Saturday over 100,000 people protested in Wisconsin over the slip in the night move by Governor Walker and State Republicans to strip public unions of their collective bargaining rights.
Why would this be a controversy at all? Why would so many Americans demand public workers be stripped of their ability to negotiate a middle class living instead of refocusing their anger on the multinational corporations, banks bleeding the country dry?
We've seen over and over a battle of Worker vs. Worker instead of Worker vs. Wall Street. Why would the country be split on unions? Why the vitriol towards organized labor?
Literally the battle in Wisconsin is pulling families apart:
The fifth round of the fight Kathy and Stephen Scaffidi have been having for weeks started Tuesday evening in this Milwaukee suburb when Chris Larson's name came up.
Mr. Larson isn't an old boyfriend or a drinking buddy, but the couple's state senator. Three weeks ago, he and 13 other Democratic senators fled to Illinois in an effort to prevent Republicans from passing a bill pushed by Gov. Scott Walker to curtail collective-bargaining rights for public union employees.
Ms. Scaffidi, a schoolteacher, considers Mr. Larson a hero. Her husband, a manager at a media-rating company, thinks the senator is a coward.
Mr. Goetsch-Arnold said she recently de-friended about 30 Facebook friends because of their views of the Wisconsin situation.
In the newsroom of Third Coast Digest, a Milwaukee website about local arts, culture and politics, arguments between liberals and conservatives have grown so heated that the advertising director sent the publisher an email saying he didn't think he could come to work because he was so angry.
Why the hatred against your neighbor, your teachers, cops, firefighters, your fellow workers? Below are some possibilities.
Unions support illegal workers
There is no doubt the insanity of supporting unlimited migration and encouraging more illegal workers by unions has come home to roost. Illegal immigration represses wages and there are some occupational sectors which have been harmed, such as dock workers, agriculture, retail food service, construction, landscaping and even electrical contractors. This is why IBEW is against illegal immigration and yes this is a union. That said, some of the positions of some unions, most notably the SEIU have enraged many an American worker, who view unions working against American labor, not for it, as a result.
Since the U.S. middle class has been decimated, most people have no retirement at all beyond social security which is under attack. Most people only have $190 a month to retire on. So, is this a situation to drag down all workers to be in the same boat?
There is plenty of evidence to support this view of since I am broke, you should be too mentality.
Why the rage at one's fellow workers is odd, it should be outrage at offshore outsourcing, globalization and robbing the private sector employee blind by multinationals looking to increase their quarterly profit balance sheets.
Educational System as a Bureaucracy
Many are disgusted with the K-12 educational system and continually blame the workers. Yet it is politics and administrators, not the teachers and school principals who can make the large 6 figures. Add to that a host of rules, redistricting, certifications and brew ha ha, plus no vouchers for choice, it's understandable why the rage. Yet teachers are really the cog in the wheel on why the public educational system is so dysfunctional and not teaching the kids. Case in point, did you know teachers are being displaced by foreign guest workers?
Economist Dean Baker has been busy correcting some of the fiction being cast on public pensions:
It's so fashionable these days to beat up on public sector pensions that the rules of arithmetic no longer appear to pose a binding constraint. The New York Times concluded an article complaining about the cost of state pension with a quote from Sylvestor Scheiber, one of the pension analysts advocating cuts in public pensions:
"By the time the typical private-sector worker has retired, the teachers, the highway patrolmen and these folks have already gotten $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 in pensions.”
The comment refers to the fact that many state workers can receive full pension benefits while still in their 50s. The immediate point of reference is Wisconsin, where it tell us that police and firefighters can retire at age 53 if they have 25 years of service, while other workers can retire at age 57 if they have 30 years of service.
The article does not tell us what percent of state employees actually retire at these ages. It is likely that most state employees don't have 30 years of service by the time they reach age 57, so they would have to work longer to receive their full pension benefit. However, even if we do assume that an employee other than a police officer or a firefighter (i.e. the "teachers and these folks") retires at a relatively early age, they will not get the $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 in pension benefits that Mr. Scheiber touts.
According to the article, the average pension for public employees in Wisconsin is $26,000. (Many public employees do not get Social Security, so their pension is likely to be the vast majority of their retirement income.) Most workers start taking their Social Security benefits before they reach age 63, which creates a gap of less than 6 years between the lowest age at which most Wisconsin public employees can draw their benefits and the age at which most private sector workers have retired.
If we multiple 6 times the average annual pension of $26,000 we get $156,000, as the amount of benefits that public sector workers can receive before private sector workers typically retire. This is considerably less than the $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 numbers tossed out by Mr. Scheiber. And this would only apply to a worker who had 30 years of employment with the state by the time they reached age 57. A worker that first started working for the government at age 30 would have to wait until age 60 to retire with a full pension in Wisconsin, giving them less than three years of additional benefits.
David Kay Johnston also ran the numbers on pensions:
Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.
How can that be? Because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.
Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system (or as the argument goes, "pay their fair share" of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin' s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.
The labor agreements show that the pension plan money is part of the total negotiated compensation. The key phrase, in those agreements I read (emphasis added), is: "The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee." This shows that this is just divvying up the total compensation package, so much for cash wages, so much for paid vacations, so much for retirement, etc.
Big Money Propaganda & Corruption
Finally there are large corporate interests with deep pockets out to attack all workers. Most recently it is the Koch Brothers:
Among the thousands of demonstrators who jammed the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds this weekend was a well-financed advocate from Washington who was there to voice praise for cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights.
The visitor, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, told a large group of counterprotesters who had gathered Saturday at one edge of what otherwise was a mostly union crowd that the cuts were not only necessary, but they also represented the start of a much-needed nationwide move to slash public-sector union benefits.
“We are going to bring fiscal sanity back to this great nation,” he said.
What Mr. Phillips did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group, whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch.
There are many organizations funded by groups like the Koch Brothers, cranking out white papers, buying paid Journalists, news outlets, your Congressional and State representatives, all pushing for the wholesale destruction of the U.S. middle class.
Your job is to separate truth from fiction, all with a critical eye questioning why the American worker is plain under attack in their own country.