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  • Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Your Chanting Has Got To Go

    Posted by Dan from Madison on February 13th, 2011 (All posts by )

    I have been writing about how Scott Walker has come in to the governorhsip of Wisconsin and immediately started to kick ass and take names. More, if you are interested, below the fold.

    The predictable response has begun from the AFL-CIO and AFSCME as well as others.

    There were about a hundred people or so at the governor’s mansion today and a small rally at the capitol building as well. I have heard that people will be bussed into Madison for some more rallies as well later this week.

    Well, I don’t see what this activity will do. The Governor is a Republican, as are the House and Senate by wide margins. The people of the state of Wisconsin booted the previous majorities out in a BIG way last fall. Its over.

    From the article:

    Others plan to march to the house of Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and rally in Horicon at noon Sunday at 204 West Lake Street.

    Have fun with marching to the Assembly Speakers house. And why a rally in Horicon? That is a tiny town about 45 minutes or so northeast of Madison.

    Two more rallies are scheduled to take place in Madison on the Capitol steps on Tuesday and Wednesday. Buses will be provided across the state to transport people to Madison for state employee rallies.

    I wonder who is paying for the buses. I bet I can guess. Go ahead. Rally all you want. Its over.

    Walker’s bill would strip state and local government employees, including teachers, custodians and game wardens, of their ability to collectively bargain everything except their wages. But the measure carves out a special exemption for local police officers, firefighters and the State Patrol.

    Critics say the move amounts to political payback for unions that support Walker and could create a schism between government workers. Walker counters that the state has had a long tradition of protecting local safety services.

    Perhaps this is Walker’s way of splitting the public service unions, which could be a genius move. The firefighters and cops supported Walker in his election campaign, so he does owe them one. Of course, he needs to address their pensions and pay someday, but he can’t get it all at once. Actually splitting the public employee unions probably does the most damage to them as a whole at this point rather than going after all of them at once. It is a big elephant, and must be eaten only one bite at a time. I imagine the AFSCME workers and others are pissed off that they are going to get ZERO support in this from the cops and firefighters.

    Interesting times, to say the least here in Wisconsin. I am finally seeing the sun rise. It is a long fight, but the first salvo has been fired. Walker is like an immense battleship in this, and the opposition is like a tiny destroyer so far.

    My friends on facebook, especially the ones in Madison, are losing their minds. I am having a great chuckle over this. I may never forget Walker’s quote from a few days ago:

    “I don’t have anything to negotiate,” (emphasis mine – Dan) Walker said. “We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years. People have ignored that for years, and it’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth. The truth is: We don’t have money to offer. We don’t have finances to offer. This is what we have to offer.”

    As an aside, I can’t believe I saw a guy on the news chanting “hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker’s budget repair bill has got to go”. No rhyme, no rhythm. PLEASE come up with snappier chants than that.

     

    11 Responses to “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Your Chanting Has Got To Go”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      Rally, chant, meditate, drop acid, hallucinate, wave signs, wish it was different, imagine there’s no Heaven, pretend the old nonsense still works and that arithmetic is suspended, that gravity is optional, and that the people of Wisconsin were actually kidding on election day.

      As someone once said, hey, we won.

    2. Dan from Madison Says:

      “…that arithmetic is suspended…” – totally.

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      Police and fire are core services of the government and ones that it is very difficult for the free-market to provide (especially police.) Moreover, these are emergency services and ones in which even a short disruption of service could cost lives. It would make sense that if you have to prioritize disruptions from spending cuts that you would start with non-essential or less-essential personnel.

      I think in many places, perhaps all, all public workers try to ride on the coat tails of police and firemen. Voters value the service of police and fire more and they respect those who put their lives on the line. Other public workers try to parasitize that respect for their own ends. Severing the two is good move both morally and practically.

    4. Cheesehead Says:

      It is starting to get quite annoying how detached from reality these state employees are. Yes, I agree, it sucks that they would have to contribute more for their healthcare and pension. But what they don’t understand is that everyone is paying more than they are for healthcare…everyone. Tough decisions are being made every year during open enrollment for benefits, as employees anxiously await the impending increase of premiums or the decrease in coverage. And pensions? Guaranteed retirement dollars? Who has that?? So when you are hitting the golf course when you turn 50 and I work until I’m 75, funding your lifestyle by the way, I am supposed to feel sorry for you now because you have to contribute more towards it? What planet are you people living on? And it is appalling that so many people fall for this sob story…teachers are underpaid & they have the most important job in the universe. Trust me, a lot of people think they are underpaid and that they have an important job. Give me a break.

    5. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Um, Dan From Madison, not long ago you posted here about summarily firing an employee, not if I recall because that person wasn’t doing their job or was not treating customers right, but because that person was insubordinate to you as a small business owner.

