Former SEIU Head Andy Stern Explains What’s At Stake In Wisconsin
Former Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern knows it’s not just about Wisconsin and it’s not about budgets. It’s a 15-state Republican effort to take away workers’ rights.
1. Wisconsin’s Budget Deficit Is Far from the Nation’s Largest
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and most fair observers, Wisconsin, like 44 other states, has a budget problem. Wisconsin’s projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2012 is $1.8 billion, or 12.8 percent of the state’s total budget. A problem, absolutely, but a small one compared to the leading deficit distressed states: Nevada at 45.2 percent ( $1.5 billion); Illinois at 44.9 percent ($15.0 billion); New Jersey at 37.4 percent ($10.5 billion), and Texas at 31.5 percent ($13.4 billion).
2. Wall Street Created the Fiscal Crisis, Not Unions
Public workers, elected officials, unions, or others whom one might want to blame did not create today’s fiscal crisis. An already weak and increasingly two-tier economy, dragged down by a 2000-10 jobless decade, globalization, and a lack of real wage growth for a generation, was sunk by greedy big banks and Wall Street. They, abetted by blind regulatory oversight, created irresponsible investment schemes.
3. Public-Sector Pension Plans Are Not the Problem
Public sector defined benefit pension plans, a recent high-profile target for many critics, are not inherently—or specifically, in the case of Wisconsin—”the” problem. Such pension plans, both public and private, work just fine when governed by math and not wishful thinking.
4. The Exemption of Police, Fire Unions Undermines Walker’s Claims
Although Gov. Walker casts the changes in collective bargaining in terms of fiscal responsibility, the exemption of police, firefighters, and other public-safety workers from these changes—and the demand that unions be re-certified every year or lose their legal standing—undermines his claims.
5. The Assault on Workers’ Rights Is a Republican Choice
More than 15 other states are facing Republican initiatives to change their teacher, state employee, and local government bargaining laws, or private sector right-to-work laws.Click here for reuse options!
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