those non-union painters make it in SF, but if they haven't negotiated the best salary they could, that's no reason to take it out on those who have.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:04 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


How exactly does the Wisconsin recall process work? Is it something which is rocking and rolling right now? On Tuesday, will this be in play at all?
posted by mikelieman at 6:06 PM on February 18, 2011


Etherist: Unions have costs and benefits.

Yee they do, and no offense Etherist but it's not like that money just disappears into the ether. They take their salaries and buy food, and clothes, and hardware and cars, and houses and rent apartments and send their kids to school and college and all that money goes round and round the community and towns they live in creating jobs and services and so on and so forth and their benefits help them stay healthy and live out long productive lives that don' turn into agony and tax their town or state with them having to go to emergency rooms or take too much time off from work, and their kids grow up healthy and go to college and maybe get a good job, and become productive people in their own rights and don't become hopeless criminals and alcoholics and drug addicts or if they do hit a ditch they've got enough knowledge and skill to dig themselves the fuck out, and they have kids and so on and so forth and lots of people get to share in the fucking basic American dream of not having to live in squalor and privation and loneliness and sickness and die terrible fukcing deaths!!!


WHAT. THE. FUCK. do these fuckers on the RIGHT WANT?!?! Do they want mass death and suffering? IS that what they want? Well, why don't they just fuck right off.


I really wish it would be pointed out how a healthy solvent middle class helps everyone. Including the rich.

This egregious terrible black lie that Unions are entitled and the establishment and that the private sector loses out by supporting them is such utter and complete shite..


Christ, can 't yah see?? IF ya don't believe me listen to George Baily tell it.
posted by Skygazer at 6:09 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]



How exactly does the Wisconsin recall process work? Is it something which is rocking and rolling right now? On Tuesday, will this be in play at all?


Basically, a given legislator cannot be recalled until they have been in office for a year. After that period has passed, a recall requires a petition of 25% of the number of voters in the last election.

For the governor, that is 540,000 but for some of the senators it might be as low as 15,000.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:13 PM on February 18, 2011


Basically, a given legislator cannot be recalled until they have been in office for a year. After that period has passed, a recall requires a petition of 25% of the number of voters in the last election.

Well then, as I understand it the Senatorial recalls could be in play right now. That should get some more attention, I think.
posted by mikelieman at 6:17 PM on February 18, 2011


a recall requires a petition of 25% of the number of voters in the last election.

A quick survey of teh Google gives me a link to a Wisconsin report giving the total votes cast in 2010's General Election as 2,171,331

So, we're talking about 550,000 signatures?

Now *this* is an effort which should be on the front pages Tuesday morning.
posted by mikelieman at 6:28 PM on February 18, 2011


My understanding is that the eight Republican senators whose term is more than a year old are fairly safe; these are Republicans who were last elected when Obama was sweeping the state. New GOP Senators from not-very-Republican districts, elected in low-turnout 2010, are the ones most likely to be out of step with their constituents on this bill; but they're not currently eligible for recall.
posted by escabeche at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2011


So, we're talking about 550,000 signatures?

For the governor. But hes not eligible for recall until January of next year.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2011


So, the numbers for State Senators are the numbers from their districts?

I think this is something which has a good chance of working out positively, if not in the actual result of recalling all 8 technically eligible senators, it's going to show those senators on the wrong side of this that there are real consequences.

This is where the locals need to step up and get out there and get the signatures in some crazy short period of time. The fact of having to contend with a recall election is going to be really distracting to those 8 guys.

Man, we're right on the edge of watching politics actually *work* the way it's supposed to .... The suspense is delicious!
posted by mikelieman at 6:39 PM on February 18, 2011


etherist, as a physician, what percentage of your income would you say is provided by medicare or medicaid? - maxwelton

Maybe 15% as best I can figure.

And to Skygazer: It's OK if government overspends on salaries, because the recipients will just spend it all anyhow? Seriously?

Pogo_Fuzzybutt: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for painters in the SF area is about $51k. I doubt those painters have as much in the way of benefits as SF city employees do. According to the BLS, painters for the city of SF make more than 90% of all painters in the area make. So yes, even by the standards of an expensive city, the SF city painters are overpaid. But I thought government workers made less than private sector workers? How can this be?
posted by etherist at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2011


But I thought government workers made less than private sector workers? How can this be?

