I have been following the fight between the governor of Wisconsin and the teacher’s unions, as has probably everyone else I know. Everyone has an opinion; some of these I heartily agree with and some I think are frankly just wacked. In particular, I think the desire to do away with collective bargaining is just evil. Yes, unions have gotten greedy. No one can argue with that. And yes, they’ve lost sight of their original purpose in many ways. But the power of the union lies WITH THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF MANY VERSUS ONE. And it has given us labor laws, minimums on wages, health insurance, and many other things most people don’t even think about, let alone appreciate.
One thing I don’t hear from the governor’s side, even though he make much of the fact that the state is ‘broke’ is this: He has made absolutely no mention of cutting his own salary, the salaries of his aides, the salaries of the state legislators, nor any of their pensions. To me, if you want to be known as a great leader, you have to lead by example and go yourself where you want people to follow. No other way will work. Or at least, work in a manner that makes people admire you and want to follow you.
So if I were governor, here’s what I would have already told the teacher’s union. “I have some bad news for you. We are broke. We can’t meet our obligations to you. We can’t continue to guarantee pensions without some concessions from you guys. And we can’t keep paying you with our present economic climate. But I don’t want to lay anyone off. We need our teachers to prepare our children for the future. A good education is priceless.
“So here’s what I propose. Today, I have taken a 10% salary cut, and made the same cut in my pension. I have directed my staff to also take the same pay and pension cut, and I have spoken with our state legislators and directed them to put forth legislation making their salaries and pensions 10% less than they are presently.
“I would like you to come to the table and voluntarily make the same sacrifices my team, our legislators, and I myself have done. This is not an easy time, and I know how much this can hurt. But this is the only way all of you can keep your jobs. Please join me in preserving our children’s educational future.”
Naturally, because he is one of the ‘elite’ though, this didn’t happen, and it won’t. But if I were governor it would have. Mr. Tin Foil says I would make a great politician. I say I could never get elected, because my principles are non negotiable. In a different world though….
Update: I wasn’t going to go into how the governor is a big time tea bagger and how his campaign was financed by the Koch brothers…wasn’t going to go into how WI ended up with a republican controlled legislature due to same….but found this video on YouTube and just had to link it here.