Wisconsin

The Revenge of the Blob

John Stossel at RealClearPolitics writes again about the intransigence of teacher unions in opposing any reform at all.

I wrote recently how teachers unions, parent-teacher associations and school bureaucrats form an education “Blob” that makes it hard to improve schools. They also take revenge on those who work around the Blob.

Here’s one more sad example:

Ben Chavis, founder and principal of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, got permission to compete with the Blob in Oakland, Calif. Chavis vowed, “We’ll outperform the other schools in five years.” He did. Kids at the three schools he runs now have some of the highest test scores in California.

His schools excel even though the government spends less on them.

But Chavis paid his wife to do accounting work, rented property to his schools and didn’t follow all of the Blob’s rules. So last month, the Oakland School Board said it might close the schools.

Parents and students begged the Blob — pardon me, the school board — not to. One sobbing mother pleaded with the board: “As soon as (my son) goes to this school, he’s a top student. … And now you guys want to take that away from me.” Many students implored, “Please don’t close down our school!”

The school board voted to close the schools anyway.  Read more »

Dealing with Public Sector Unions

California is in terrible trouble, their budget deficit is eye-wateringly large and many of their cities are broke too. Yet the politicians refuse to face up to their responsibilities. Much of the blame for the parlous state of the finances is being laid squarely at the feet of the public sector unions and their excesses and abuses of the taxpayer’s pocket.

National here needs to address the excesses of the PSA and other unions, in particular the various teacher unions who seem to think that it is their role to engage in general politics rather than focus on issues for their members:

Wisconsin’s Progressive political tradition rivals California’s, which only highlights the disparity between the two states as California’s leaders refuse to even acknowledge fiscal reality, let alone confront it in a serious way. Walker and his reforms were sparked by a $3.6 billion budget deficit, which is a rounding error in California budget terms. But his understanding of the core issue—the abuses perpetrated by the privileges and greed of public sector unions—may have stemmed as his stint as county executive in Democratic Milwaukee County, where he had to clean up an ugly pension scandal where government workers were granting themselves outrageous bonuses.

Wrote Bruce Murphy in the Madison alternative weekly called the Isthmus, “In the bitter aftermath of the failed recall, there will be many blaming a vast right-wing conspiracy, out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers, and Gov. Scott Walker’s polarizing, take-no-prisoners style. But Democrats and unions might want to take a look in the mirror. For it was their willingness to abuse government benefits—with sweetheart deals benefiting only a minority of workers—that led directly to defeat.”

A government program we can all believe in

As regular readers will know I abhor government programs…that is until I saw this one from Wisconsin:

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Hey, Pass me a beer

ᔄ Mashable

Foaming suds like this would get you a punch in the face in New Zealand:

“Hey, Pass Me a Beer” is a YouTube masterpiece shot in Milwaukee by Funny or Die contributors Almost Twins, both Milwaukee natives.

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Why people hate unions

ᔄ Boston.com

Some more good commentary about Wisconsin’s recall election.

If unions just represented workers rights from the excesses of the worst employers they would be much more palatable to most people to join. Instead we get a bunch of unpleasant, arrogant, holier than thou class warriors who fight battles lost years and years ago.

It is little wonder the Labour Party is getting its share of the vote gobbled up by the Greens. Moroney, Fenton, Little, Mallard and other union hacks go into God Mode and send people looking for a viable left wing alternative, which the low rat cunning of Russel Norman is providing.

The second harbinger was the plunge in public-employee union membership. The most important of Walker’s reforms, the change Big Labor had fought most bitterly, was ending the automatic withholding of union dues. That made union membership a matter of choice, not compulsion — and tens of thousands of government workers chose to toss their union cards. More than one-third of the Wisconsin members of the American Federation of Teachers quit,reported The Wall Street Journal. At the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, one of the state’s largest unions, the hemorrhaging was worse: AFSCME’s Wisconsin rolls shrank by more than 34,000 over the past year, a 55 percent nose-dive.

Did government workers tear up their union cards solely because the union had lost its right to bargain collectively on their behalf? That’s doubtful: Even under the new law, unions still negotiate over salaries. More likely, public-sector employees ditched their unions for the same reasons so many employees in the private sector — which is now less than 7 percent unionized— have done so: Many never wanted to join a union in the first place. Others were repelled by the authoritarian, belligerent, and left-wing political culture that entrenched unionism so often embodies.

Did money buy Wisconsin’s result?

ᔄ Mischiefs of Action

The left wing is whinging that Scott Walker raised and spent much more than their guy and as a result he bought the election. This of course ignores the money spent on behalf of the Democrat candidate by the big monied unions.

So did big money buy Wisconsin’s election…the short answer is no.

What this election gave us is a rare and precious thing: a gubernatorial rematch. Walker and Barrett faced each other less than two years ago. Walker beat Barrett by five points back then, after raising $11 million to Barrett’s $6 million. That is, Walker raised 65% of the funds raised by the Republican and Democratic candidates that year and he won 53% of the two-party vote. This week, Walker raised about 88% of the funds raised by the two candidates and he won — wait for it — 54% of the two-party vote.

So there’s your money effect, folks. Go from a 2:1 money advantage to a 7:1 money advantage, and it could increase your vote share by a full percentage point! Woo hoo!

Public Sector Unions vs Private Sector Unions

ᔄ Big Think

Will Wilkinson discusses the differences between private sector unions (good) and public sector unions (bad) in the wake of the Wisconsin recall elections:

I’ve argued elsewhere that public- and private-sector unions are quite different beasts and that public-sector unions cannot be justified on liberal-democratic grounds while private-sector unions are not only unobjectionable, but desirable. I’ve argued that it’s not only possible but reasonable to support private-sector unions as a safeguard against economic exploitation and oppose public-sector unions as an instrument of political exploitation, but I don’t think I’ve said enough about why private-sector unions are a good idea.

Competition essentially keeps private sector unions relevant and reduces the worst excesses of unions:

Competitive globalized markets for labor and capital make the worst excesses of unions infeasible. That outsourcing and capital flight would prevent a reinvigorated American private-sector labor movement from becoming as a powerful force for a more social-democratic politics is a fact progressives have a hard time accepting, but for me that fact is more feature than bug.

…It’s pretty clear that global market forces function worldwide to keep unions’ worst anti-competitive instincts in check.

Democracy Dead?

ᔄ Andrew Sullivan

Only the left wing, that caused a recall election, that then lost the recall election can wail that democracy is dead when they lose a vote. There is nothing better than seeing the bitter, bitter tears of defeat on a socialist’s face:

Busting the Myth of Unions Representing Workers

ᔄ Forbes.com

Remove pay cheque deductions and force unions to ask members to renew their membership every year. Then they have to prove they are providing members value for money. Or the members walk, as they have in Wisconsin.

Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members’ interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them.  Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third. Given unions’ influential role in most elections, the national implications of this trend are staggering.

Public Sector Unions take it hard in the chook

ᔄ Forbes.com

Bill Frezza says that unions have reached their high water mark. After Wisconsin perhaps Jonathan Coleman could have a crack at the PSA here. They are National’s enemy and need a good going over. The pity is that Coleman is one of National’s wets, and had to almost hand in his man card after going squirrelly on the Crafar farm deal and so it is unlikely he would man-up to take on the PSA. I wonder of John Key might like to ask Tony Ryall to take on this special project?

Public sector unions have reached their high water mark. Let the cleanup begin as the red ink recedes.

Despite a last-minute smear campaign accusing Scott Walker of fathering an illegitimate love child, the governor’s recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it. The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama’s refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We’ll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support.