I watched a live Scott Walker press conference for the first time Friday evening and I was amazed by the utter message discipline of the Boy Governor as he used his office to forward the Koch Brothers campaign to destroy public-sector unions.
He’s been saying the same thing in the same way for a week. I heard Ohio’s freshly-minted Koch puppet-governor John Kasich spout the same talking-points on the radio the same night. “We want to give municipalities and school boards the same flexibility…” Same crap. Same script. The only difference is that Kasich has a discernable personality, honed during his part-time gig as a Fox News stooge a few years back. On the other hand, Walker behind a podium looks like a high school forensics contestant doomed to a B.
Since his self-inflicted Wisconsin Crisis has gone national and viral, Walker has shrunken into a defensive crouch. The press, especially the Journal Sentinel, has rolled over, challenging none of his utter bullshit, to his face or anywhere else. I’m sure he’ll do fine on Fox News Sunday, trading knowing smirks with former journalist ands fellow right-wing traveller Chris Wallace.
Ever since Marty Beil and the other union leaders confirmed and the brave exiled Democratic senators of the WI 14 agreed that the increase in pension and health insurance contributions was a dead issue and all the governor had to do was agree to drop his non-economic union-busting provisions to end the stand-off, Walker and the other lackeys of the Koch agenda have refused to directly address the core issue. It really is all about not just limiting bargaining to just a small sliver of wages – it is solely about killing off the unions themselves.
A few provisions of the bill that haven’t gotten enough attention make that intent perfectly clear.
- A prohibition against paycheck deductions for union dues. Forget (for a moment – then remember again) the elimination of fair-share, whereby those who reap the benefits of the union’s bargaining but choose not to be a member of the union itself have to pay a high percentage of the regular union dues to support the union’s activities on their behalf. The biggest financial impact on unions (as long as they exist) in the bill is the fact that, for the first time – ever, anywhere – union members would have to send monthly checks to the union rather than have the employer take it out of their checks, at their request. Walker and his handlers at Koch Industries know that this creates an impossible and expensive bookkeeping and collection nightmare for the union. It is by far the biggest, most obvious union-busting f*ck-you in the bill, and the Republicans know it.
- A requirement that each union conduct a recertification election every year. The union, each year, would have to win 51 percent (not 50-plus-1) of all those employed in the unit – not just those voting. After the union loses all rights to bargain anything but a cost-of-living wage increase, who in their right mind would vote to continue with this charade year-after-year? Most unions are not enough of a social club to maintain that kind of solidarity for solidarity’s sake. The Koch Republicans know that any union that somehow manages to survive the first such annual election will never survive the second.
These two stick-it-to-em provisions have nothing to do with the budget, certainly, and even less to do with the other severe restrictions on bargaining in the bill. And the miserable thing is that no one can get any Republican in the Assembly, the Senate or the governor himself backed up against a wall so they have to answer the question: Why is that there?
It certainly won’t be the Journal Sentinel, even on its editorial page. In Sunday’s paper, there is not an editorial urging Walker and the Republicans to take YES for an answer on the financials and take out the union-busting provisions of the bill. Instead, they are moving on the larger budget, laughably encouraging Walker to exercise “ideological restraint” with “fairness and compassion” in the proposal he is not delivering on Tuesday. Are they kidding? If there is anything they should have learned this week, it is that such restraint and fairness cannot be expected from the white-hot radical Republicans in the Capitol.