A big black cloud*, darker than any that hovered over Joe Btfsplk, casts a doomsday shadow on the statewide teachers union headquarters, high up on Nob Hill overlooking the Wisconsin State Capitol. (* Please don't call me a racist, Mr. Ed.)
These are end times for WEAC, the special interest that dwarfs WMC and even the Potawatomie Indian casinos as big players in the lobbies of the Capitol.
The state teachers union is laying off 42 employees -- 40 percent of its workforce -- to cope with reduced revenue. The union, of course, blames Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining reforms. WEAC exec director Dan Burkhalter ascribes the income deficit to fewer teachers. True as far as it goes, which is not far. Milwaukee's local opted for layoffs over shared sacrifice. So, blame your own members in Milwaukee. Otherwise, there have been few layoffs -- thanks again to Gov. Walker and the Republican Legislature.
No, what's at work here is that Act 10 of the Wisconsin Statutes makes union membership -- and therefore union dues -- voluntary. One might say, this is what democracy looks like. Members free to choose. School choice, as it were.
As a public service, the Blaska Policy Research Factory offers these nostrums:
- The union could raise its dues enough so that they do not have to lay anybody off. Isn't that what their Democrat(ic) clients in the Legislature would do? A little "revenue enhancement" would be an "investment" in something or other.
- Maybe the Wisconsin Education Association Council should have refrained from blowing $2.5 million of its members' cash in lobbying the Doyle-Pocan-Miller regime in 2009-10, according to the Government Accountability Board.
- Or the union could have saved $1.6 million it blew on (mostly) Democrats in the November 2010 election when Republicans swept the table.
- Perhaps WEAC could have held onto the $900,000 of its members dues it dumped into Republican senators recall elections this summer. Not a very good bet; the legislature remains in Republican hands.
- Here's another idea: Mr. Burkhalter, WEAC is not having a very good year. Maybe you should take a pay cut -- even half your $242,807 compensation in 2008 is still a good salary. WEAC president Mary Bell could contribute some of her $173,466. Four other executives were paid nearly $190,000 and a fifth got $165,112. It's on page 13 of their IRS filing (PDF).
- Failing that: Jeremy Ryan, Michael Moore, Brett Hulsey -- bring your vuvuzelas, bullhorns and liberal outrage to Nob Hill. Stand up to WEAC in its war on the middle class! John Matthews, shut down Madison's schools and bus your teachers to 45 Nob Hill Road.
Failing all that, let us pray that those 42 former WEAC employees can be rehabilitated and returned to society as useful, law-abiding citizens with a marketable skill.
John Nichols, call your office
The World Socialist website (published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, no less) gets "Behind the sellout of the struggle in Wisconsin."
What the union executives opposed was the bill's attack on their financial sustenance in its abolition of the automatic dues-check off. Hence the rush to put in place new union contracts before the law goes into effect. This underscores the fact that workers are not just pitted against Walker and the Republicans, but the unions and the Democrats.
Tuesday was last call for recalls
As I patiently explained on August 10, there will be no Walker recall. Public Policy Polling agrees:
Public sentiment in Wisconsin is moving against a recall of Scott Walker. ... 50% of Wisconsin voters generally oppose a recall of Walker, compared to 47% in favor. Those numbers are flipped from our last statewide poll, in May, which found 50% generally in support of a recall and 47% in opposition.
Platinum subscriber stuff
- Someday, really, I do expect that Fighting Ed Garvey will honor his pledge to print my screed on his website as the price of losing his bet with me, made on Wisconsin Public Radio. He's had my words of wisdom since August 11. Do Democrats keep their promises?
- As I vaticinated on August 2, Tommy Thomspson is in, or as good as in.
- Today's must read: the indispensable James Bovard on Section 8's role in spreading crime in today's Wall Street Journal.
- Who is Joe Btfsplk?