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Parents Protest Walker's Bill Outside Cumberland

Crowd of about a dozen people held signs, distributed literature before school Tuesday morning.

About a dozen Whitefish Bay parents and students gathered Tuesday and Wednesday morning outside to protest a bill that would eliminate many collective bargaining rights of public union workers, including teachers.

Craig Johnson and his wife Paige Styler, both Whitefish Bay attorneys with a child in Cumberland Elementary School, organized the mini-rally through emails and phone calls to friends and active community members. Some of the protesters were state employees, Johnson said. He said he did not contact any Whitefish Bay School District employees to take part in the demonstration.

In addition to holding signs that said “Senator Darling Are You Listening” and “Public Employees Serve Our Community,” the group was also handing out literature asking residents to contact State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay).

“Our feeling is that as parents and residents of Whitefish Bay, the quality of schools and municipal services are directly related to how well you treat your employees," Johnson said in an interview. "We expect quality services and schools in Whitefish Bay. To expect that quality you need to recognize that public employees are valued people and ought to have a voice in how they are treated in the workplace.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature could vote on the measure included in Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill as early as Thursday.

Gilmore Tuttle February 23, 2011 at 04:33 AM
So the Union is willing to go to the mat for the collective bargaining rights? What an utter canard. Let me see if I've got this straight. Union collects $700 to $1200 every year from the members. Union allegedly bargains hammer and tong on behalf of members interests. Walker tells teachers we need to cut salary, cut healthcare coverage and cut pension benefits....big time. Prolly cost 5k minimum per head. ........Union says.......Fine go ahead, its not about that. Our teachers will concede.......but we absolutely will NOT CONCEDE our collective bargaining rights!!!!!! Well, fellas.....ya kinda just did. The only thing your really squawking about now is your ability to continue to confiscate $700-$1200 from rank and file you throw under the bus at the first sign of trouble. What good is the unions "Collective bargaining rights" to the members if the union folds on them like a pair of two's? Isn't this "collective bargaining right" just another way of saying "The right to keep fleecing the rank and file for dues so we can keep our union bosses place at the table with government"? Jesus Mahoney, they immediately caved in on everything that actually affects teachers pocketbook and chose to stand firmon the union's continued "right" to take another $1200 out when the state gets done with them. Man with union friends like that, who needs the Mob?
Gilmore Tuttle February 23, 2011 at 05:12 AM
The Detroit Federation of Teachers.....now THERE's a union that really fought to keep their collective bargaining rights. Teacher layoff after teacher layoff....Now Detroit is closing half their high schools. But boy oh boy, they sure did a bang-up job maintaining those collective bargaining rights for the few teachers that survived. I'm sure they'll both think about that fondly everyday above the din of sixty students, which is the projected average class size. Think that's an exaggeration? Go look. MPS teacher's union will go the same way. That big bad union will look the other way at every teacher layoff, every teacher pay cut. But mess with their "collective bargaining rights" (Read: automatic compulsory dues collection from the rank and file), and watch out! What a crock. Wake up you good teachers, you're college educated, very capable, very valuable commodities in the economy, the union needs you far, far more than you need them. For every hardworking teacher making 70% of what they're actually worth despite union representation, there is another teacher making 130% of what they're actually worth. Yep, and the union's got him convinced that they worked real hard to get him that. But you and I both know they took it from you and told you if it wasn't for them, the state would have you breaking rocks at lunch for minimum wage. Deep down, you know this is the simple truth. Hocum's Razor, if you will.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 05:45 AM
Just a few thoughts before I call it a night: A) Collecting dues is separate from collective bargaining. Totally different things. B) "Hocums" Razor! ...Did you mean Occam's Razor? C) We really don't want to go back to pre-union days. American history makes that very clear. D) And....have you seen this piece of info?: "Gov. Walker has been Informed That Bill Targeting Unions May Cost State $46 Million In Federal Funds. Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal transportation funds should they eliminate "collective bargaining rights" that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. " So... Wow! He gave back the train money, the high-speed internet money,will undoubtedly miss the deadline for refinancing the state deficit and now this. We're heading downhill at a blinding pace! Walker is single-handedly ripping this state apart and causing our financial ruin. Other than that, he seems fine.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 01:19 PM
I find D above disturbing, in that it appears our federal government is bribing states to participate in contracts with the unions. How much money would taxpayers have saved over time had they refused the bribes from federal union backers and negotiated employment agreements on their own? We already see what doing business with unions is costing us now. I hope Walker's refusal to cave into union pressure continues to bring things like this to light and isn't swayed by bribes and threats from their enablers in the federal government. In turn, I expect our federal government to return those funds to the taxpayer by using them to pay down existing debt should we refuse to be conned into taking them - instead of turning around and plowing them into another federal bribery scheme.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 01:58 PM
