Thinking Citizen Blog — The Legacy of Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin (2011–2019)

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: The Legacy of Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin (2011–2019)

In his op-ed piece in the New York Times on August 26th, former Governor Walker proclaimed that his “conservative reforms worked wonders in blue Wisconsin.” What were they? Did they? Today, excerpts from Walker’s article. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

WHAT WALKER FIXED — A SENIORITY SYSTEM BASED ON UNION BOSS RULE (according to Walker)

1. “A caseworker once came into my office with tears in her eyes, offering to take a cut in pay to keep her newer colleagues on the job. Milwaukee County, where I served as the top executive at the time, was forced to lay off staff members after deep cuts in state aid to local governments and schools before I became governor of Wisconsin.”

2. “Under the old union contract system, which was based on seniority, the last in is the first out. Many of those facing the layoffs were young and had families.”

3. “In an attempt to avoid layoffs, we tried to be innovative and proposed 35-hour workweeks — one a month for four months. I, too, would take the cut in pay. The union bosses said no. I remember that day.”

NB: “Our reforms in Wisconsin — known as Act 10 — changed that by all but eliminating collective bargaining for government employees. This puts the taxpayers and the officials they elect back in charge of their state and local governments, instead of unelected union bureaucrats.”

MERIT SHOULD DRIVE PAY, AND UNION MEMBERSHIP SHOULD BE A CHOICE

1. “Now staffing and pay can be driven by merit and performance.”

2. “Schools can put the best teachers in the classroom and keep them there.”

3. “Our reforms also provided freedom of choice to workers. They can choose whether they want to be part of a union or not.”

NB: “When a Democratic governor and Democrats in the State Legislature cut funding to local governments in 2009 and 2010, school districts like Milwaukee’s were forced to lay off teachers because the union contract didn’t leave them any other options. Our reforms changed that relationship and helped school districts save billions of dollars.”

A COUNTER EXAMPLE: COVID-19 AND THE STRANGEHOLD OF UNION BOSSES IN CHICAGO

1. “Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago recognized the damage done to students — particularly Black and Hispanic children — who had not been in a classroom for nearly a year.”

2. “In February she expressed her ongoing frustration, saying “We are failing those children by not giving them the options to return to school. Failing grades. Depression. Isolation, And so much more.”

3. “Sadly the union bosses fought the mayor throughout the process, even though Roman Catholic schools in Chicago have been open since last fall. Cases like this suggest that more states and jurisdictions could use our common-sense reforms.”

NB: “If Chicago were in Wisconsin, school officials would determine whether their system was open and under what circumstances — not the union bosses.”

FOOTNOTES — FDR, LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, BUDGET SURPLUS

1. “President Franklin Roosevelt raised concerns about government unions, writing, “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service.”

2. “During my time in office, unemployment in Wisconsin dropped below the previous record of 3 per cent as more people were working than ever before.”

3. “Median household income was up, as were wages.”

NB: “We balanced the budget every year with a surplus, fully funded our retirement system and had a rainy-day fund 190 times as large as when we started.”

Opinion | Conservative Reforms Worked Wonders in Blue Wisconsin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Walker_(politician)

For the last three years of posts, organized thematically:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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