Monday, February 21, 2011

Do Wisconsin Teachers Actually Know What They're Protesting??

I can't imagine they do or I seriously doubt they'd be protesting...

Everyone was quick to join sides over the protests in Wisconsin, with most people siding with the teachers and union workers for being taken advantage of by their government. But the thing is... I started researching and as it turns out, the proposal on the table is pretty beneficial to the people of Wisconsin. Here's the skinny as this skinny girl sees it:

Background.... Wisconsin Guvnah Scott Walker took office in Jan 2011 and inherited a $3.6 BILLION budget deficit (*on the national level we blame this on the previous leader, but apparently on the state level we don't...go figure). To prevent the state of Wisconsin from absolute financial collapse, its debt would have to be drastically reduced. The Guvnah (Yankees, this is the correct pronunciation of "governor".) had two options for making this possible:
1. Raise taxes on the middle class who are already struggling in a floundering economy.
2. Fire 6,000 state employees.... Leave 6,000 people with no way to provide for their families and little chance of finding a new job in a floundering economy.
To his credit, the Guv believed that either these two options would be detrimental to the citizens and state of Wisconsin, so he issued a proposal instead...... Here are the main points:

1. No salaries are cut.
2. No benefits are cut.
3. No workers' rights are taken away.
4. Workers are actually given MORE rights.
5. Unions can't seek massive pay increases without a public referendum.
6. Workers won't HAVE to belong to a union and be forced to pay union dues.
7. Unions must hold yearly votes by union members in order to remain a union.

Under the proposal, union workers (teachers, city / state employees, etc.) would start contributing 5.8% to their pensions and 12% to their health insurance. Currently, union workers contribute 0% and Wisconsin taxpayers pay 100%. So..... as it's structured now, those who contribute nothing get everything and those who contribute everything get nothing.
Under this structure, the taxpayers continue to pay 94.2% of union workers' pensions and 88% of union workers' health insurance, and continue to receive neither for themselves. Most taxpayers who have health insurance and retirement plans have to pay for both out of their own pockets because they aren't guaranteed those benefits when working for private business. Even those who don't have health insurance because they can't afford it still have to pay for the health insurance (and other benefits) that union workers receive as part of their compensation (free of cost). Hold this thought....

Because the teachers are the loudest majority taking part in the protests, I'll use them as an example. The average teacher in Madison, WI currently earns about TWICE as much per year as the average private business employee. And technically the teachers have a shorter work year when factoring in summer vacations, extended holiday vacations, and all national holidays. Combine this with the first paragraph and you have this:
Private business employees who only make roughly half of what teachers make each year pay 100% of teachers' pensions and health insurance; on top of only making half as much as teachers to start with, private business employees (taxpayers) have to pay for the perks that teachers / union workers receive, while the taxpayers get none of those perks themselves. I should also point out that teachers & union workers are guaranteed a compensation each year. The average teacher's wage (over $50,000/year, NOT including benefits) has increased 21% over the last ten years, including a 4.7% increase last year. I wonder in the state our economy is in right now how many private business employees were given a 4.7% raise by their employer last year.......

I get that teachers are entitled to the compensation outlined in their employment contracts, I really do. I also think MOST teachers deserve every bit of what they earn. What they give in terms of time and dedication to educating America's youth is worth whatever they are paid and more (the good teachers, at least). BUT... is it fair to ask others to completely foot the bill for it when they themselves are struggling to make ends meet? After all, aren't these the same people who supported President Obama's idea that we must "redistribute the wealth"?

Another part of Walker's proposal is that from now on, union members be allowed to quit the union without losing their jobs. As it is now, teachers and other union workers aren't given that option. Join the union or lose your job. Period. For the life of me, I can't figure out how that is harmful to the workers... They're currently forced to join a union and pay union dues OR LOSE THEIR JOB. How exactly is giving the them option of joining or not unfair? Now... as for the "collective bargaining power" the unions are so afraid of losing... Where's the harm there?? Let teachers' unions bargain for teachers' wages and benefits and let steel workers' unions (just an example) bargain for steel workers' wages and benefits. Seriously? Children in Wisconsin are losing days of learning over this??? Really, Wisconsin?

As for the cowardly Democrats who fled the state so they don't have to vote? Grow up. As long as you're hiding in Illinois, teachers will protest in Madison. As long as teachers protest in Madison, the children of the people who elected you to office and pay your cushy paycheck are being denied their education.

And to the doctors offering doctors' notes at the protests to excuse the teachers from school because they're "sick", check your ethical obligations under the Hippocratic Oath. Google it.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is a beautifully clear analysis of the situation. If people had opportunity to understand the issues instead of being fed a bunch of mumbo jumbo by the media, they might act/think differently. Have you considered sending a letter to the editor of whatever paper is most read in Wisconsin?