Figure it out yourself. I'm not your school teacher.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2011


Collective bargaining is one of the reasons painters working for the city of San Francisco make $74,000/yr plus benefits, when the market rate is probably about half of that, or maybe 2/3 of that in San Francisco.

A severely distorted capital market is one of the reasons CEOs for the United States made $9,250,000/yr (average) plus benefits...which increased by 23 percent, when the market rate is *probably* one fifth of that.

So those benefits that the union won for those lucky painters come out of someone else's pocket.

What does this even mean? Unions function as a part of a regulated market. Their contracts are negotiated for the services they provide. Someone agreed to pay that amount based on their negotiations (and really, that's a fair wage for a trade skill in San Francisco although you obviously feel otherwise). Unions are taking advantage of their size to demand more much the same way large companies use scale and momentum to demand less (in the way of raw materials). There is a tension between labor and industry, as there should be.

Also, gains made by many lucky Hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs came out of taxpayer pockets.

Unfairness exists in both private and public spheres and is condemnable in both cases - the only difference between liberal and conservative tends to be which one you turn a blind eye to.


Unions have costs and benefits.

Everything has costs and benefits. Simultaneously. There is no perfection, so ultimately we need to decide which imperfect society might be a better one for its citizens.
posted by jnnla at 7:05 PM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for painters in the SF area is about $51k. I doubt those painters have as much in the way of benefits as SF city employees do. According to the BLS, painters for the city of SF make more than 90% of all painters in the area make. So yes, even by the standards of an expensive city, the SF city painters are overpaid. But I thought government workers made less than private sector workers? How can this be?

It's also possible that 90% of painters are underpaid. Maybe they should join a union!

Actually, it's far more likely that the majority of painters are part-time/seasonal, and therefore annual salaries don't tell the whole story. People who join unions are more likely to full-time workers.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:10 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


hippybear: in this specific case of the governor blatantly trying to strip state employee unions of the ability to collectively bargain what are you saying?

I was actually responding to the comments in the discussion stream more directly ahead of mine, specifically the ones regarding the low firing rate for teachers who maybe have proven themselves incapable at their jobs. It was part of the overall discussion, and not specific to the FPP.
posted by hippybear at 7:11 PM on February 18, 2011


It's OK if government overspends on salaries, because the recipients will just spend it all anyhow? Seriously?

No it's not okay. It's also not okay to make them out to be freeloaders and try to take away their collective bargaining rights, make them bargain for scraps or try and bust them by not collecting union dues or requiring annual votes from their members to justify their continuance and make them vulnerable to political pressure.

Yes, salaries and benefits cost money, but from the narrative on the Right you would think these folks were sitting at home getting paid for nothing.

And yeah, BTW the standards adopted by the public unions are the baseline by which other union rights are judged.

Add to all this how Walker has positioned himself in this situation by creating a $140 million dollar shortfall for tax giveaways to political cronies, refusing high-speed rail funds ($810 million), and high sped internet funds ($23 million) and threatening to call out the National Guard, unintentionally telegraphing the extremity of what he had in mind and threatening these workers with force (military fucking force) and so what you have is a transparent evil coward of a plutocratic man-whore man, creating fear, tension, destroying new jobs in rail and broadband and trying to begin a wave of union busting and working class terrorizing throughout the midwest.

So you tell me, you think unions are the enemy here? Seriously? Just cos they want to retain collective bargaining?

Seriously??

Are you being naive or simply thick?
posted by Skygazer at 7:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


And to Skygazer: It's OK if government overspends on salaries, because the recipients will just spend it all anyhow? Seriously?

First of all, it is not agreed that they overspend. If the govt. doesn't like it, they can try to negotiate. Unions have power, but a painter's union probably won't be able to bring down city government over a wage adjustment. (What's happening in WI is about the right to bargain, not a particular salary level).

And secondly, the military massively overspends, on a constant basis, on projects that everyone admits are make-work to keep towns with defense employers in business, or worse, wars of doubtful or no utility. Yet you never, ever, hear anti union types like yourself complain about military spending, which I am going to safely guess outweighs anything we pay to public union employees.

And investing in a community through spending on public employee salaries is not only ok, it's smart. People in a community spend their money on that community. They buy homes, they pay taxes, they invest in retirement funds, they open bank accounts, they support local businesses, they raise families. Which lowers crime, raises property values, and provides our nation with healthy, productive citizens to keep it going.

