Showing posts with label Unions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unions. Show all posts

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Battle of Wisconsin

Three years ago, Wisconsin become Ground Zero for the battle over public sector unions. There were two sides drawn with Scott Walker and austerity supporters on one and the unions on the other. The former prevailed and the public sector unions were not allowed, by law, to bargain collectively (except for the police and fire department).

The results from this change in policy are muddy at best. Scott Walker promised 250,000 jobs as a result. The state has only netted just over 50,000. Of course, that's a politician's promise so a boulder of salt should taken with it. Wisconsin's unemployment rate sits at 6.5 percent which is about the national average. The state government has a surplus (yippee!) but that's not really saying much. As I have mentioned previously, Wisconsin illustrates how austerity policies do not work.

That being said, this recent article in the Times shows how there are many sides to this story. For instance,

Ted Neitzke, school superintendent in West Bend, a city of 31,000 people north of Milwaukee, said that before Act 10 his budget-squeezed district had to cut course offerings and increase class sizes. Now, the district has raised the retirement age for teachers and revamped its health plan, saving $250,000 a year. “We couldn’t negotiate or maneuver around that when there was bargaining,” Mr. Neitzke said. “We’ve been able to shift money out of the health plan back into the classroom. We’ve increased programming.” 

A good thing for students but not so great for the teachers. Now, they have to contribute more out of pocket and, as a result, they don't have as much money to spend in the economy. The rest of the piece looks at examples of all the different angles and fallout from Act 10. It's very much worth a slow read because what is seen on Fox or MSNBC is very simplistic.

Here's something else from the article I found interesting.

James R. Scott, a Walker appointee who is chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which administers the law regarding public-employee unions, said that “as a result of Act 10, the advantages that labor held have been diminished.” He added: “It’s fair to say that employers have the upper hand now.” 

But the employers are the government. Doesn't that add power to "Big" Government? What power does the individual now have if they are a public employee?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

What Do They Do?

Someone asked me in comments a while back just what exactly right to work laws do to a state's economy? Well, here's a pretty good summation. Here's the one that jumped out at me.

2) Under right-to-work laws, workers reap fewer gains from economic growth. Supporters of right-to-work laws often argue that they’ll help attract more businesses to a state. Opponents retort that weakening unions will lead to an erosion of wages. (A large Economic Policy Institute study from 2011 found that, after controlling for a host of factors, right-to-work states have lower wages on average than pro-union states.) 

Both arguments might be correct. One careful study conducted by Hofstra’s Lonnie Stevans in 2007 found that right-to-work laws do help boost the number of businesses in a state — but the gains mostly went to owners, while average wages went down. ”Although right-to-work states may be more attractive to business,” Stevans concludes, “this does not necessarily translate into enhanced economic verve in the right-to-work state if there is little ‘trickle-down’ from business owners to the non-unionized workers.” 

So business owners gain, and workers lose. One possible retort is that these states could simply set up new safety-net programs to compensate workers who are hurt. But that leads to another question: Without strong unions in place, who will push for these policies?

So, more business comes to the state but the gains go right to the owners. Paging Joseph Stiglitz!

What continues to amaze me is how the Right, supposedly "classic liberals" influenced by Adam Smith, vociferously fight for more wealthy for the modern day version of the aristocracy. Somewhere Klemens von Metternich is applauding....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Look Out!

Just re-discovered this chestnut from last year that I lost in my "Ideas" file.

You bought into the myth that unions are the cause of America’s demise. You didn’t bother to learn America became a world power when union membership was at its peak. You didn’t bother to learn America became the envy of the world while 1 of every 3 Americans was a union member.

Right. But remember, unions are the biggest threat to our country what with all those teachers, police officers, firefighters and city clerks that make millions a year. Look out!

To make matters worse, you’re again being played for a chump. The same puppets who did nothing while your standard of living decreased are now using the oldest gimmick in the book — jealousy — to continue their assault on American workers. Rather than protect Americans’ jobs, they deflect your attention through jealousy.

“Cut the pay of government workers,” they cry. “Increase their health premiums. Decrease their pensions. Break their unions. After all, you’ve suffered so they should suffer too.” And in your misery, you buy their argument while more jobs head oversees. Pretty stupid, eh?

That's why it cracks me up when I hear all this talk about envy. As usual, it's accurate but it's more of a self description.

Misery does indeed love company.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When The Tide Goes Out, I Want To Make Sure That I Drag You Down With Me

Whether he knew it or not, Stephen Colbert (in the video I posted yesterday) summed up exactly how the conservative movement of this country has as many followers as it does. I also now understand the motivations of some of my posters.

If you take a look at most conservatives these days, they are pissed off about something. Abortion, gay marriage, the debt, unions...whatever...and each of these things are demonized to such a point of irrationality that it's quite befuddling. For years, I thought they were just dicks. Recently, I have to come think that they are mostly just bullies and adolescents but I didn't take that extra step until reading this article in the Times and hearing Colbert two days ago.

I was so blind.

What do most bullies have in common? They all have a bunch of crappy things going on in their personal lives so they act out when they are at school. Or, in this case since they are "adults," the act like creeps when they are out with people and/or posting on blogs. Take the example of Rick Hahan from the Times article.

“Something needs to be done,” he said, “and quickly.”

Across Wisconsin, residents like Mr. Hahan have fumed in recent years as tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished, and as some of the state’s best-known corporations have pressured workers to accept benefit cuts.

Fumed...there's the anger that they tap into as easy as pie which is why something needs to be done "quickly," I wonder if Mr. Hahan understands that this problem could have been easily remedied by not cutting taxes as the Governor did upon taking office. Taxes that were cut,  I might add, to favor the people that are (in reality) the reason why Mr. Hahan is out of a job.

And see how easily anger becomes resentment in the case of Mary Kay Horter.

Ms. Horter said she was forced to work more hours as an occupational therapist, but had not seen a raise or any retirement contributions from her employer for the last two years. All told, her family’s income has dropped by about a third.

“I don’t get to bargain in my job, either,” she said.

Ah, I see. Since Ms. Horter and Mr. Hahan don't have the same benefits, why should anyone else? Everyone, I guess, should be as miserable as them regardless of how hard they have worked to get to where they are today.

Misery does indeed love company. In American today there a fuck load of people, like Ms. Horter and Mr. Hahan, who are miserable and don't really like themselves very much. It's become increasingly obvious that these folks are ripe fruit for the pickins.

Guess who are the produce collectors?