Dracula's Castle

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, March 10, 2011

Last night, in a bold move, Republicans voted 18-1 to strip collective bargaining rights from many of Wisconsin's public employees (remember that Police and Firefighters were not part of this bill).  Gov. Walker, in addressing this end run, stated:

In order to move the state forward, I applaud the Legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government. The action today will help ensure Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs.

While I am a simple HR professor, I am curious what kind of business climate he has fomented that will not only create 250,000 new jobs, let alone find the bodies to fill them?

1.  He has already rejected $810 million from the Federal Government to support a high speed rail from Milwaukee to Madison, a project that could've created 13,000 jobs
2.  His new budget cuts $834 million from education, a move that will, no doubt, impel many long-time quality educators to take early retirement as well as force schools to layoff or fire many other employees to meet budgets.

So far, I'm seeing jobs being destroyed, not being created.  Leaving the previous points aside, if I am a business looking to relocate, or an investor looking to put my money somewhere:
1.  Is Wisconsin stock now rising?
2. Do I want to put my time, energy, and resources into an economy with an angry electorate?  
3. Will I expect my labor force to be better prepared for the working world when class sizes will continue to grow and quality teachers will inevitably look elsewhere for employment?
4.  Where are the quality employees going to come from, particularly since more and more employers are not even looking at individuals who are unemployed?
5.  Wisconsin has already been experiencing a perceived "brain drain" problem.  Will the current events improve or exacerbate this issue?



From the employee side, what do people look for from a job?  A 2007 survey by the Center for Excellence in State and Local Government Excellence (while somewhat dated, I would expect the results to be similar today) indicated the top 4 items desired:
1.   Health insurance - For public sector employees in Wisconsin, this has certainly gotten weaker.
2.   Having job security - again, the actions of last night have made this weaker
3.  Being in an environment with clear policies and procedures - certainly with collective bargaining rights being stripped, many public employees now have less voice in how those policies will be made.
4.  The retirement plan - again, it has become a less attractive commodity in Wisconsin

If I am an education major, will I want to go work for a Wisconsin school district where budgets are tighter than ever before and I have less rights, less benefits, and have been demonized by my state government?  Who is going to find working for Wisconsin schools suddenly more attractive? If I am looking to relocate my family, will I be looking to move to Wisconsin, in light of recent events?

4 comments

Succinctly stated and, even more important, important questions needing discussion by all citizens of the state. Send this comment to all Wisconsin newspapers.

by Anonymous on March 10, 2011 at 7:56 AM. #

No different than many other states WI, has a money problem - they are spending more than they take in. However it seems that politicians in general tend to cut first where it hurts the most. I am not sure if they are looking for public outcry or are just taking the meat axe to the budget - when in realitiy they need a sharp knife.

Unfortunately it looks like WI is going to be the case study in how to fix, or how not to fix the budget problem. The good news for WI is there ain't nobody running to come to IL - the land of 5% income tax.

by Dave Ryan on March 10, 2011 at 8:06 AM. #

I fail to see how removing collective bargaining rights from public workers helps to create jobs. While I support public employees paying a greater share of their benefits like those in the private sector, I'm not sure that really was the issue at hand. It seems that Gov. Walker is punishing the unions for playing hardball with him.

With that said, I'm also confused as to why the largest workforce segment which is unionized in the US is the government workforce. But then again, I'm not a government employee and I'm not unionized so I may never understand why.

by Anonymous on March 10, 2011 at 8:35 AM. #

Good stuff on the employment side of the equation. My view on unions, particularly public employee unions, is complicated but I think we can all acknowledge the potential for some serious impact.

While a superintendent or employee manager may feel he or she has more flexibility, the truth is the street runs both ways. I'm not a fan of keeping garbage teachers or government employees (I don't know too many who are), but that security was essential in keeping some folks who may make more money in the private sector. Was there a fix there besides dropping most collective bargaining provisions? Sure.

Our country and every state in it are facing financial difficulties. While there may be room to change or rework government employees to be more efficient, everyone knows those aren't the big pieces of the pie. Entitlement spending (and defense spending at the federal level) are the big budget issues and tax revenue is the other side of that.

That's too difficult to tackle seriously so the sides pick their scapegoat. I'm assuming we'll run out of them eventually.

by Lance on March 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM. #

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