It's a hell of a bargain, quite frankly.
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry scratch that last sentence, etherist. Getting way wound up on this Atrocity exhibition from this Scott Walker person.
posted by Skygazer at 7:22 PM on February 18, 2011


Everything has costs and benefits. Simultaneously. There is no perfection, so ultimately we need to decide which imperfect society might be a better one for its citizens. - jnnla

Yes, but this is a thread about unions, not about the fairness of the universe, or about how much hedge fund managers make, or about how astronauts are underpaid, or about how to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time. Granted, overspending on the military industrial complex is bad and hedge fund managers are overpaid. I was simply pointing out that in many cases, unions make workers cost more, or more than market rate, anyhow. Whether or not city painters are overpaid in San Francisco (I think they are, and the BLS agrees), the fact remains that because they are union members, they are paid better than the great majority of their colleagues.

You say that's a fair wage for a trade. Since a "living wage" for a family of two adults and a child in SF is $55,000, I would argue that $74,000 + city benefits for a trade nearly anyone could learn to do in under three months is more than they "should" be paid. I've done my share of painting. It's not rocket science.

If you overpay a city employee, you are doing it with someone else's taxes, which they could have spent to stimulate the economy as they saw fit, except that you took it from them before they could spend it. You say that if the painter's union negotiated this rate, and the city voluntarily agreed to it, that's the market at work and it's the best possible result? I respectfully disagree. The union can deliver votes to the politicians who set their pay. That's more than likely why these painters are overpaid, and that's one of the downsides of unions.

It's not a thread about union painters or teachers either, so I'll stop here.
posted by etherist at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2011


a "living wage" for a family of two adults and a child in SF is $55,000

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You've never lived there, have you? Maybe never even been there? And according to your profile, you don't live there now, so what on earth should you care how the citizens of San Francisco choose to have their tax dollars spent?
posted by dersins at 7:54 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You've never lived there, have you? Maybe never even been there? And according to your profile, you don't live there now, so what on earth should you carehow the citizens of San Francisco choose to have their tax dollars spent?

I've been. It's very nice, if a little cold. Too expensive for me, and I wouldn't make any more than I do here, in spite of online "cost-of-living calculators" that suggest that I would be entitled to a >120% raise.

I very much doubt that most SF taxpayers have chosen to overpay some city employees. What do you reckon a living wage in SF is? I got my figure here: http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/places/0607567000
posted by etherist at 8:05 PM on February 18, 2011


Wisconsin school districts ranked 24th in teacher pay in 2009, dismissed a little over 2% of its teachers for poor performance, a touch over the national average, over 90% of which had tenure, much better than the national average.

Regardless of your opinions on unions in general, it is clear that the Wisconsin Education Association Council does not have any of these problems. If anything it is only ensuring that Wisconsin is paying a competitive salary for their teachers, which is a net boon to the state. A politician looking at short term reelection prospects isn't going to care whether their budget cuts screw the education system over 5 years down the road because they didn't pay enough to get competent new teachers.

Heck, teacher's unions are also unique in that they are often not advocating for themselves, but for schoolchildren. You don't become a school teacher because it's economically "rational" and it shows. Looking at the legislative agenda for WEAC, it appears the four big things they want are:

1)Funding for programs to help poor/needy kids
2)Healthcare assistance for families
3)License renewal requirements to ensure quality teaching
4)Work to reduce achievement gaps based on ethnicity, gender, or economic status

It's almost like those greedy bastards want to use taxpayer's money to help poor kids or something.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:09 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Teachers are not overpaid. But they do have job security. "Forbes estimates that no more than 50 nonprobationary teachers are dismissed in a typical year out of a statewide teaching force of 65,000" which would yield a rate of 0.08 percent per year.

The 2% figure probably refers to new hires. And was it just for performance, or for all causes, including misbehavior? Once a WI teacher has tenure (2- 3 years), it's well-nigh impossible to fire them.
posted by etherist at 8:44 PM on February 18, 2011


Please note that in teaching sacking is heavily, heavily career ending. 'Left by mutual agreement' is the phrase you won't be seeing in the stats there.
posted by jaduncan at 8:51 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also... "Teachers are not overpaid. But they do have job security."

Is the implication of this argument that the state gets a good deal because they have low wages but unfortunately they appear to have stable employment?
posted by jaduncan at 8:55 PM on February 18, 2011


WEAC, the Wisconsin State Teacher's Union, actually announced a proposal that would make it easier to dismiss bad teachers, but not many people (who aren't employed by/related to teachers) know about it.

