Governor Walker is beginning to walk back on his refusal to negotiate over his draconian union busting attempts.
New emails and conversations have come to light unveiling the first attempts at compromise from Walker over his stance on collective bargaining…possibly a good first step, but, is it enough?
Protesters have filled the rotunda at the Wisconsin State Capitol and surrounding area for near 3 weeks now. The Democratic State Representatives have been ‘in hiding’ out of state in order to prevent the vote on the atrocious budgeting bill put forth by Governor Walker and State Republicans from reaching quorum. Wisconsin citizens, and supporters from across the nation have been unrelenting in the drumbeat of negative attentions cast upon Walker and his minions.
People from all walks have loudly and clearly voiced their outrage…from the protesters in the balconies of the State capitol building, to the State Democratic leadership, to the random people from across the globe ordering pizzas delivered to those fighting ‘on the ground’.
Their persistence in fighting for the rights of Wisconsin workers appears to be paying off.
According to e-mails released by Walker’s office, he proposed a compromise Sunday night that would allow public workers to bargain over their salaries with no limit – a change from his original plan that banned negotiated salary increases beyond inflation. He further softened his stance by agreeing to let collective bargaining to stay in place on mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size for teachers.
While far from perfect, it is a well defined crack in his previous stubborn stance. His cocksure attitude has proven a turn-off to many…and his ratings have tanked. Not only does Walker now face calls of recall (WI Governors cannot be recalled until after a year in office…but the preliminary efforts are already underway), but several Republican Representatives are seeing active recall efforts in motion.
Methinks the rats are beginning to jump ship and Walker is finding himself in an untenable position (frankly, I think he has always been in one, he is only just figuring it out for himself). I think that the pressures on the State Republicans from their constituents…the looming recall efforts…their continuing nosedive in the polls…all have a bearing on the walk back.
Here is more of what they are ‘offering’ thus far:
Walker also proposed allowing collective bargaining agreements to last up to two years, instead of the one-year limit in his original proposal. Unions would only have to vote to remain in existence every three years, instead of annually as Walker initially proposed.
Additionally, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority employees would not lose all union bargaining rights and the Legislature’s budget committee would have to vote to approve any changes to Medicaid programs sought by Walker’s administration. Under the original bill, the Department of Health Services could make cuts and other changes to programs benefiting the poor, elderly and disabled without requiring a hearing or vote by the legislative committee.
The elimination of automatic union dues withdrawal from public workers’ pay would remain, as Walker originally proposed.
Now, I will confess freely that I do not understand much of what the bill holds…nor do I understand the weight of his concessions. My guess is…it is not enough. However, my experience with negotiations is that once a stalemate is broken, it is easier to pull more concessions from the party that blinked.
There is still much to be talked about…this is just the beginning I am sure…but, it is absolutely a step forward. A welcome victory to those who have been standing in protest day in and day out for weeks now.
It is heartening to me to see that fighting peacefully for what is right and good can still have an effect. I hope that politicians coast to coast have taken note…the people still can, and WILL, stand up…we are not ALL sheeple yet.
Congratulations to the protesters, Democratic Representatives, and Wisconsin workers…hopefully the first small victory of many to come in the greater battle.
Keep fighting the good fight.