Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Scott Walker ran for Governor on a promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin. So far, he's chased off more than 12,000 jobs. When not sending jobs to other states, he's busy talking about making good jobs less good by cutting pay for thousands of Wisconsin workers.
The campaign is over. Now it is time to hold him accountable.
Join a silent protest outside the Capitol on Inauguration Day.
11:15am - 12:15pm -- Monday, January 3rd, 2011
Signs reading "WE WANT GOOD JOBS NOW" will be available at 10:30am in the basement of The Argus Bar and Grill, 123 East Main St.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
From another UW Oshkosh employee/WPEC member. Used with his permission.
T’was the week before Christmas and all through the State
All employees were leery - what would be our fate?
Labor contracts were hung, defeated again.
There was no more hope for a last minute bargain.
Months of negotiations have been thrown out the window
All those promises and concessions are now just hot air flow.
Union bosses and Dems wring their hands in defeat
as the new "conservative" group prepares to take their seat.
The State Employees Union and AFSCME and WPEC,
All hopes have been dashed by the governor-elect.
"More furloughs, no raises, higher premiums for health care,
you state employees must pay your fair share."
When will the people realize, we're not the ones to blame.
It's the folks down in Madison, regardless the letter by their name.
Republicrats and Demicans, wings of the same bird.
Neither can balance a budget no matter what you've heard.
We work for less pay in exchange for the promise
of being well cared for, that's part of the process.
Yes, our benefits are nice but our pay not so much.
We're not complaining, this isn't some crutch.
Like other employees we just make a living.
Why do the rest of you seem so unforgiving?
Sell the mansion, trim your staff,
combine with the Lieutenant - maybe each just needs half?
The budget problems are real but let’s douse this small blaze:
we've already gone two years with no raise.
The economy is down, everyone has suffered
except elected officials who are quite buffered.
They have no idea - it's really a crime.
Let them cut their pay and give back some this time.
What will they do if we all up and quit?
No, that won't happen - are you full of spit?
But tread very careful our governor to be,
or pitch forks and torches may cause you to flee.
No threats, no coercions, no we won't be mean.
'Cause you're up for re-election in two-thousand fourteen.
Now to end this little rhyme without any fight,
Happy Festivus to all and to all a Good Night.
(All rights reserved – reprint permitted with proper credit given.)
Daniel M. Hoyt
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Comp. Time/Overtime language that the Republicans were harping on isn't anything that employees do not already have in their contracts. It gave employees the right to choose between Comp. or Overtime rather than the employer, but, the rate of compensation didn't change. In fact some agencies/employee groups have had this language for several contracts.
The 2009-11 Compensatino Reserve was constructed, presented, and passes into law with no dollars for wage increases or market adjustments for any represented or non-represented employees. The Compensation plans (Non-Rep and Fac/Ac) approved earlier, and these bargaining agreements contain no wage or market increases
The compensation Reserve that was passed was designed to account for various increased employer costs, including Health Insurance and Retirement. It is anticipated that the CR is sufficient to cover the employers biennial costs (ie., to June 30, 2011) though agency draws are affected by many factors, including vacancy rates. As an indication, FY 10 closed with a POSITIVE BALANCE of $2.7 million.
General wage adjustments FY 2010 $0
Market reserve adjustments FY 2010 $0
General wage adjustments FY 2011 $0
Market reserve adjustments FY 2011 $0
Tier 1 Single $33
Tier 2 Single $72
Tier 3 Single $173
Employees will pay an additional $1.3 million/annual in contributions to their health insurance premiums.
(Chicks Note--These increases would have started in January 2011. Since the contracts were not approved the increases will not go into effect until the contracts are negotiated with the new administration)
The changes are not in the contract, but, all State employees will pay .2% or .8% toward their retirement depending on their employment category (protected, non-protected). Employee contributions are estimated at $5 million annual
Furloughs of 8 days per fiscal year will continue. This equates to a 3.08% wage REDUCTION per employee or about $50 million/annual.
TOTAL CONCESSIONS FOR 2009-2011 Biennium would have been $103.15 million.
Althought the contracts were not approved on December 15, most provisions of this agreement are already in place, except for the health insurance increases. The contract that was up for approval memorialized conditions that employees have been working under since July 2009.
So, once again the Governor-elect and his cronies are ending up costing the state money in not getting passing the contracts. THE INCREASED HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS WOULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED $1.3 MILLION ANNUALLY TO THE STATE.
