Matthew Preston | February 17, 2011
Let me start by saying I am not much of a political person, nor have I been outspoken about topics in the past. However, I feel that I cannot and should not keep quiet right now with what's happening in my home state. Let me also be upfront as well, I am a state union employee.

Our newly elected governor, Scott Walker, is shotgunning a budget bill for the state of WI. It includes increases in health insurance premiums, increases in pension contributions, as well as removing the right to collectively bargain and collect union dues for state employees. Let me break this down for you, to help in understanding my point of view.

Increase of health insurance premiums to 12%: Not a problem for me. The health benefits we get are ridiculously plush and I feel spoiled to have them. Personally, this means an increase of $130/month to continue the benefit of superb health care, something many Americans struggle very hard to obtain. I am more than willing to pony up the extra cash when my state is in need.

Increase of pension contributions to 5.8%: Again, not a problem for me. Since the beginning of my employment with the state, they have been contributing approximately 11% of my salary towards pension. I think it's time I start helping out. (Side note: the contribution is post-tax, meaning that money will be subject to double taxation, but that's for another discussion).

Here is when things get problematic for me:

Removal of collective bargaining rights for state employees (police/fire unions excluded)
Making it illegal for union dues to be collected via work:

This feels... Un-American to me. To clarify, the budget plan eliminates all union's rights to bargain over anything except wages, which is capped at the consumer price index unless otherwise voted on. This means all state employees now become at-will employees and there is nothing stopping the governor from eliminating or changing all other benefits or jobs.

Something that doesn't seem to be understood is that it's never been about wages for WI workers. I am paid approximately 21% less than what I could be making in the private market. What offsets this are the benefits as well as job security. There are very specific bylaws in place to curtail mass layoffs and most importantly, to ensure worker safety.

But I'm straying a bit from the most important issue here, the removal of the rights of the people. Collective bargaining was created to ensure a fair and safe work environment. If this plan passes, simple negotiation talks would be wiped out and rule would be determined by one person. This feels like a dictatorship to me. All the workers of WI want is the right to talk things out. Prior to Walker's incumbency, my union conceited to $100 million in cuts through a collectively bargained budget plan. Walker urged the senate not to pass it until he had a chance to take office, and it worked. He is completely unwilling to negotiate even though it is clear that we will are willing to concede to financial adjustments.

Take my money to help the state, just don't take my rights!


Matthew Preston | February 17, 2011
If interested, you can follow the story here. The people (and some senators) are standing up for their rights!

Dave Stoppenhagen | February 18, 2011
Good luck man. My union is weak and only protects the people who don't work.

Scott Hardie | February 20, 2011
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated against this bill. Tens of thousands. Does that not give the legislators pause? Regardless of political stripe, if I were in office to serve the public, and tens of thousands of my constituents had gathered at the capitol to protest angrily at my proposal, I'd have to wonder who I was really serving. I know that's a shallow observation, but I have yet to see it addressed.

Tony Peters | February 20, 2011
the conservatives in this country have become so unforgiving that they will cut off their own face. its not about doing things for their constituants its about
being against anything and everything that the other guy is for
regardless if its something you once stood for or something that will be good for your constituants

Matthew Preston | February 20, 2011
Hmmmm... something about the story you linked to Tony is eerily familiar to me.

Tony Peters | February 20, 2011
exactly it doesn't matter that it would make jobs or that it good for the constituants its the other guy's idea so its bad. they are so busy holding onto the old that they can't look to the future

Amy Austin | February 22, 2011
I was thinking about bring up the same issue... didn't want to detract from WI situation. Funny that it's not just a Florida thing, though.

Steve West | February 22, 2011
This is making the national news. Several states are awaiting the outcome of all this.

Tony Peters | February 22, 2011
it will be very interesting to see what happens now that the Union has taken everything off the table except collective bargaining. Is it about the money or is it ideological????? I'm betting the Governor still thinks he can break the union. At this point I think that would be a HUGE mistake

Matthew Preston | February 22, 2011
Something to lift spirits perhaps (it lifted mine). Jon Stewart had a bit on the Daily Show about this.

Scott Hardie | February 24, 2011
I'm loving this.

Steve West | February 24, 2011
A simple solution..

Matthew Preston | February 27, 2011
The masses are growing.

Steve West | February 27, 2011
"My Goodness, Smithers. Let loose the hounds!" - Gov. Scott Walker

Scott Hardie | March 3, 2011
From a friend:

A union employee, a Tea Party member, and a corporate CEO are sitting at a table.

In the middle is a plate with a dozen cookies on it.

The CEO reaches out and takes 11 of the cookies, then says to the Tea Party member, "Look out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

Samir Mehta | March 3, 2011
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Matthew Preston | March 10, 2011
Finally, at least something is happening. Definitely not the outcome I wanted, but the stress of all this is extremely overwhelming.