Its a rather big stretch to see the provisions in federal assistance grants to help prevent a state from using the money to decimate unions, as a "bribe". I do think that Walker, who has been clear about wanting to privatize everything, doesn't want to take money that contains such provisions since it would get in the way of his plans for the state. Its much easier to make the kind of changes he wants if the state's citizens are impoverished, powerless, and under-educated. I think putting the state in financial ruin and decimating the school system is a step toward transforming Wisconsin into Republicorp. The Koch brothers are helping him all they can.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 02:08 PM
It's not a stretch at all, Linda. Imagine a situation where the federal government gave the State of Wisconsin assistance with its purchase of fleet vehicles with the qualification that they purchase a particular brand at a price higher than what they could purchase them for on the open market. You'd be all over that and it's the same thing. What this whole situation is bringing to light is the stranglehold unions have on our entire system of government. That's got to stop. We can't afford them in their present form anymore. Either they change to meet the times like everyone else has, or they go the way of the dinosaurs.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 02:34 PM
The fact that the state teachers union was willing to make financial concessions shows they're receptive to changing with the times. Unions, and democracy too for that matter, are all about negotiating and finding solutions. You seem to think we'll be better off without unions, is that a fair statement?
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 02:56 PM
The willingness to make financial concessions only came after being pushed up against the wall and they still refuse to make those concessions unless they're allowed to make them without removing the obstacle that allowed them hold off until they were pushed up against the way. In other words, if further concessions are needed both on a state a local level (and they may very well be needed given the relatively small concessions requested this time around), we'll have to go through this whole charade again. Equating unions with democracy is ridiculous. If anything, they're about as undemocratic as things get. You pay to gain entry into them or you can't participate in whatever field they've infiltrated and you forgo your ability to negotiate on your own. How is that democratic? And yes based on what I've seen over the past week or so, I'd say we'd be much better off without unions, if this is the way they show their respect to their fellow taxpayers. This circus of the absurd is back-firing, big time. But lets go back to your Walker conspiracy theory here. And how about you explain in depth your statements about him wanting the citizens impoverished, powerless and under-educated. And who are the Koch brothers? You're kind of wandering into the area of crazy talk, Linda.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 03:26 PM
I agree, it does sound kind of wild and crazy that there is a multi-billion dollar corporation pulling some social engineering in our state, but I think its worth looking into. The Koch brothers http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/us/22koch.html ) own the second largest private company in the US. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. They're longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. The organization has taken up a range of topics, including combating the health care law, environmental regulations and spending by state and federal governments. The effort to impose limits on public labor unions has been a particular focus in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states with Republican governor. They are behind the groups Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity and the website Stand With Scott Walker. Watch any pro-Walker ads and notice at the end of the ad who funded it. Its usually Club For Growth. They were huge contributors to Walker's campaign and just a few weeks ago opened a lobbying office next to the capitol building in downtown Madison; http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_7e8aa25a-3ec0-11e0-9923-001cc4c03286.html What do you think Bob? Crazy talk? Maybe we should pay it some heed just in case.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Sorry, I'm siding with crazy talk. They're no different than all the lobbying groups that support Democrats. This the way it goes, partially thanks to attempts to regulate campaign financing. We know that unions are funding the anti-bill ads as well, under variously named groups. So what's the difference? There is none. The bottom line is this. The public sector has been practically immune to the economic effects heaped upon the private sector. Until they were pushed into a corner, they've been unwilling to relinquish this immunity and are still unwilling to relinquish it if the need arises in the future for more realistic concessions. They're clinging to a system that's outmoded, given the nature of our global economy. If you'd spent anytime whatsoever dealing in that economy, as I have, you'd see that. The concessions that are being asked for at this time are minimal. It's entirely possible that more concessions will have to be made. We can't go through this every time this comes up. We're approaching a breaking point on this. There are talks of layoffs and strikes. Nobody wants to see that, but we really can't go back to the way it was. It's time to sit down and sign this thing - as-is.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Bob, I just want to say thanks for the civility in your tone. We don't agree on this, but I think I understand your point of view.