I am a state employee who is extremely upset today. I and 39,000 other people do not understand what we ever did to make you hate us so much. I am also the chair of the Winnebago County Democratic Party. Both of your votes offended me as a fellow Democrat.
Let me tell you a little about myself so that you know who you are talking to. I work at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Polk Library, where I am the coordinator of Interlibrary Loan. I have a Bachelor's degree and I have worked at the University for 25 years. I make $35,000 per year gross, which amounts to about $26,000 after taxes. After I pay my mortgage and other bills, this leaves me around $25 or so per day to survive on. I drive a 10 year old car that needs new tires. My home needs a new roof badly and it also needs to be resided. I need a new winter coat and I am trying to figure out how I am going to manage to make my paycheck stretch enough to buy Christmas presents for my family. I am not married, but I share a home with my best friend, because we each could not afford to live on our own. I give to charity as much as I can, but that will most likely have to stop now, since we are facing more deductions from our paychecks. I feel luckier than some of my fellow employees. Many of them make a lot less than I do. They have families and a lot of them have had to take on second jobs. There are a lot of us who have to use food pantries because one check only stretches so far. I don't know anyone who makes more than $50,000 per year (and that's the minority of civil service employees here at UW Oshkosh).
I became involved in the Democratic Party because I thought perhaps it would make a difference in the lives of myself and other fellow workers. Apparently I was wrong. I feel sold out today. I am asking you to please go back when the state senate is called back into session this morning and change your vote to yes. Please don't hurt me and my fellow employees any more. Just for your information, you made a grown woman cry today as she was getting ready for work. Shame on you.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
If the legislature truly respects the work of our public employees, they should honor that work by
scheduling a vote and ratifying the agreements between the Administration and public employee unions,
and do so with the same strong, bi-partisan support as it has done so with in the past.
The legislature has a long history of ratifying these contracts without partisanship or politics getting in
the way, regardless of the partisan control of the administration or legislature. It is deeply disappointing
that the long standing tradition of the legislature ratifying employee contracts this way is now
threatened. However, the Governor-Elect and many of his fellow Republicans have decided to use this
contract as an opportunity to wage war on a certain group or workers, without any regard or recognition
for the financial sacrifices those employees have already made.
The public employees have taken significant salary cuts and increased benefit costs in these contracts,
tough decisions driven by difficult fiscal and economic realities. In addition, while 10% of state
positions have remained un-filled over the last year, state workers have taken on larger work loads
because they care so deeply about their jobs and their state. Demonizing and threatening workers after
those workers have agreed to contracts that substantially restrict their earning for their families is
offensive. Indeed it is troublesome that these employees may be unilaterally deprived of earnings
necessary to meet family needs because the Republicans don't think they have suffered enough.
The incoming administration and legislative leadership may not like unions, but that does not give them
license to undo the state budget, especially after choosing not to offer any alternatives on the subject
during the budget process. They offered no budget amendments requiring public employees take greater
salary cuts or pay more for their health insurance or pensions while the budget was bring written. To
only try to address this now, through the ratification process, is irresponsible. The Legislature should
honor these two year old agreements and not attempt to impose new restrictions on employees who have
already met their side of the deal. It is punitive to retroactively impose economic hardship on employees
who have professionally fulfilled their responsibilities to the state. I fully expect the Administration and
incoming Republican majorities to adopt numerous changes to public employee collective bargaining in
the next budget but the most respectful approach is to seek a cooperative and respectful relationship with
the State employees instead of the combative nature that has accompanied the debate on these contracts.
Let’s be clear, the workers affected by these contracts are middle class, working families who help
provide vital services to their neighbors, not the “economic elite” that the incoming Governor and
Republicans would have the public believe they are. The hysteria of the attacks leveled by Governor-
Elect Walker against these workers would lead one to believe that they are receiving Wall Street size
bonuses, while the truth is that they are taking pay and benefit cuts, just like many in the private sector.
These employees are not the dark angels responsible for the state’s budget crises. They are our middle
class neighbors who work hard and provide vital services to the citizens of Wisconsin. They work in our
fire halls, promote public safety, care for the disabled, plow our roads, teach our children, prosecute the
criminals and protect our environment. They pay taxes and strive to meet their obligations to their
families, the state and their communities. They too are stressed by economic uncertainty and are
burdened by increased costs to heat their homes and buy goods and services. They also have been hurt
by home value depreciation which limits their ability to improve their homes and lives. During my
campaign I publicly stated my expectation that additional sacrifice will be required of all of us but if
workers are expected to share in additional sacrifice they should be entitled to know what kind of shared
sacrifice the business community will endure and have a seat at the table to determine a fair, responsible
and mutual determination that sacrifice is equal to others.