Could I get a link on this, anyone? I'm apparently so awesome that I spend my Friday nights arguing with classmates on Facebook...
posted by naoko at 8:57 PM on February 18, 2011


Metafilter: a transparent evil coward of a plutocratic man-whore man
posted by symbioid at 8:58 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could I get a link on this, anyone?

I can get you one tomorrow. Otherwise try looking on weac.org for a press release from roughly two weeks ago.
posted by drezdn at 9:02 PM on February 18, 2011


I haven't had the time to read this thread (just got back from protesting/hockey game), but someone up thread mentioned that teacher's are really hard to fire. It's true and it isn't true.

See, if you're a teacher and you get fired once, it's almost impossible to get another teaching job. Districts know this, and showing a little bit of sympathy, many will offer teachers the opportunity to resign before they get fired.

As far as I know, this wouldn't show up in statistics, and isn't common knowledge among non-educators or their loving husbands.
posted by drezdn at 9:05 PM on February 18, 2011


and isn't common knowledge among non-educators or their loving husbands.

Should be "and isn't common knowledge except among some educators and their loving husbands."
posted by drezdn at 9:07 PM on February 18, 2011


Naoko, here you go.

The WEAC Bold Reforms plan (detailed plan here) (press release here)

Highlights: "The Bold Reforms plan, which you can read in depth here, include the creation of a statewide system to evaluate educators; instituting performance pay to recognize teaching excellence; and breaking up the Milwaukee Public School District into a series of manageable-sized districts within the city."

Since I am aware people may not read the links, some relevant paras from the details:

Teacher review:

"In WEAC’s proposed teacher evaluation system, new teachers would be reviewed annually for their first three years by a Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) panel made up of both teachers and administrators."

"Veteran teachers would be evaluated every three years, using a combination of video
and written analysis and administrator observation. Underperforming veteran teachers
would be required to go through this process a second year. If they were still deemed
unsatisfactory, they would be re-entered into the PAR program and could ultimately
face removal."

Performance related pay:

"The proposed performance pay system would replace the current
step-based salary schedule with career ladders which provide highly effective teachers
with opportunities to obtain additional compensation and be given additional
responsibilities. The new system would be broadly outlined by the state but
implemented locally through collective bargaining agreements.
The plan acknowledges three different levels of proficiency in the profession: initial
educator status, professional and master educator. It would include pay incentives for
hard-to-serve schools and hard-to-fill positions like bilingual teachers; for teachers
taking on leadership activities (like peer coaching, mentoring, curriculum development
and research coordination); and for teachers attaining National Board Certification
status."

Localisation:

"WEAC’S third proposed reform involves breaking up the Milwaukee Public Schools district into smaller, more manageable components. This bold action is designed to drive greater accountability within the system. It will also make the system easier to manage; give students more opportunities and choices; and help ensure students don’t "slip through the cracks." Additionally, the proposed MPS reconfiguration will deepen the engagement of parents and the community with their schools, since it will be easier for them to navigate
through a smaller district."
posted by jaduncan at 9:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


WEAC's proposal has its flaws (like the third one is horrible), but it's an honest attempt on their part to reform things.
posted by drezdn at 9:21 PM on February 18, 2011


Well, with this crazy 'performance review leading to increased wages or attempts at remedial training followed by dismissal' proposal we can all agree that the union should stripped of the rights of collective bargaining that all other workers in the state have. Hamburger.

I think there is a lot of pussyfooting around here by people arguing that the unions shouldn't be supported in this dispute in particular. If you think that WI state workers get such excessive support that they actually deserve to have their collective rights of bargaining stripped, feel free to say so. If not, you're going to have to make a case

a) why it should be done, and;
b) why it should be done to WI public service unions in particular (as they are the only ones having rights removed here)

rather than merely citing millionaire college professors or high wages from areas with huge living costs.
posted by jaduncan at 9:29 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think that WI state workers get such excessive support that they actually deserve to have their collective rights of bargaining stripped, feel free to say so.

Just to clarify, it's not only state workers, it's almost every public employee except for police and firefighters (both which had unions that supported Walker's election).
posted by drezdn at 9:37 PM on February 18, 2011


http://www.facebook.com/Nosair#!/album.php?id=700645620&aid=630980
posted by symbioid at 9:44 PM on February 18, 2011




The US labour movement being further inspired by people from the Middle East into demanding their rights and people inspiring each other across continents? Something very awesome is happening.
posted by jaduncan at 9:50 PM on February 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


You give a little love and it all comes back to you.
posted by dhartung at 10:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just to clarify, it's not only state workers, it's almost every public employee except for police and firefighters (both which had unions that supported Walker's election).