Craig Johnson February 23, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Now, Bob, accusing people of "crazy talk" isn't nice. And by the way, I believe the Unions adds show they were paid for by the AFL-CIO. The pro-Walker ads? Paid for by the "Club for Growth." Which is more transparent? Also, I think we can negotiate when important changes need to be made. That's the point of giving people a voice in the workplace. I see it as the difference between democracy in the workplace and a more "top down" style of decision-making. I know you disagree, but that's a value that I think is important.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Craig, I'll just note here that you didn't take advantage of the option of deleting a one-liner above that really didn't add anything to the discussion. People in glass houses... People aren't stupid. They realize that an ad, regardless of what name goes under it (like one of the many George Soros uses, for instance) is paid for by someone who supports the position being proffered in the ad. Frankly, the positions aren't particularly cryptic, are they? Each side puts together an ad featuring a sepia tinted portrait of a morose looking family, an elderly couple with sad puppy expressions and a cabbage patch kid sporting a frowny face and we're to believe that, whatever the topic, we can make all those folks happy by calling so-and-so and telling them to do such-and-such. They're ads for chrissake! Ads are used to sell Hot Pockets and 6 blade shavers too but I don't think anyone is being lured into an addiction to micro-waved mouth-burners or blowing the family's toiletry budget on impossibly close shaves by viewing these devious promotional devices. Nobody is saying there won't be negotiation, Craig. You have a job, you're a lawyer. I'm pretty sure you negotiated some sort of compensation package and work agreement with wherever you work, didn't you? Must be satisfactory if you're still there. Do you think our public employees are too dense to do the same?
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Bob, you said "Nobody is saying there won't be negotiation". Actually, Walker said exactly that. http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/116737394.html Although its very difficult for anyone to get through to Walker now, he did take a call from a man he believe to be his billionaire supporter David Koch. The tapes are on line and its interesting to listen to. I personally don't care about some of the stuff, like Walker agreeing to accept a vacation paid for by Koch, or when he starts comparing himself to Reagan, or saying the protestors are just a "bunch of 60's radicals", but the part that bothers me is when he says that part of the plan to pressure Democrats is to lay people off. Apparently, the lay-offs are not financially motivated, they're part of a plan to bust the unions. I'd want to know that if I my job was terminated by the Governor..that I lost my job as part of a union busting strategy. Also, the part about tricking the 14 senators to come back and voting while they're sent out on a recess. Sounds rather immoral as well as illegal. Walker's office has confirmed that the call occurred.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Linda, Negotiations don't equal collective bargaining. I think if you look at the rest of what I wrote there, you'll see what I meant. Even were the unions to disappear completely, there would be negotiations. As for the prank call, I fault Walker (or his staff) for falling for it but it was a private conversation, most of what he said didn't differ from what he's said elsewhere and, yes, the mention of layoff is part of the plan to pressure Democrats, just as the talk of strikes is a part of the plan to pressure Republicans. Which is why I brought it up before. The debate has risen (or devolved, however you want to put it) to that level. I dare say that if someone like Erphenbach (sp) got caught in a similar scam, you'd probably hear about what amounts to some fairly run-of-the-mill behind the scenes scheming as well. I'm not saying that because they all do it, it's okay. Just that they all do it, whether you choose to believe so or not. It doesn't effect the issue at hand. It's just the way the game is played.
Craig Johnson February 23, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Bob, frankly I was kidding with the "not very nice" comment. Although I would also note your "usual battle of wits" comment earlier in this dialogue. Was that a compliment? And I stand by my comment about people who are constantly complaining about their co-workers being lazy and incompetent, and how they really deserve more pay than others because the quality of their work is so obiously high. I don't think that personality is generally very popular in a workplace. Back to the point of collective bargaining. Members of Unions value the voice it brings to the workplace. In some workplaces, perhaps not those you've seen, the opinions of employees are not always valued. Things like use of sick leave, scheduling of vacations, etc. can, at times, be effectively negotiated by a Union rep more so than an employee, because the Union rep is independent, and doesn't need to fear retaliation, back work assignments, etc. Again, it comes down to workplace democracy. I'm in favor of it. I expect you don't value it as highly, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. Again, perhaps we can agree to disagree.
