The Senate voted 18-1 to approve the removal of most collective bargaining abilities from union-represented state workers. The measure will be forwarded to the GOP led State Assembly for review and a vote most likely on Thursday.
The Senate’s action countered a questionable move by the state’s 14 Democratic Senators who fled the state on February 17th to prevent a quorum needed to vote on Governor Walker’s proposed Budget Repair Bill. A quorum is necessary when spending measures are included in any legislation requiring a vote.
Since the collective bargaining issue involves no spending, a quorum is not required. Accordingly, a new bill was drafted, presented and voted upon today, resulting in the measure passing the Senate.
The controversial collective bargaining issue exasperated unions not only in Wisconsin, but across the nation. The unions are fully aware of their steadily declining membership numbers across the country and reacted consistently as an organization fighting to survive extinction.
Governor Walker presented the collective bargaining issue as extremely relevant to the long term ability of the state to remain solvent and achieve balanced budgets. Indeed, he characterized the present $3.4 billion budget deficit as a product of years and years of excessive state worker benefits and pensions acquired as a result of the collective bargaining process.
One of the most historic Democratic Presidents of the past century, FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), authored the ‘New Deal’ which spawned many of the present day government entitlement programs including social security and the Wagner Act to promote labor unions.
Although FDR and his Democratic administration supported labor unions (in the private sector), he is also credited with the following quote about their presence in government (public sector) from a letter he sent on August 16, 1937, to Luther C. Steward, President of the National Federation of Federal Employees (union):
"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters."
"Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable."
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