Tag Archives: Jon Erpenbach

Madison Protests Continue, But Governor Scott Walker Is Unmoved

It appears that Gov. Scott Walker’s orders from his bosses, the Koch Brothers, is to stand firm and stonewall the tens of thousands of workers protesting Walker’s attempt to dismantle most public service unions’ collective bargaining rights…

Huffington Post

As union supporters moved inside for a sixth straight day of protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, Gov. Scott Walker reiterated Sunday that he wouldn’t compromise on the issue that had mobilized them, a bill that would eliminate most of public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

Democratic lawmakers have said they and union members would agree to financial concessions that the Republican governor wants in exchange for workers keeping their collective bargaining rights. But Walker said he wasn’t willing to budge, and he expected the bill to pass as is.

“We’re willing to take this as long as it takes because in the end we’re doing the right thing,” he told Fox News from Madison.

The controversial measure led to massive protests that started Tuesday and have gained steam each day. An estimated 68,000 people turned out Saturday. Most opposed the bill, but the day marked the first time that a significant contingent of Walker supporters showed up to counter-protest.

Hundreds of protesters gathered inside the Capitol on Sunday, as snow turned into freezing rain that made walking outside the building a challenge. The demonstrators banged on drums and danced in the Capitol Rotunda while they chanted, “This is what Democracy looks like” and “union busting!”

Jacob Cedillotootalian, a 27-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student and teaching assistant, said Sunday was the third night that he slept in the Capitol as part of a union representing teaching assistants and he didn’t see an end coming anytime soon. He said he was worried about paying more for his health insurance and tuition, but what kept him protesting was the possibility of losing the union.  More…

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Filed under Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Public Service Employees' Protests, Wisconsin Unions, Wisconson Fiscal Crisis, Wisconson GOP

12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin

AlterNet

What’s happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then ” signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit.”

Walker then used the deficit he’d created as the justification for assaulting his state’s public employees. He used a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but I described the organization in a 2005 article as “the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money.” Similar laws are on the table in Ohio and Indiana.

Walker’s bill would strip public employees of the right to bargain collectively for anything but higher pay (and would cap the amount of wage hikes they might end up gaining in negotiations). His intentions are clear — before assuming office, Walker threatened to decertify the state’s employees’ unions (until he discovered that the governor doesn’t have that power).

But he’s spinning the measure as something else — a bitter pill state workers must swallow in order to save Wisconsin’s government. So the first things you need to know are:

1. Wisconsin’s public workers  have already “made sacrifices to help balance the budget, through 16 unpaid furlough days and no pay increases the past two years,” according to the Associated Press. The unions know their members are going to have to make concessions on benefits, but they rightly see the assault on their fundamental right to negotiate as an act of war. 

2. There are already 13 states that restrict public workers’ bargaining rights and it hasn’t helped their bottom lines. As Ed Kilgore notes,  “eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than either Wisconsin or Ohio,” and ” three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the eleven states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20%.” 

3. This isn’t just about public employees. What even a majority of the protesters don’t know is that Walker’s law would also place all of the state’s Medicaid funding in the hands of the governor.  State senator Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton — one of the Dem law-makers who fled the state to block a vote on the bill – told local media that this amounted to “substantial Medicaid changes” that put “the governor, all of a sudden… in charge of Medicaid, which is SeniorCare, which is BadgerCare …and he has never once said what he intends to do” with those programs. But the provision led journalist Suzie Madrak to conclude that “the end game for all this is to defund state Medicaid programs and make it impossible to serve as part of the new health care safety net.”

4. Health-care costs, rather than workers’ greed, are what has driven up the price of employees’ benefits. But generally speaking, those public sector health-care costs have grown at a slower clip than in the private sector.

5. Public employees’ pensions account for just 6 percent of state budgets. 

This has nothing to do with the state’s fiscal picture. Aside from potentially undermining Wisconsin’s public health-care system, it’s really about destroying the last bastion of unionism in the American economy: public employees. As Addie Stan wrote on AlterNet’s front page: 

Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries — run by David Koch and his brother, Charles — and Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all. 

There’s more…

 

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Filed under Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Unions, Wisconson Fiscal Crisis, Wisconson GOP