Dave S February 23, 2011 at 08:01 PM
Being against unions does not mean being against workplace democracy. Why are these two concepts mutually exclusive? I'm against the idea of unions, but I don't walk around work telling people they're lazy and that they are paid too much. The anti-Walker crowd needs to understand that its possible to treat people fairly without unions. In fact, believe it or not, treating people poorly is usually grounds for getting fired. Most companies without unions are highly productive, AND the employees love to work there. Think Toyota. UAW in Georgetown KY tried to convince the employees to unionize, and they voted against it. Why on earth would they do that if they're treated so poorly?
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Do I think referring to the back and forth going on in union related negotiation, ie, the "usual battle of wits", was unkind? No, it was a description of precisely what we're seeing now. It's been called a lot worse things than that. Did you think I was referring to this discussion? Even if I was, I'm a part of it and I don't take offense at it. I honestly don't believe in "workplace democracy". If I work for someone who has invested their own life savings to start a business and they pay me an agreed upon wage and benefits - that I negotiate on my own - I don't expect to have a say in how they run their business or to get to "vote" on who gets to VP of Marketing, what product line they're going to produce, which ones they might eliminate, etc. There is no workplace democracy. There's a company or some other type of employer for whom I work at an agreed rate of compensation. In turn I work for them up until either they or I decide I don't anymore. That's pretty much it for myself and most of the population out there. It's a workable deal, but it's not a democracy. Similarly if I own a business and I employ a workforce I expect that they're going to perform the duties I request of them and not have to refer to some sort of chart of seniority every time I might wish to ask them to do something different for a change. This is how I want my government to run as well. It's the most efficient method of production.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Rep. Kelda Roys just issued a statement about the recording of Walker talking to someone impersonating billionaire David Koch. I agree with everything she said. I had the same reaction to the call. Rep. Roys statement: “I am aghast at Governor Walker’s shocking statement that he plans to layoff five to six-thousand workers as a means to extort democratically elected representatives and consolidate his political power. “While I have deep ideological differences with the Governor, my jaw fell open upon hearing him openly admit that his plan to destroy the lives and financial security of thousands of Wisconsin families was simply to blackmail the legislature to pass his radical attack on workers’ rights. “We knew Walker’s scheme had nothing to do with the state’s budget situation. Yet to hear him brag to his billionaire backer about using these hardworking families as his political pawns – dehumanizing them – while publicly sermonizing about job creation and corporate tax loopholes, shows a lack of integrity beyond my comprehension.”
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Walker's words (from the transcript http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/116751499.html ) “So we’re trying about four or five different angles. Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we’ll announce Thursday, they’ll go out early next week and we’ll probably get five to six thousand state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit too.” [Emphasis added.]
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Sending out an at-risk layoff notice isn't the same as laying someone off. It's letting them know that if layoffs become imminent, they are part of the pool from which those layoffs will be selected. Might be worth noting as well that this is a standard procedure done every year, in the event budget cuts require layoffs. Is he using these notices to ratchet up pressure? If that's a direct quote then yes he is. Is he laying off 5-6000 workers? No he isn't. Both sides are using what they have available in their arsenals to exert pressure. There's already talk of strikes being leaked out of the other side. This is the "battle of wits" I was referring to earlier.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 11:13 PM
"Is he using these notices to ratchet up pressure? If that's a direct quote then yes he is" Yes, it is a direct quote. "Is he laying off 5-6000 workers? " You're right. Sending out notices isn't the same as laying people off. We'll find out soon enough. Its interesting that people get riled up because a teacher said they were sick to attend the protest, or a student missed part of a class (with permission), maybe a protester dropped a gum wrapper--these are major atrocities, but hearing the governor say he's sending out lay-off notices in order to pressure other Democratically elected officials.....Well, that's just excused as "how the game is played". At least, as a result of this phone call he can drop the ruse that he's simply trying to balance the budget.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 11:31 PM
It is about the budget, absolutely. And if you want to see why it's necessary, you have to look no further than the title of this article: http://shorewood.patch.com/articles/after-20-months-of-talks-shorewood-teacher-have-new-contract 20 months. That's 4 months short of two years of "collective bargaining" to settle an issue related to pay. Multiply that by how many school districts and other municipal entities and you can see why it's imperative that it be curtailed. We haven't got that much time to get things in order here.
