Today In Wisconsin

Today is the day that Wisconsin voters finally get to go to the polls and put an end to the seemingly endless debate about whether Scott Walker is an angel or a devil. Today’s Chicago Sun Times posted a story about today’s election. The story reminds us that the original issue that caused the recall of Governor Walker— reform of public employee unions–hasn’t been talked about much during the campaign. There is a reason for that–the reforms have been highly successful. One of the things that Governor Walker changed was the health insurance for teachers in the state. Previously teachers’ health insurance and retirement were handled exclusively by the the WEA Trust, a creation of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), As reported in rightwinggranny.com in February 2011, the WEA Trust has come under investigation for tax violations and unreported political donations. Governor Walker moved the teachers to the same health insurance program that covers other state employees.

The article at the Sun Times reports:

Public service employees are finally making reasonable contributions to their pension and health benefits. Government employee unions no longer dictate work rules. Local school districts and governments with new latitude to renegotiate contracts have saved Wisconsin taxpayers $1 billion, according to the governor’s office.

The article concludes:

Walker never trailed in the polls but some surveys showed a tightening of the race in the final days. The voters have the final say Tuesday. They will decide whether Wisconsin will lead the nation in rescuing taxpayers from grasping government employee unions and the self-serving politicians who have appeased them by caving to their demands or return to policies that risk bankruptcy for government budgets, endangering vital government services and leaving taxpayers with the staggering bill.

What Governor Walker has done in Wisconsin is needed in almost all states. Unfunded liabilities in state budgets caused by unfunded public pensions are bankrupting the states. In some cases, towns and cities are spending more money on pensions for police and firefighters than they are for active police and firefighters. I don’t have a problem with pensions for police and firefighters, but money for those pensions needs to be set aside during the time those people are working–it should not be an unfunded liability.

Wisconsin will be an interesting bellwether.

 

 

 

 

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The End Of Free Enterprise In The American Automobile Industry

2010 Ford Mustang photographed in Fort Washing...

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the union workers at Ford Motor Company’s Chicago assembly plan have voted to reject a new four-year contract proposed by Ford Motor Company.

I would like to repost a quote from an article posted at rightwinggranny.com on September 19, 2011:

Workers at Chrysler Group LLC, whose contract also expired on September 14, continue to negotiate for terms of their new deal.

The UAW is not allowed to call strikes for workers at GM and Chrysler under the terms of the federal bailouts which those companies received.

Workers at Ford Motor (which did not receive a federal bailout, which allows them to strike) are also in talks for a new contract.

One of the problems the union workers have with the proposed contract:

Some workers are angry that in the wake of Ford earning $9.3 billion in profits the last two years, the contract does not give back some of the things they lost in previous agreements, including cost-of-living raises. They are also mad about Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s $26.5 million pay package for 2010.

Also included in the proposed contract:

The deal would also commit Ford to hiring a total of 2,000 workers in the Chicago area, including 1,100 to be part of a new third shift at the company’s Chicago assembly plant. The contract agreement calls for Ford to hire 900 workers at its stamping plant and assembly plant within the next four years.

The most amazing statement in the article:

Morton (Grant Morton, United Auto Workers Union Local 551 plant chairman) said he still expects the 1,100 new jobs and new third shift at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant even if the contract does not pass. That is because the company plans to produce sedan and SUV versions of its new Police Interceptor vehicle at the plant. The vehicle will be launched in February. The plant has already produced a couple hundred of the Interceptors, according to Morton. The plant also produces the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus and Ford Explorer.

Something has gone horribly wrong with the way people look at their jobs and the companies that hire them. I suppose heads of corporations make ridiculous money. They also work a lot of hours and carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, why shouldn’t they be paid for it? What relationship does that have to the man who does an honest day’s work on an assembly line and goes home when the whistle blows? As employees, we need to be concerned about making ourselves more valuable to the companies we work for rather than worrying what the officers of the company make. I guess this is a very old-fashioned idea, but generally speaking, people are paid for the jobs they do. Some industries pay better than others, and some jobs pay better than others, but usually if you want a really high-paying job, you either have to have skills that are unique and hard to find, or you have to work at a job that has a high risk of failure. Those of us who are ‘average’ are going to receive ‘average’ wages. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is, and no amount of labor disruption or strikes against companies will change that. The only thing a prolonged strike against Ford will do is create financial problems for the company and put jobs at risk. Considering the economics of the present time, that is probably not a really good idea.

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