It's not just public employees, either. It's literally every employee. Capital and management collectively bargaining in the form of corporations and government is a good thing, the engine of America. Ordinary workers collectively bargaining is communism, exactly the same as if Stalin sent people to gulag.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:42 PM on February 18, 2011


The 2% figure probably refers to new hires. And was it just for performance, or for all causes, including misbehavior? Once a WI teacher has tenure (2- 3 years), it's well-nigh impossible to fire them.

What percentage is acceptable? Moreover, what working conditions, pay, etc is acceptable? Should teachers get any tax money at all? Should we eliminate the public education system altogether?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:45 PM on February 18, 2011


Yes, but this is a thread about unions, not about the fairness of the universe...

I counter that ultimately it is about fairness. That's the root of the debate. I concede your point that there are indeed cases where unions do cause workers to cost more than the market rate and the only reason this bothers anyone, perhaps yourself included, is that to certain people this situation seems unfair. The commonly trotted out jingoisms "handout" and "someone elses pocket" are testaments to this, as these phrases are used to highlight a perceived unfairness. Your comments suggest that you think an overpaid city worker is literally 'taking' money from 'someone elses pocket - thereby robbing them of the ability to put the money into the market as they see fit. Clearly an unfair situation, I might agree.

The issue is that 'the magic hand of the market' as it exists in the real world (not in David Mankiws textbook) is not itself some paragon of fairness and equity. The market has proven itself to be a wondeful tool for the allocation of resources...really perhaps the best humanity has come up with (open to debate)...but market forces are routinely manipulated to undermine their ability to properly allocate resources. There is almost always an asymmetry of information between consumers and producers, human beings are NOT rational actors (cite: see all of Dan Airely's work as well as most all Behavioral Economics), and further deregulation is not going to solve the problem (see: Financial Collapse of 2008)

...I would argue that $74,000 + city benefits for a trade nearly anyone could learn to do in under three months is more than they "should" be paid. I've done my share of painting. It's not rocket science.

Be careful here of your judgments, but I would say this too is about fairness. It seems unfair to you that people who did not need to study for years and years could make a wage that looks big to you. This happens all the time in the private sector...please spare some of your outrage for the Visual Effects industry that I am a part of! You can learn my trade in 6 months and easily command 6 figure incomes...and I can tell you this happens with regularity. Please dole some of your consternation on the private sphere equally :)

If you overpay a city employee, you are doing it with someone else's taxes, which they could have spent to stimulate the economy as they saw fit, except that you took it from them before they could spend it

This has been addressed several times in this thread already, but the logic behind it is eking towards trickle down nonsense that has been discredited over and over.

Either way I'm not going to change your mind, nor you mine...but I do appreciate your level debate as one of the few dissenting voices in the thread.
posted by jnnla at 10:47 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whether or not city painters are overpaid in San Francisco (I think they are, and the BLS agrees)

What is an acceptable rate of pay? How much tax money should the city of San Francisco spend on people to paint things? Moreover, why should your opinion count, since you don't live there?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:59 PM on February 18, 2011


Just saw this on a friend's facebook page, regarding the anticipated arrival tomorrow of Tea Partiers and ways to minimize the risk of violence breaking out:

"Keep your distance, be polite. (In fact, I suggest we form a ring of people around their demonstration, facing outward, isolating and ignoring them.)"

Makes sense to me. I'm sorry I can't be there with y'all.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:03 PM on February 18, 2011


From twitter: "@WiscPrincipal You can't throw tea in a frozen lake..."
posted by drezdn at 11:28 PM on February 18, 2011


cybercoitus interruptus: "Keep your distance, be polite. (In fact, I suggest we form a ring of people around their demonstration, facing outward, isolating and ignoring them.)"

Yes, that strategy needs to be worked out and stuck to meticuliously. In the words of Gene Sharp the man behind the techniques used in Cairo:

Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down.

And cracking down is what they do best and what they prepare for, it is much more effective to engage in protest in a peaceful way that has no correlative immediate reaction. Also violence is used to discredit a movement.

Here are his 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action from the Albert Einstein Institute.

I too, wish I could be there.
posted by Skygazer at 11:29 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


From my view, the tea partiers should actually be supporting the protesters, as the budget "repair" bill actually takes a significant chunk of power from responsive local governments and gives it to the state... Specifically the gov.

