Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has threatened to call in the National Guard.
Work Day Minnesota reports teachers joined thousands of people protesting in Wisconsin in response to Walker’s plans that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for teachers and many other public employees.
Walker’s plan would stop unions from seeking pay increases above the Consumer Price Index. Further, unions would lose much power, needing to hold votes annually to stay organized and no longer having power to force members to pay dues.
In a move with supremely bad timing, Walker threatened to bring in the National Guard and has stated that if his plan were to be rejected it would lead to many being laid off. Unsurprisingly, this has led to comparisons with former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
While workers were worried about their wages, the New York Times reports they are also worried about their rights. The change could cripple unions and make any further labor movements in the state difficult to organize.
Curiously, the only unions that remained unaffected by Walker’s plans are the local police, firefighters and state troopers unions. All of those unions had supported Walker in the 2010 election, and all of them would retain their collective bargaining powers under his plan.
Lessons from Other Governors
Walker is not alone. Governors all over the country are facing budget concerns and each has their own ways of dealing with the problem.
The New York Times profiles two of these governors. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is working in a method somewhat similar to Walker’s. He is working on huge spending cuts, capping taxes and has worked to push around unions. His plan is somewhat similar to Walker’s, although Walker could learn here that there is a line to cross when definitively cutting off unions’ power altogether.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy takes a somewhat different approach from the other two governors. Rather than use his position to bully others, he politely asks people to make sacrifices, accept tax increases and has sworn not to make any cuts to education.
His strategy is to ask everyone to make sacrifices, but only after he has shown a willingness to make cuts in tough places. Rather than making those cuts in the public sector, he has sworn to avoid making cuts in areas such as education or Medicaid.
Obviously, each governor has to lead how he sees fit, but Walker seems to have gone too far in this occasion. While he doesn’t necessarily need to follow the more liberal Malloy, certainly someone could show him a way that doesn’t lead to pretests.