The Wisconsin Fleebaggers keep saying that all they want is for Governor Scott Walker to come to the table and negotiate on his budget-repair bill, and they’ll end their hostaging of Wisconsin government. However, new e-mails released by Walker’s office show that the governor has negotiated on key aspects of his union reforms, perhaps to an extent that might make his supporter nervous:
Gov. Scott Walker’s office released documents Tuesday showing he’s willing to give on some points of his union bargaining bill to break the Capitol standoff and bring Senate Democrats back from Illinois.
The e-mails showed ideas and counteroffers – panned Tuesday by state labor leaders and some Democrats – that were made by the Republican governor’s aides and two Democrats as they sought some resolution that would allow Democrats to come back to Wisconsin. Senate Democrats have been holed up in Illinois since Feb. 17, when they left the state to block a vote on Walker’s budget-repair bill.
This directly refutes the notion pushed by the state Senators who fled the state that Walker has unilaterally refused to bargain with them. In fact, here are the specific proposals offered by Walker as a compromise:
• Public employee union bargaining over wages would no longer be limited to the rate of inflation.
• Unions would be allowed to bargain over certain economic issues, including mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size. On this set of issues, both labor and management would have to agree to discuss them for bargaining to happen.
• Unions could bargain over workplace safety, but that would be limited to workers’ physical health and safety. It would not allow bargaining over hours, overtime, sick leave or family leave, work schedules or vacation.
• Unions would have to vote every three years to remain active, with the first of those votes coming within one year of the bill becoming law. The current version of the bill would require unions to vote to recertify every year – starting this April – and require them to get at least 51% of workers’ votes.
• Employees of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority would not lose all union bargaining rights.
• The Legislature’s budget committee would have to approve changes to state health programs for the poor sought by the Walker administration. The budget-repair bill gives Walker broad powers to reshape those Medicaid health programs, which cover more than 1 million state residents.
So what’s left? The open-shop rules that make dues payments voluntary, and the end of collective bargaining over pension and benefits. The former would have the effect of cutting off much of the union revenue that gets redirected into political donations to Democrats, and the latter would put an end to the WEA Trust near-monopoly that strangles state and local budgets. The Fleebaggers apparently value those more than representative democracy.
After the release of the e-mails, which came after the Journal-Sentinel filed an open-records request, one Fleebagger expressed disappointment:
[Tim] Cullen characterized the talks as “discussions” rather than negotiations, because he and Jauch weren’t speaking on behalf of other Democrats, and said he was disappointed the details on them were sent out in a news release.
“I’ve never seen negotiations be done successfully in public,” he said. “I thought they were bargaining in good faith.”
Apparently Walker and Republicans were bargaining in good faith, while the Fleebaggers demanded total victory or nothing at all despite being in the minority. I’ll bet they’re disappointed with the release, because it exposes their absolutism and their refusal to abide by the results of an election.