Additionally, the budget bill itself might keep state taxes, but will almost certainly require cities and counties to raise taxes.
posted by drezdn at 11:30 PM on February 18, 2011


Those greedy unions just won't quit!

Top leaders of two of Wisconsin's largest public employee unions announced they are willing to accept the financial concessions called for in Walker's plan, but will not accept the loss of collective bargaining rights.

Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, and Marty Beil, executive director of AFSCME Council 24, said in a conference call with reporters that workers will do their fair share to narrow Wisconsin's budget gap.

Walker's plan calls for nearly all state, local and school employees to pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums. That would save $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years, the governor has said.

posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:55 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not unexpected. The budgetary considerations are secondary for both sides. The workers aren't lining the streets to keep the state from taking a bigger chunk out of their paycheck (not that they love that) but to preserve their right to negotiate terms with their employers. Meanwhile, Gov. Walker isn't pushing this bill to help balance the state budget (not that he's against that) but to eliminate a source of political contributions to Democrats.

So the reaction to this compromise will be interesting. In some sense, it's the expected outcome -- it gives the workers what they want most, it gives Walker what he says he wants most, it has a superficial kind of fairness (teachers/nurses/guards will pay into their pension funds -- just like private employees -- and will have the right to bargain collectively -- just like private employers) and it frees up money in the state budget.

But the fact that this is coming from the unions, not from a GOP state senator, makes it seem less likely actually to happen.
posted by escabeche at 5:49 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walker already turned down the union offer.
posted by drezdn at 5:55 AM on February 19, 2011


It would be great if someone in Madison could make a sign like this Egyptian guy's and send a pic to him.
posted by desjardins at 5:59 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The weather is going to start getting nasty starting tonight and through next week. [National Weather Service warning] That will no doubt affect the protests.
posted by desjardins at 7:03 AM on February 19, 2011


Walker already turned down the union offer.

Well, at least we know it's 100% union breaking now.
posted by jaduncan at 8:23 AM on February 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Who is this "Facebook Login" guy, and where can I see his sign?
posted by perspicio at 8:29 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, I uploaded that image to imgur, so non-facebook users can look at it too.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 8:37 AM on February 19, 2011


Sorry, didn't realize you needed to log in first. I heard some speculation that that particular image was photoshopped (the guy looks too white or something) but he's got other pictures of him holding the sign in various locations, and there are plenty of everyday pictures of the same guy. His name is Muhammad Nusair.
posted by desjardins at 8:44 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Muhammad Saladin Nusair, sorry.
posted by desjardins at 8:45 AM on February 19, 2011


escabeche: "Walker isn't pushing this bill to help balance the state budget (not that he's against that)"

Actually he is. If he were for balancing it, he'd raise taxes in addition to cutting. His whole MO is to destroy the budget (Brad DeLong, an economist uses the term "Budget Arsonist") and then use the claims that "we're broke" to further cut. If we had a balanced budget we could keep spending on essential services. But that's "socialism". Make no mistake he does not, THEY (Republican politicians, at least, and a good chunk of Republicans in general) do not want a "balanced budget" they only want to "cut taxes". Balanced Budget is just rhetoric they use to get there.
posted by symbioid at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


escabeche: "Walker isn't pushing this bill to help balance the state budget (not that he's against that)"

Actually he is. If he were for balancing it, he'd raise taxes in addition to cutting. His whole MO is to destroy the budget (Brad DeLong, an economist uses the term "Budget Arsonist") and then use the claims that "we're broke" to further cut. If we had a balanced budget we could keep spending on essential services. But that's "socialism". Make no mistake he does not, THEY (Republican politicians, at least, and a good chunk of Republicans in general) do not want a "balanced budget" they only want to "cut taxes". Balanced Budget is just rhetoric they use to get there.


funny how the little thing of electing a black guy to the presidency just brings out the inner whacko in these folks.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 AM on February 19, 2011


Here is Muhammad Saladin Nusair's blog post on the pictures.

Dear activists, protesters & workers from Wisconsin, Ohio and other states,

I was truly touched by your hundreds of thoughts and comments on my photos from Tahrir holding that sign. I thank each and everyone of you, even those who thought the photos were shopped, but I have few things to say.

