The Oath of Office had scarcely stopped echoing through the Capitol rotunda when Governor Walker declared open season on workers, unions and fair play. Continuing to play by his own 'rules' Governor Walker announced that he would not bargain with the states workers and instead told the legislature to draft legislation to cancel any and all contract negotiations. This dispite the fact that many State workers had been working under contracts that had expired more than a year ago. Some much more than that.
Governor Walker then submitted a 'Budget Repair Bill' to eliminate the $137,000,000.00 budgetary shortfall in this years State Budget. Rather than ask lawmakers to recind the huge tax breaks given to businesses and organizations that supported him in his election campaign. Governor Walker chose to extract the money from those who did not and those least able to pay. Among the many really bad ideas contained within the bill were:
Pension Contributions Increase
Requires workers to pay 50% of their annual pension payment. This is estimated to be 5 to 6 % of their 2011 salary.
Health Insurance Increase
Public employees would be required to pay at least 12.6% of the average cost of annual premiums. It would also require plans to be changed to reduce current premiums by 5%.
Collective Bargaining Rights Eliminated
Would eliminate all subjects for negotiation except for basic wages, which would be restricted to an increase capped at a rate based on inflation. Unless approved by a referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year in length and wages would be frozen until a new contract is settled. "Collective Bargaining Units" would be required to hold annual 'recertification' votes. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and "memebers" of "collective bargaining units" could not be required to pay dues.
These changes would take effect when current contracts expired. Many of which already had, along with all negotiations since Governor Waker declared an end to them weeks earlier. Law enforcement, fire fighting workers and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes in law. These same public sector worker's unions had endorsed Scott Walker for Governor during the campaign.
LTE Benefits Eliminated
Limited Term Employees would be prohibited from being eligable for health insurance or participation in the Wisconsin Retirement System.
Absences from work cause for termination
These portions of the legislation would allow appointment of agencies to terminate any employee absent for three days without approval or any employee participating in an organized action to stop, or slow down, work if the Governor has declared a State of Emergency. Which was the first thing Gov. Walker did upon taking office.
Repeal Healthcare and Academic Workers Right To Collectively Bargain
This would repeal the authority of home healthcare workers, family childcare workers, UW Hospital and Clinic employee and UW faculty and academic staff to collectively bargain. At all.
and much, much more.
There's a lot to hate in this legislation proposed by the Governor and rabidly backed by the Teabagger Party and most republicans. This thinly veiled swipe at worker's rights is bought and paid for by the Corporate Capitalists and comes as no real surprise to anyone following Scott Walkers terms as County Executive in Milwaukee or in the state legislature. More of the same. This human rights outrage will be the hallmark of Gov. Walker's entire reign.
Workers in Wisconsin, across the county and around the world have taken notice of this war on the worker pitched battle. Events unseen since the 1880s and early 1900s have spontaniously erupted around the state to show support for workers rights. Even many who would place themselves in Gov. Walker's camp are unhappy with the means and manner in which this was done.
Through it all the IWW has been there. Members of the Madison GMB and the Milwaukee GMB have been protesting, picketing and staging direct action events. Funds have been raised and food, water and shelter made available to those in need. Regardless of union affiliation. And unlike the trade unions the IWW maintains that the workers have given enough over recent years and need neither offer nor give any more. The IWW has forged and called for a General Strike of all workers in solidarity with those now under attack.