February 14, 2011

NY Times: Wisconsin may ax state workers' benefits and their unions

Source: New York Times

From the New York Times:

Wisconsin May Take an Ax to State Workers' Benefits and Their Unions

By MONICA DAVEY and STEVEN GREENHOUSE

Published: February 11, 2011

Citing Wisconsin's gaping budget shortfall for this year and even larger ones expected in the years ahead, Gov. Scott Walker proposed a sweeping plan on Friday to cut benefits for public employees in the state and to take away most of their unions' ability to bargain.

The proposal by Mr. Walker, a Republican who was elected in November after pledging that he would get public workers' compensation "into line" with everyone else's, is expected to receive support next week in the State Legislature, where Republicans also won control of both chambers in the fall.

The prospect left union leaders, state and local employees and some Democrats stunned over the plan's scope and what it might signal for public-sector unions in the state. Union leaders began planning rallies in Madison and contacting lawmakers, pressing them to reject the idea.

An employee responds:

Mike Imbrogno, a cook at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who belongs to a union and said he earns $28,000 a year, described the move as an "attack" on working people.

"He's basically trying to smash the last remaining organized upward pressure on wages and benefits in Wisconsin," Mr. Imbrogno said. Governor Walker's proposal would specifically remove the right of the university's faculty and staff to bargain collectively.

The complete report is available online at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/us/12unions.html .