February 22, 2011

WWRD(What Would Reagan Do) about Wisconsin?

We will get to that, but first some background on what has happened in Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed rolling back state workers’ benefits and their right to collective bargaining to help bridge Wisconsin’s budget deficits. But Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have fled the state, leaving that chamber short of a quorum, and the state Capitol in Madison has become the site of protests against Walker’s plans. Over 40% of Madison WI public school teachers staged a “Sick Out” day in protest. 

State law prohibits public school teachers from striking. So did Wednesday's "sick-out" by Madison School District teachers constitute an illegal strike?

No, said John Matthews, Madison Teachers Inc. executive director, who called the event "a political action," not a strike.

"They're not protesting against their employers," he said. "The employer had nothing to do with this. This is trying to save public education in Wisconsin."

Madison school officials didn't respond immediately Wednesday to requests for comment.

Peter Davis, legal counsel with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which administers the state's collective bargaining laws, declined to say whether the action — in which 40 percent of the Madison union's 2,600 members called in sick as of late Tuesday — amounted to a strike since his organization could be called on to make that judgment in any complaint against MTI.

But in general, Davis said, a strike includes any concerted work stoppage by municipal employees, any concerted interruption of operation of services, or any concerted refusal to work or perform normal duties for the purpose of enforcing demands on a municipal employer.


So the head of the bloodsucking union says it is not a strike But the law would seem to suggest differently.  Well as I have always said History has the answers:

On August 3, 1981 nearly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job, hoping to disrupt the nation's transportation system to the extent that the federal government would accede to its demands for higher wages, a shorter work week, and better retirement benefits.  At a press conference in the White House Rose Garden that same day, President Reagan responded with a stern ultimatum: The strikers were to return to work within 48 hours or face termination.  As federal employees the controllers were violating the no-strike clause of their employment contracts.  In 1955 Congress had made such strikes a crime punishable by a fine or one year of incarceration -- a law upheld by the Supreme Court in 1971.  Nevertheless, 22 unauthorized strikes had occurred in recent years -- by postal workers, Government Printing Office and Library of Congress employees, and by air traffic controllers who staged "sick-outs" in 1969 and 1970.

Negotiations between PATCO and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began in February 1981.  PATCO president Robert Poli demanded an across-the-board wage increase of $10,000/yr for controllers whose pay ranged from $20,462 to $49,229; the reduction of a five-day, 40-hour work week to a four-day, 32-hour work week; and full retirement after 20 years service -- a package with a $770 million price tag. The FAA began work on a contingency plan that would go into effect if a strike occurred.

There wasn't much support for the PATCO strikers.  The public sided with the government and exhibited little sympathy for individuals whose earnings were already well above the national average.   PATCO leaders were hauled off to jail for ignoring court injunctions against a strike.  The Justice Department proceeded with indictments against 75 controllers.  Federal judges levied fines amounting to $1 million a day against the union while the strike lasted. Over 11,000 strikers received their pink slips, while 1,200 went back to work within a week's time.  Morale among the strikers was shaky. "I thought Reagan was bluffing," lamented one controller.  In October the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified PATCO.

According to journalist Haynes Johnson, the decisive manner in which Reagan handled the PATCO strike convinced many Americans that he was "the kind of leader the country longed for and thought it had lost: a strong president" -- in sharp contrast to the widely-held view that Reagan's predecessor, Jimmy Carter, had been too indecisive.  Reagan stressed that he derived no satisfaction from sacking the controllers.  He pointed out that he was the first president to be a lifetime member of the AFL-CIO.  And he was aware that PATCO had been one of the few unions to support his presidential bid.  "I supported unions and the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively," he wrote in his memoirs, " but no president could tolerate an illegal strike by Federal employees."


I think Walker is doing the right thing, and likely not being tough enough.  I am not a lawyer, but what about passing a temporary executive order allowing vouchers so parents could send their children to private schools?  Take the money from the school system and let the parents use it to educate their kids elsewhere. 

This has nothing to do with “Saving Public Education”  this is simple union thuggery.  As for the lawmakers who refuse to return, subpoena’s should be issued and they should be forcibly brought back to the capitol.  Not sure about Wisconsin but that is legal at the federal level.


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