Tunisia. Egypt. Bahrain. Wisconsin …. Wisconsin?

It looks like the Middle East freedom contagion is flowing west to the Land of the Free. The state capitol of Wisconsin appears under siege by striking teachers. The teachers are upset with a bill that proposes that teachers contribute a greater amount of their pay to their pensions. The bill also proposes to strip the teachers’ union of their collective bargaining rights.

Collective bargaining rights is a method of negotiation where employees use authorized union representatives to assist them.

I can’t comment on the bill itself because I haven’t read it. Unions, overall, do more harm than good. The bottlenecks they create only drive up the costs of hiring and retaining employees.

The pension plans that these people are griping about are an example of onerous expenses that municipalities and states are being crushed by. Depending on the jurisdiction, some state constitution or state law may express that there is a contractual obligation to pay former employees for being nonproductive during the twenty or thirty years they live past their last day at work.

Personally, I‘d rather local and state governments stop offering the pensions and encourage future employees to save on their own while buying out the pensions of current recipients. It will be expensive on the front end, but at least future taxpayers will have the option of putting more tax revenues toward other purchases like infrastructure and public safety.

Unfortunately, given combined state budget deficits of some $80 billion, the contagion will continue to spread.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
This entry was posted in Economy, labor unions, Political Economy, state budget and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tunisia. Egypt. Bahrain. Wisconsin …. Wisconsin?

  1. Kenneth J. Ciszewski says:

    Teachers in Missouri already contribute a lot to their pensions, so I understand why contributing more might not be a pleasing thought.

    Your comment:

    “Unions, overall, do more harm than good. The bottlenecks they create only drive up the costs of hiring and retaining employees…”

    From what I know, the harm, or good, depends on where you stand. I have always believed that employers get the unions they deserve. Labor unions arose out of sweat shops and horribly exploitative working conditions when the industrial revolution came about, creating manufacturing jobs, 12-16 hour days for low pay, and child labor. Working men and women fought for more a more fair and reasonable distribution of wealth and better working conditions. If employers had simply been reasonably fair, and treated their employees better, labor unions would never have come about.

    It takes power to deal with power. Working people need power to deal with the power of employers. Unions sometimes help that. If you believe that business should be able to do whatever it pleases without restriction, then unions are an impediment to that. If you believe in reasonable fairness and decent treatment of workers, then workers need an advocate to help make that happen if business won’t do it on it’s own. Unions sometimes help that.

    In any case, teachers do very important work. That work is greatly undervalued in our society. Albert Pujols the baseball star supposedly wants $30 million for 10 years. Why is he so much more valuable than teachers–because he’s entertainment and they are not? This is really sad!!

    Further, it’s not the pensions in and of themselves that are the only problem. A big part of the problem is lower tax revenues due to the so called “Great Recession” caused by a bunch of Wall Street firms and mortgage lenders who gambled, lied, cheated, and stole and as a result nearly wrecked the world economy, throwing people out of work–the unemployed have no or very little income, so they don’t pay as much in taxes. We would not be having this conversation if that had not happened.

    It’s time for the government to stand up and tell business to knock it off. Otherwise, the teachers’ demonstration in Wisconsin will look like a church picnic compared to what will come later. Working people are fed up. Impoverish enough of them, and they will have little to lose–the unemployed have time to stage demonstrations. Working people generally go to work regardless.

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