I’m an Egyptian ordinary young man, activist and Engineering student. I turned 21 years old last December, I love to read and write using both Arabic and English (although my English is kind of weak). and like other thousands, or even millions of Egyptians, I was very busy since Jan25 with our revolution in Tahrir square and all Egypt. we spent very hard days in that square waiting for death to come anytime from air or ground. anyway, what happened in Tahrir is not our subject now, everyone knows what happened there. the point is that I was too busy to know full details of what’s going on in other parts of the world. I knew that people protested in Wisconsin for their rights but didn’t know more details till Thursday, the 17th of February and it was by luck through a wall post of an American friend on Facebook, then I immediately began to search it and read more, then I decided to show support! decided to make the sign and take it with me to Tahrir next morning (Friday).....

posted by triggerfinger at 10:08 AM on February 19, 2011 [7 favorites]






Counter-demonstrator sign in Madison.
posted by found missing at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2011


I couldn't/can't make it to Madison today, but I'm glad the Tea Party stopped by. Maybe, just maybe they'll realize that the people they're so actively trying to hurt are their neighbors.
posted by drezdn at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2011


Violent protestors hand out cookies for everyone [more]
posted by dhartung at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Counter-demonstrator sign in Madison.

So...Obama, the Constitution, and a hammer and sickle. Somehow I doubt the guy holding the sign knows anything about any of those three.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh no...cookies!?

IS this the (dare I say it) the Baked Goods Revolution?

Wait..wait..I know..it's the Velvet Cupcake Revolution.
posted by Skygazer at 12:15 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Red Velvet Cupcake Revolution.
posted by Skygazer at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2011


The Kegger Party.
posted by Skygazer at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just came from the Capitol for a lunch break. We've changed our phrasing from "kill the bill" to "stop the bill." There are babies in strollers and marching alongside their mothers outside. They're handing out sandwiches, bagels, and orange slices inside the rotunda while anyone and everyone gets up and speaks their mind into the megaphone in an orderly fashion. Every third person has a sign taped to their back "Remember, this is a peaceful protest."

Sounds violent, doesn't it?

We heard a rumor that Fox News is claiming there are 1M Tea Partiers outside. Can anyone verify? There are MAYBE, just maybe, 1,000, cordoned off to one side of the square.

I've been sleeping in the Capitol (the next uprising should be about getting more outlets and softer floors into the building) and out there every day since this started. We're near breaking the record of the Viet Name protests.
It's a good week to be a Wisconsinite.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


According to there have been no arrests today. The tea party wanted a fight and they got cookie violence.
posted by drezdn at 12:40 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]




If you want to follow the other side of the argument, there's @WiGovPR.

Just got message from @SarahPalinUSA: "Don't listen to outsiders." The paradox created a black hole near Green Bay.

Asked Joe the Plumber for an autograph, but he forgot to wash his hands. They had a thick coating of lazy and irrelevant.
posted by dhartung at 12:53 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry if this was addressed upthread, but I just looked at the Americans for Prosperity petition and was struck by how it completely rewrites and obscures what is actually at stake here with language about secret ballots and whatnot that is not really relevant to the issue at hand, as far as I can tell. It just shows that they're not capable of getting support without being dishonest about it.
posted by naoko at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fox News is claiming there are 1M Tea Partiers outside

I gotta think that soon there'll have to to be some sort of agency set up to hold news organizations to account for broadcasting out and out bullshit. I mean, Beck et al are opinion types but for news?

A million?

Spin is one thing but fabrication should be punished. Three strikes no license or something.
posted by Trochanter at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2011


A moving video of the protests.
posted by drezdn at 1:58 PM on February 19, 2011


Wow, this is quite a video of the assembly yesterday where the repubs convene a few minutes early before dems arrive and try to push through the bill. Dem reps come running in and stop it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:07 PM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


crowd estimated from today 60K, 1K Tea baggers.
posted by edgeways at 2:07 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MPD now estimating crowd at 70K
posted by shesdeadimalive at 2:09 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dem reps come running in and stop it.

Rep. Peter Barca is my new hero. I've never seen a politician shame other politicians into complete silence.
posted by drezdn at 2:21 PM on February 19, 2011


The next time there is a major update, would it make sense for someone to start a new thread to get this back on the front page? Maybe a new thread on Monday? This seems too important to be buried back here.
posted by VTX at 2:54 PM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Be worth it to pre-clear it with the mods, but I'd hope it would pass.
posted by edgeways at 3:20 PM on February 19, 2011


@WiGovPR.....

