Schweitzer Has Tips for Wisconsin

Aaron Flint posted on February 21, 2011 09:21 :: 1592 Views

Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) had some advice for the state of Wisconsin on the Fox Business Network Friday, telling Fox, “I cut my own salary by $11,500 before I sat down and negotiated with them (labor unions).”  

Click below to watch video of the interview:

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Eric Feaver, President of MEA-MFT, which represents teachers in Montana had this to say in an email conversation this morning:

I agree with the governor.  Killing collective bargaining and public sector unions is NOT the answer to Wisconsin’s fiscal difficulties.  Good faith collective bargaining where the facts are laid openly on the table as occurred here in Montana in the fall of 2008 will in fact lead to good conclusions in the short and long term.  As you know, the governor and state employee unions bargained a two-year pay freeze.  That deal helped Montana state government work its way through and out of the GREAT RECESSION.  Everyone should be grateful.  And now that the state has recovered necessary fiscal capacity there is NO reason whatsoever that the 2011 legislature should unravel the latest collectively bargained deal the governor and state employee unions made in the fall of 2010 to modestly increase state employee pay 1% and 3% respectively over the next two years.  This deal is made even more modest by our agreement – also collectively bargained – that there will be no increase in state funding of state employee health insurance over the biennium. 

The rest of the nation should go the way of Montana . . . not Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Politico notes that the labor unions are losing the PR fight in Wisconsin.

As organized labor hails an unprecedented moment of unity playing out amid a sea of supporters marching in Madison, Wis., other union officials elsewhere are quietly wringing their hands about the risks of a high-stakes and historic loss in against Gov. Scott Walker.

The six days of protests against Walker’s bill to curb collective-bargaining rights have mesmerized cable news viewers and shown a fighting spirit and cohesion that labor groups have rarely displayed during 12 months of serving as public enemy number one in the eyes of tea party insurgents and newly empowered budget cutters.

Yet that sense of determined harmony comes at a potentially steep cost, and with no clear end-game. Some strategists and labor officials watching the protest conflagration from the outside are beginning to fret that a large-scale defeat in Wisconsin will have a devastating ripple effect, weakening labor state by state throughout the rest of the country.

Dave Budge adds this at The Electric City Weblog, a conservative blog based out of Great Falls.

It’s curious to me that unionists think about “rights” while ignoring them. I suppose it’s simply political posturing and phony rhetoric. If they were indeed interested in “rights” they would work to protect the right not to join an enterprise of which some find either lacking value or even contrary to their rational self-interest.

The Heritage Foundation on Walker:

If government employees want to voluntarily form associations and lobby the government for higher pay, better benefits, and working conditions, that is there constitutional right. But they have no right to force all employees to join their organization and take money from their paychecks every week. Governor Walker’s bill fixes these problems: It affords government workers the right to quit their union and keep their jobs; it requires unions to demonstrate their support through annual secret-ballot votes; and it stops state and local governments from collecting union dues through their payroll systems. These are common-sense measures that would increase worker freedom, restore power to taxpayers, and make America more competitive internationally.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Fox and Friends last week:

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