Walker introduces more uncertainty to state and state government even while railing against it | Wis.Community

Walker introduces more uncertainty to state and state government even while railing against it

[img_assist|nid=79334|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=216|height=154]When Republicans on the state legislature's Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) yesterday unanimously approved the Walker administration's new "compensation" plan (actually, it's a dis-compensation plan with many changes to administrative rules and workplace policies), citizens who were paying attention once again were reminded that the current GOP majority in Wisconsin's statehouse is all about saying one thing and doing the opposite.

For months now, as I've pointed out in earlier blogs, a recurring theme in Republican rhetoric is that lawmakers have to take drastic and punitive economic actions (like cutting public employee pay and benefits and grabbing back a billion dollars or so from public school systems statewde). Why? Because the state was "broke" and they needed to reduce "uncertainty" in the business marketplace. Uncertainty, you see, hurts job growth. Their prescription: Be decisive and "bold" (another favorite Walker word) and certainty emerges, and jobs get created.

Only, the Walker administration policies have mainly served to increase uncertainty, as was the case again yesterday in what has become almost a daily ritual. Wisconsin is open for Walker monkey business.

Here's Marty Beil, executive Director of AFSCME Council 24, a state employee labor union, testifying yesterday at JCOER's hearing on the comp plan, which freezes state employee wages for two years, cuts even more benefits for those employees and gives the governor and his administration more power to mess around with civil service rules and workplace policies like overtime, seniority and grievances. And makes state government a lot less transparent in the process. Beil noted what others previously have pointed out, that since Walker's raid on sensible public policy, public worker retirements in this state have soared. Said Beil:

The spike in retirements is not merely driven by concerns about pay and benefits. It is also a result of the unknown, of the unpredictability, of what is to come. When we had the contracts and a collective bargaining process in place, workers and managers alike knew what to expect, and they knew the rules. There was a structure in place that everybody understood. This [compensation] plan marks the end of those structures and that predictability, and it is clear to us that that is a key reason why so many employees – both front line workers and managers – are taking a chance and getting out of state service.

If nothing else, the compensation plan, which goes into effect Jan. 1, has proved one of Walker's contentions. As his policies create more uncertainty, from the Capitol radiating outward to municipal governments and school districts across the state, and then to local private marketplaces, we have seen three straight months in which the state's official labor report has shown significant declines in the number of jobs across Wisconsin. This when most other states have begun reliably adding jobs in a weak but real national recovery.

It's hard to understand how a figurative bomb-thrower like Walker can ever talk about bolstering marketplace certainty. But he's still doing both. And that's going to be a large part of the reason why he's recalled. Beil ended his testimony by admonishing Republican legislators intent on approving the plan regardless of its manifest flaws and injustices:

Your infatuation with stripping workers of their rights and job protections will not be without consequences.

Now it's our job to prove that's right.

Here's a Wisconsin State Journal articlee from October that provides some detail on the compensation plan, and an online link to the plan itself. Trust me, the language of the plan is mostly impenetrable and would require a lifetime career in labor relations to fully understand. The most egregous part is where the administration gets the power to change the terms of the comp plan unilaterally and without notice or legislative oversight, which is probably unconstitutional. What's easy to understand is that Walker is pursuing an employee policy of making things up and changing the rules whenever it suits him:




November 18, 2011 - 11:31am