Right now, I'm ashamed to be a WI state employee. I'm ashamed of all of my senators and representatives. I'm ashamed that this whole situation gives transparency to what really goes on with politics. I feel sick to have witnessed all the whining, bemoaning, and backstabbing these politicians go through to get what they want, not what the people want. Both sides say they are fighting for the people, but it really comes down to what benefits them the most (usually money or future political gain). The system is severely flawed and I'm ashamed for believing in it, even briefly.

It seems like this would be an ending point, but the worst is yet to come I'm sure. I just want to go into work everyday and not have this huge looming cloud of uncertainty over my head. I think that's what we all want from our job, but it's a shame so few of us have it.

Scott Hardie | March 11, 2011
Amen. I'm taking a break from following politics for a while. It's often disgusting, but this is a rare level of stomach-churning.

Lori Lancaster | March 11, 2011
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Jackie Mason | March 12, 2011
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Matthew Preston | June 5, 2012
Wisconsin gets a chance today to recall Walker. I'm not overly confident it will happen as Walker has a big conservative following in most counties outside of Dane and Milwaukee. Regardless of the outcome, I'm certain this is far from over. It's depressing watching the bitter divide this state has and knowing all eyes are on us as a representation of the divide the country has. I'm still trying to avoid the rhetoric, but I'll at least do my civic duty and vote today.

Tony Peters | June 5, 2012
The thing I find interesting is that with the Divide both parties are actually shrinking. Nationwide 24% Identify as GOP and 32% as Dem with the rest mostly (38%) identifying strongly as Independent....I've been independent since the mid 90's Newt and crew threw my professional and personal life into turmoil playing chicken with Clinton and I have never really forgiven the GOP.

Scott Hardie | June 6, 2012
It's all still disgusting. Walker's policies that inspired the recall, what both candidates have said about each other, the amount of money poured into this race from the outside... Ugh. What a mess, and what a waste of money and effort. Think of how much Wisconsin could benefit if it were put to good use instead of politics.

Tony Peters | June 6, 2012
have you seen the money numbers??? outside the state GOP money is equal to the Total Democratic party and friends spent...and Walker spent nearly double what everyone else has....if he wins it will be the money not the man

Matthew Preston | June 6, 2012
I agree with both of you. I've often thought of the idea of a spending cap for political races, but I don't think it would go over too well. Something to even the playing field, so people actually vote for the best man for the job, not the flashiest with the deepest pockets. Like Scott said, the amount of money spent on political races in this country could be put to a much better use. Ugh, getting that sick feeling again.

On a lighter note, this guy spent $200,000 of his own money to run as an independent and managed to get on the ballot. And that included a local WI commercial during the Super Bowl! He doesn't stand a chance, but I admire his convictions. And seriously, he does seem like the best man for the job at this point, because he's actually willing to compromise and doesn't follow party lines blindly.

Matthew Preston | June 6, 2012
The numbers are coming in if anyone is interested. I hoping for just 1 of the 4 state senators also being recalled to be upset.

Wow, CNN called that quickly. There are still voters in line and Scott Walker has been declared the winner.

Samir Mehta | June 6, 2012
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Tony Peters | June 6, 2012
you would think they would have learned from Florida....that said I'm kinda actually happy it failed, government worked. I think the most important thing to learn is that a political axe to grind is not enough of a reason to recall a governor (or any elected official).

Samir Mehta | June 6, 2012
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Tony Peters | June 6, 2012
Gubernatorial Recalls have only happened a few times before and usually for misconduct or Malfeasance, Lynn Frazier was purely political and probably led to a number of states requiring some sort of criminal behavior as justification for Recall, Gray Davis was incompetent. Evan Mecham was convicted of obstruction of justice at his impeachment before his Recall but it is likely he woud have been recalled.

your comment about Voter Turnout is a good one, many countries have required voting (Australia for instance). The big argument that they have more parties and such a policy wouldn't change matters here I think is a red herring. More people participating will mean that extremist views won't have ground to become fertile and most importantly more people will be expecting those elected to serve actually accomplish something

Matthew Preston | June 6, 2012
If it makes any difference in your conversation, it has long been rumored that Walker is the target of a secret "John Doe Investigation" by the Milwaukee D.A. If that turns out to be the case, it's unfortunate the recall came before a potential indictment.

It's taken months to get any information, so don't be surprised if there seems to be a lack of info in the article. Suffice to say, 13 of Walker's former/current associates have struck immunity deals with the D.A. for future or recorded testimony.

Tony Peters | June 7, 2012
Final numbers from the Wisconsin recall election

The Walker campaign spent $23.98 a vote
unaffiliated Republicans spent $11.99

The Barret campaign spent $3.44 a vote
unaffiliated Demoocrats spent $11.19 a vote

that a pretty drastic difference Barnett was out buying 40's of malt liquor for his peeps while Walker was out buying 12packs of Dogfishhead IPA for his.

I know who I would vote for if given those choices

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