8
Following
0
Followers
0
Listed

This is empirical evidence of the cricket response.
posted by clavdivs at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2011


I just emailed Rep. Barca to tell him he rocked the floor in the video posted by mandymanwasregistered. I don't know it will help any, but I thought he'd like to know he's a BAMF. Seriously, that was an incredible verbal laying-out.
posted by gc at 3:38 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


PS - If you'd like to do the same, here's where you can find his email address.
posted by gc at 3:38 PM on February 19, 2011


clavdivs, my screen shows 19 followers (more than double since I posted it here). The account has existed for about four hours. He (it) has been interacting with the more established GovWalkerWI account now.
posted by dhartung at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2011


If someone wants to do an FPP of the Barca link, I think it would be great. More people need to see it! I wish I could find it in a format that doesn't require silverlight.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:01 PM on February 19, 2011


Video from the ground around the state Capitol.

Crowd looks calm, happy and optimistic. Amazing contrast to the right-wing rallies we've been seeing the last couple years.
posted by auto-correct at 4:06 PM on February 19, 2011


Religious leaders offer churches, homes as sanctuary for Democratic senators

One of my favorite headlines so far.
posted by Weebot at 4:43 PM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]




If someone wants to do an FPP of the Barca link, I think it would be great. More people need to see it!

done.
posted by g.i.r. at 5:48 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to do an FPP of the Barca link, I think it would be great.

Incredible. What a childish, petulant bit of assholery.

I'm really glad Barca tears them a new one, the so deserve.

All this, must be rankling the right something fierce or at least making them act impetuous and passive aggressive, I don't know how else to explain it, but when your opponent resorts to childish half-assed tricks, I'd say it's a pretty good certainty that you're winning...

FWIW, I definitely think this extraordinary and unprecedented footage from a state legislature so clearly in disregard to it's own rules of order and procedure is FPP worthy.
posted by Skygazer at 5:56 PM on February 19, 2011


done.


Yes!
posted by Skygazer at 5:59 PM on February 19, 2011


As much as I hate Michelle Malkin, we really need to watch the content of our signage [warning: Michelle Malkin] so as not to give ammunition to the other side. If someone has a sign with Scott Walker in crosshairs, he/she needs to be told that is NOT COOL. The gangbang sign was extra not cool too. If it's not cool when the right does it, it's not cool when we do it either. We need to police ourselves.
posted by desjardins at 7:16 AM on February 20, 2011


If someone has a sign with Scott Walker in crosshairs, he/she needs to be told that is NOT COOL. The gangbang sign was extra not cool too. If it's not cool when the right does it, it's not cool when we do it either. We need to police ourselves.

Seconded.

Although, Michelle Malkin also had a problem with a sign that only said "tax the rich," and I have NO problem with that sentiment, quite frankly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


we really need to watch the content of our signage

Even policing signage gets us coverage as "embarrassed" for our own supporters.

Anyway, I would be suspect of any dodgy language or signage. Who knows the person and can vouch for their politics? They could easily be a mole.

This video purports to be a "union goon" calling for Castro and Che Guevara, but he's mere feet from an "I Support Governor Walker" sign, as well as a "Don't Tread on Me" flag, so must be within the Tea Partiers (as I understand it there was physical separation, and I see no conflicts between people standing side by side indicating they were of differing persuasions). Expect the underhanded.
posted by dhartung at 3:59 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Want to contribute but you're not in Wisconsin? Order a pizza for the protesters.
posted by scalefree at 4:07 PM on February 20, 2011






Now the Indiana Democratic reps are fleeing to Illinois.
posted by Iridic at 2:15 PM on February 22, 2011


I'll teach Scott's kids!!
posted by scalefree at 5:32 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've seen references to Star Wars, The Big Lebowski, LolCatz, Seinfeld and now Pedobear. If Ceiling Cat shows up I'm going to plotz.
posted by drezdn at 7:37 PM on February 23, 2011


A lot of the inside protestors are asking that if you donate food, please get something other than mac & cheese pizzas. (I don't blame them, while tasty, you can only eat so many before they get really tiring.)
posted by thebestsophist at 12:42 PM on March 1, 2011


mac & cheese pizzas

That's disgusting. Is this part of Walker's plan to drive people out of the capitol?
posted by found missing at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2011


Acquaintance of mine, who was inside the Capitol building, recently posted a thank-you to "whoever ordered the steak and fries pizza". Apparently, it was delicious.
posted by zennie at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2011


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