Linda Binder February 23, 2011 at 11:41 PM
From the article you linked to, it appears that was a very successful negotiation. Why does this make you unhappy Bob? Yes, it was time consuming but they state in the article that no one wanted to rush it, and they ended up with a contract that all parties feel good about. Sounds sensible. Here are some of the concessions made: Under new contract, retirees will receive only 61 months of health care benefits, compared to 96 months under the old deal. Health care benefits did not change significantly for teachers, although they will have to pay more in co-pay for prescriptions and office visits. Cash in lieu of health benefits were decreased from $8,200 to $6,000. “This voluntary agreement completes 20 months of discussions between district and SEA representatives,” School Board President Paul Zovic said. Zovic called the deal fair and said the concessions in health insurance will help reduce the district's operating costs. "There were some significant concessions made by teachers... it was fair, it's good for the teachers, it's good for the district," Zovic said.
Bob McBride February 23, 2011 at 11:55 PM
20 months for a contract that increases compensation overall by 3.13% per year during a time when we're in a budget crunch and you wonder why I'm unhappy? You have got to be kidding. Did you happen to notice that the people who "feel good" about it are the recipients of the increase and another party that really has no horse in the race? How happy do you think the taxpayers are going to be when the inevitable budget cuts coming down the pike hit and they're the ones making up the difference? In 20 months of "collective bargaining" did that thought even occur to anyone at all? I can answer that. No, they didn't. Because once they've got a contract, that's all those folks have to worry about. Once again, shooting craps with someone else's kitty.
Craig Johnson February 24, 2011 at 01:49 AM
Actually, my guess is that many people will be happy about the satisfactory conclusion to this contract negotiation. And I expect that many people in Shorewood will be happy that their teachers feel valued, feel appreciated, and likely will see that job satisfaction reflected in the classrooms. They know that when they choose to pay for quality, they will get quality in return. It's morning again in Shorewood....
Bob McBride February 24, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Well now I can see where the confusion comes from. The most familiar usage of the word budget would have to do with limiting expenses to those funds available or reasonably attainable. But apparently there's another usage of the word that I'm not familiar with. Budget, as used in that sense, is defined by the degree to which participants in a prolonged negotiation end up feeling valued and appreciated and respected and the amount of job satisfaction attained as a result of the said negotiations. So while the net result of the negotiation might fly square in the face of the traditional definition of budget, it's perfectly acceptable and happy-making for all involved using this alternative, empathetic definition. Now I think we're getting somewhere
Paul March 03, 2011 at 04:22 AM
I like how the Democrat parents drag their kids into their anti-taxpayer rally. Did they think it would make for a good photo op? They'll probably take them to a good ole flag burning rally this weekend. It will be nice when the pro-union people stop misinforming people about the issues. Walker is going to benefit the kids by managing the state's finances responsibly. A big part of the position we find ourselves in today is because Jim Doyle and the Democrats didn't plan ahead. Instead they raised taxes and fees on working people, stole money from segregated funds and created debts that they couldn't repay. How did that benefit the students? We now have a leader who is responsible and not beholden to the unions. We all will have to deal with the hangover from eight years of Doyle's mismanagement but our kids will come out ahead when we get through it. By eliminating some of the collective bargaining abilities, our communities will be able to make deals that make sense on a local level and not ones that cater to a political agenda. One of the best results of reduced collective bargaining capabilities is that local school boards and village boards will have to be more accountable.
George Nuffle March 11, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Lets get rid of Pasch ! She is just stoking the flames and forcing tax payers to pay unreasonable salaries and benefits ! Pasch is for the union thug mindset , and it needs to be stopped !
Lu March 28, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Why is it when budget cuts are announced it's always the students that get the short end of the stick (as some might suggest)? Does anyone think that maybe the system needs to be revamped such that we can get more from less? Maybe it's time that public employee's chip in a little for the great benefits that they receive from taxpayers? Maybe, through open competition for healthcare insurace providers for teachers and other public employee's that cost (fat) can be cut from the system such that benefits to public employee's are largely left in tact while most, if not all, public employee's retain their jobs? Maybe, just maybe, it's worked out just fine for public employees in other states where collective bargaining "rights" have been reduced? I haven't heard that public employees in other states are lining up in soup lines as a result of changes to their "rights". It's time to stop fighting to maintain the status quo for a select few and start making real, impactful changes that will serve to benefit everyone in the long run.

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