It’s painful to see the incoming Governor utilize harsh and punitive rhetoric that is so contrary from the
respectful relationship his predecessors have maintained with our public employees. There is a
respectful way to deal with workers and there is a demeaning way. The mature approach to negotiations
is to have a conversation before confrontation. The Wisconsin way is to seek mutual cooperation to
approach common goals instead of treating workers as the enemy. Partisanship has never gotten in the
way of ratifying contracts. The responsible step is to honor the work public employees have performed
and acknowledge their financial sacrifice before demanding retroactive economic sanctions to address
economic problems these employees are not responsible for creating.
Governing is not easy and there are few right answers to the difficult economic challenges from this
recession. However, our employees are part of the commonwealth that makes Wisconsin special. I
strongly encourage my colleagues to depart from the polarizing politics of the election and maintain the
tradition that most Republicans have fully embraced through the years that honor the value of their
work but importantly would acknowledge the true meaning of shared sacrifice in dealing with
Wisconsin's budget problems
Friday, December 10, 2010
The chicks are getting annoyed enough to come back in from the coop and make some comments on the week that was with Wisconsin’s Governor-elect.
Last Thursday Scotty got to ride a big airplane to Washington DC to meet the President of the United States. He even got to eat lunch at the same table as the Secretary of the Dept. of Transportation. His hope was that when President Obama met him, he would be so impressed that he’d say, oh yes, you can use that stimulus money on roads instead of a train. Guess he found out that wasn’t going to happen….but more on that later.
On Friday, it was a little less exciting for the Governor-elect. Bet he didn’t even know that he was just a short way from the chicks coop. The chicks decided to just do our own thing on Friday, be happy and get a big green tree to put in the coop. We ignored his visit. However, lots of the chicks friends and coworkers worked very hard setting up Kolf Fieldhouse for his visit as part of the New North Summit. Unfortunately the Governor elect doesn’t realize that some of the folks who work hard to make these events happen are making less then $30,000 a year! A few days later, he was busy saying mean spirited things, like the “haves” (ie., State Employees) need to fork over some of their “extra” money and contribute more for health insurance and pensions. Kinda tough to figure out how someone making less then $30,000 a year, taking 8 furlough days and looking at more toward their pension and health insurance in January is going to find that extra money.
While Scotty was visiting Oshkosh, our WSEU friends were getting their ballots to vote on their 2009-2011 contract. Some mean ol’ Republican roosters and hens got a copy of some of the new language and are making simple concepts like compensatory time and overtime seem evil. Our friends have always had that language, the employee just has a choice now which they want to use. They also saw the proposal for health insurance contributions and said it’s just not enough, you must pay more or we will take away your union. The Governor-elect isn’t real happy with our WSEU friends and sent his minions out to say mean things about them over the weekend to say.
Scotty must have gotten coal in his St. Nicholas sock on Monday, because on Tuesday he was pretty upset when in talked to the Milwaukee Press Club making threats to our state employee friends. Using nasty words like decertify the unions that represent State employees. He also hinted that he’d like to see all unions have their feathers clipped by making Wisconsin a Right to Work state. The chicks sure aren’t surprised by this, but, seems like some folks just weren’t listening in fall when we were working hard to get a much better person elected as Governor.
On Thursday, Oshkosh got it’s first real snow of the season. Everything is pretty and white, but, the Grinch that Stole Christmas (also known as the Governor-elect), got his first gift. President Obama took away the money for the train that was going to go from Milwaukee to Madison and help give people jobs. But, the Grinch didn’t get exactly what he wanted, the President told him that he couldn’t use the money for roads either.
High speed train around Wisconsin would have been real nice for our people friends to use to travel instead of having to drive on slippery highways. Guess we all have to remember what the Lt. Govenor-elect said when she was campaigning, “I don’t need at train….I have a minivan”. Maybe she doesn’t have to pay almost $3 a gallon for gas on State Employee wages….oh wait, she has Health insurance from the state and her husband IS a state employee right now. Whoops, I forgot.
And now we’ve reached Friday. The Governor-elect gets to make make a big check mark next to “eliminate high speed rail from Milwaukee to Madison” on his Christmas list. I’m sure the next check mark he’d like to make is to eliminate those pesky unions.
But, remember Scotty, just like with the train, “you can’t always get what you want”.