Category Archives: Attacks on Unions Collective Bargaining

Is Governor Walker’s New Plan Fair for all residents of Wisconsin?

February 28, 2011

Governor Walker’s plans will only benefit  businesses and corporations and will take advantage of the real heroes in our country – teachers, firefighters and the police.  No matter how many times that he repeats himself, the Budget Repair Bill is about Union Busting and I have the proof to support this allegation and will document in today’s post.

Why has the media missed this point?  I have the research to prove my assertion, THAT THIS IS ABOUT BUSTING THE UNIONS!

Currently, once a union is certified, it remains in place until a required percentage of employees call for a new election.  The new requirement would be an annual vote to re-certify the union representation with a minimum required vote by 51% of the employees.  If less than 51% of union members vote, then the union is automatically de-certified and there is a wait of 1 year wait before a new election. Here is the language from Governor Walker’s bill requires the From Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11, top of page 2:

Under SELRA and MERA, a collective bargaining unit elects a labor organization as its representative once a majority of the employees in that collective bargaining unit who are actually voting votes for that labor organization; that labor organization remains the representative unless a percentage of members of the collective bargaining unit supports a petition for a new election and subsequently votes to de-certify the representative. This bill requires an annual certification election of the labor organization that represents each collective bargaining unit containing general employees. If, at the election, less than 51 percent of the actual employees in the collective bargaining unit vote for a representative, then, at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, the current representative is decertified and the members of the collective bargaining unit are nonrepresented and may not be represented for one year. This bill requires an initial certification election for all represented state and municipal general employees in April 2011.

Changing to annual certification means more administrative work, and probably more expense.  Also, the rules on the length of the collective bargaining agreements are being reduced from 2 years to 1 year and the ability to extend those agreements is being eliminated.  Again, more work and maybe more expense, here is the applicable paragraph.

Currently, except for an initial collective bargaining agreement, the terms of collective bargaining agreements are generally two years for state and municipal employees, and current law does not prohibit collective bargaining agreements from being extended. This bill limits the term for general employees to one year and prohibits the extension of collective bargaining agreements.

Finally, the following provision is designed to strike at the balance sheet of every union, and is meant to decrease the funds they have available to lobby on behalf of their members.  Currently, union dues are collected by payroll withholding.  The following provision would outlaw that, and require that unions bill their members.  And they could not enforce the payment of dues.  Do you think this is fair?

Current law provides that state and municipal employees who are represented by a labor organization have the organization dues deducted from their salaries.  Except for salary deductions for public safety employees, this bill prohibits the salary  deductions for labor organization dues. This bill also allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit.

Bob Shipman, posting on the blog, Look True North, confirms that the bill is intended to bust the unions.  The applicable paragraphs from his post of February 18, 2011 “What’s not to like” Details of Wisconsin AB11” are as follows:

Taxpayer-Friendly Overhaul of Government Union Structure
The meat of the Wisconsin bill is its bold attempt to bust the government worker unions.  Regardless of what you think of private sector unions, our unionized government workers are without question the most powerful political force in history – and they are ruining our economy state by state.  The Wisconsin bill overhauls the way government worker unions are certified in Wisconsin.  Instead of a one-time vote with only a majority of those voting needed to certify a labor organization, SS AB 11 requires annual union certification and requires a majority vote of all members of the union, not just those who show up to vote.  Contract periods are reduced from two years to one and contract extensions are prohibited.  Union dues can no longer be automatically deducted from paychecks and members who opt out of paying their dues to can stay a member of the collective bargaining unit.

Pay and benefit provisions that can be collectively bargained are limited in the bill:  “This bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages. In addition, unless a referendum authorizes a greater increase, any general employee who is part of a collective bargaining unit is limited to bargaining over a percentage of total base wages increase that is no greater than the percentage change in the consumer price index.”

Bob Shipman is a Fellow with the Minnesota Free Market Institute.

