Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Wisconsin Teachers' Crisis: Who's Really to Blame?

Andy Rotherham with some great questions for everyone involved with WI:

1. Governor Walker: Can you make a case that you're not using the state's fiscal crisis in a cynical attempt to weaken organized labor?

5. President Obama: You're now rushing to defend the unions in Wisconsin, deploy resources there and say that people shouldn't vilify public-sector workers as a cause of our fiscal woes. Yet in December, you singled out civilian federal-government employees for a two-year pay freeze to show your seriousness about deficit reduction (even though the measure would save only $28 billion over five years, while the the federal budget is more than $3.5 trillion each year). Have you played any role in creating this anti-public-sector climate?

6. National and Wisconsin union leaders: We keep hearing how there isn't any difference between collective bargaining for steelworkers or autoworkers and bargaining for public-sector workers like teachers. Not exactly. While steelworkers can't pick the boards of directors for steel companies, teachers' unions have enormous influence in elections for school board members and state legislators. And while car and steel factories can go bankrupt — providing a real check on what kinds of demands labor can make — there is not the same constraint in the public sector, because while states can go broke, they can't go out of business. Given this, are any restraints on public-sector collective bargaining appropriate?

7. National union leaders: For more than a decade, teachers'-union leaders and activists have poisoned debate by attacking anyone raising serious questions about teachers' contracts as "anti-union." Now that we're seeing what actual anti-unionism looks like (in progressive touchstone Wisconsin, of all places) is this episode causing you to change your thinking about the urgency of reforming teacher contracts?


School of Thought

The Wisconsin Teachers' Crisis: Who's Really to Blame?

By Andrew J. Rotherham Friday, Feb. 18, 2011


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