Then, my last piece of proof that Governor Scott Walker want to BUST THE UNIONS, is the something that Governor Walker said during the prank call with the fake David Koch.  At 8 minutes and 25 seconds into the taped call, Governor Walker said:

“But in the end, this is about public sector unions…Hell, even FDR got it, …there’s no place….essentially you are having taxpayer’s money be used to pay to lobby for spending more of taxpayer’s money. Absolutely ridiculous.”

So the wages that are paid to public sector union employees, are still taxpayer’s money and he thinks it is ridiculous that the union dues are used to lobby against the GOP.  Need I say more?

Are these American Values?  Is this taking care of American workers and their families?  Shouldn’t radical changes like this be discussed by all parties?  Do you agree with the radical changes being implemented by the conservative right-wing segment of the Republican Party?

My answer to these questions?  NO!

What do you think?  Please vote on today’s poll.

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Filed under Attacks on Unions Collective Bargaining, Collective Bargaining, Democrats, GOP, Politics, Unions

Does Governor Scott Walker have a Smoking Gun buried in the Budget Bill?

Yesterday was an incredible day for news, and my head is still spinning. And some of the news content has given me a theory, which might explain Governor Scott Walker‘s stubbornness about refusing to  yield on the collective bargaining issue.  It is only a theory now, but if I am right – then Walker may have stepped on the proverbial bee hive.  The nuggets of information in the news content:

1. Huffington Post blogger – Zach Carter posted something interesting about the financial health of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)  and its ability to pay current and future retirement benefits.

2. Zach also referenced a report prepared by the The Pew Center on the States.

3.  The main point of the two articles, was that the Wisconsin Retirement System is very close to being 100% funded for current and future retirement benefits.

These  facts, caused me to ask “Does the Wisconsin retirement plan have excess assets that could be re-captured by the state government if they terminate the plan and replace it with a different type of retirement plan?

Time for a little history lesson. Back in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, a lot of American companies were still providing retirement benefits for their employees with plans that provided annuity income when the employee retired. The IRS and Dept. of Labor considered this type of plan to be a safer and more valuable benefit than account balance plans. It reduced the risk to employees of fluctuations in the stock market, because retirees are guaranteed a monthly or annual income, and the retirement benefits are not affected by market losses or gains.

But, a  significant percentage of these plans were over funded back then, which made these plans targets for employers wanting to recoup the excess assets. And the recovered excess assets were significant – many times it was in the millions of dollars. The only way an employer could recover these assets was through terminating the plan, paying out the accrued benefits to the employers through lump sums distributions or purchasing deferred annuities. Once the plan had paid out the benefits accrued by employees – the remaining assets would revert to the employer (i.e. the plan sponsor) and would flow back to the corporate balance sheet. The excess assets could not go to the employees, it was prohibited because of the way these plans are legally structured.

Think Gordon Gekko and the first Wall Street movie. Most of the terminated plans were replaced with less expensive 401k plans, mostly funded through employee contributions. And the responsibility for managing the growth of the these funds were left to the employee.

I think we all know how that worked out, through the dot com bubble, 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis.

On to Page Three of Governor Walker’s Budget Bill, third paragraph from the top, there is very interesting language that leads to the very important question for Governor Walker. The paragraph mandates that a study of the existing Wisconsin Retirement System be performed and it must “specifically address establishing a defined contribution plan as an option for WRS participating employees” and the deadline for completing this study is June 30, 2012. I don’t think that Walker would be adding  retirement benefits for workers  – so I am wondering if the Republican Governors that are trying to get rid of collective bargaining of retirement benefits, so that they can terminate the existing plans and recover excess assets for their state balance sheets.

If Governor Walker’s bill passes, and collective bargaining of retirement benefits is eliminated, then next year Governor Walker can decide it is in Wisconsin’s best interests to get rid of the existing plan and replace it with something less valuable for the employees. And the employees would have no say and no one can keep Walker from raiding your  retirement savings.

Again, hard-working Americans are getting the short end of the stick. Do you think this is the American Way? We need to ask Governor Walker if he is planning to get rid of the existing Wisconsin Retirement  System and raid your retirement plan!

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Filed under Attacks on Unions Collective Bargaining, Collective Bargaining, Politics, Republicans, Unions