      No, a person working for you or a person working for the people of Wisconsin does not deserve their job by way of entitlement or pity. On the other hand, most people derive their very livelihood from their job. Firing someone, laying a person off, cutting their pay, or even witholding pay raises to keep up with the cost of living, however, is a serious matter.

      Your post on Chicago Boyz about firing that worker was in part you sharing with us about the tough decisions a business person has to make. There was a certain tinge, however, of seeking some manner of validation or support from the readership for what you had to do. A number of people, if I recall, really layed in to you about this matter. If I also recall correctly, I believe that I came to your defense with respect to some nasty, nasty snark directed at you in the comments.

      With respect to what Governor Walker is proposing to do, my suggestion is to cut the snark and the gloating about the various categories of state workers getting their comeuppance. These are tough economic times, the Governor and the Legislature have to take some actions that are unpopular with government workers in State and local government, but we don’t have to take a triumphal attitude about it. “We won” was singularly unbecoming of a President who was going to ignore the opposition party in putting a sweeping agenda into law, and that attitude does not become our side either.

      Why not gloat, why not cheer, why not snark about finally standing up to the unions and the state workers?

      Why stop at only an 8 percent across-the-board pay cut (yes, transfering payment of benefits is a pay cut when salaries are fixed)? The 8 percent is perhaps just the opening round as it addresses only the immediate shortfall and not the longer term. Why not cut pay, say, 50 percent? Given the absense of other jobs, you could probably get away with it.

      I guess the answer to my question is that one needs to maintain friendly relations at some level with the people who work for you, and the same goes for the people you work for. To the extent that there is an immediate crisis, I think you can get people to accept some sacrifice and still be friendly and productive on the job. But the more short term sacrifice you impose, perhaps the greater the expectation of being made whole when times are better as well.

      I agree with “Lexington Green” that this chanting, rallying, and general hate being ginned up in Madison towards the Governor is childish and counter-productive. What are we going to have, Egypt on the Yahara River or some such thing? But the counter-chanting, snarking, and yes, hate directed at State workers who are still processing all of this is also counter-productive. Yes, there is waste in state government but there are also many essential and productive services from state government, and one still needs to win the hearts of minds of one’s employees to have effective state government.

    6. Dan from Madison Says:

      Wow Paul, you have a better memory than me, I wrote that post back on Sept. 22.

      That post was not meant to try to solicit validation of any sort. I had already made the decision to fire the individual, the deed was done. I moved forward. That post was meant to initiate a discussion about pride in general, and how it seems (to me anyway) that a lot more people in general have a lot of it. The discussion went a different way than I wanted it to, but that is the internet for you and I don’t have a problem with it.

      As for being a bit snarky about the state workers, I am definitely guilty of that. But finally, (finally!) someone (Walker) is saying what needs to be said. The State is broke. We all have to tighten our belts. The people threw out the old. It is time for the new.

      An aside: If state workers think they are so underpaid and so valuable, they are free at any time to pursue careers in the private sector. One of my “talking points” is that if a state worker feels underpaid for their labor, why on earth are they still working for the state? Pensions. Health care. A zillion paid holidays. etc. etc. Its over.

    7. Cheesehead Says:

      I guess the problem is the sense of entitlement that the most vocal part of this group of state employees has. Not all do, but that is predominantly what I’m hearing. They seem to be living in the Twilight Zone. Should we be sensitive to their situation? Yes, that is the right thing to do. But I don’t hear them giving two rips about these same decisions that occur all the time in the private sector. And we shouldn’t cheer about reducing the power of a union that doesn’t care at all about taxpayers but instead focuses on the perpetuation of their own power?

    8. Lexington Green Says:

      If something can’t go on it won’t.

      People with private businesses (ahem, small law firms, for example) are seeing clients and customers tightening the screws and the pain is spreading all through the economy. These people do not chant, march, wave signs, act entitled or tell people that they have some kind of human right to the income they used to have. They are scrambling for business, and looking at ways to slash their spending, or move to cheaper housing, or get by with one car, and feeling the crush inside their chest when they have to cut someone’s hours or lay someone off, and when they listen to their wives and children who are sad that they cannot do the things they used to do. Tens of millions of families are living through this. We have about 10% unemployment and about 10% more underemployment. We are seeing, and personally experiencing, lots and lots of real suffering, without any of the benefits these government employees have long enjoyed.

      Sympathetic treatment for impacted state workers would be easier to justify if the state workers who are getting hurt recognized that they are the most insulated and least victimized people in our economy, and they have had it very good for a long time in exchange for what they do all day. Instead they just make demands.

      The mismatch between their attitude and the reality they are now facing is sad but also almost funny.

    9. Cheesehead Says:

      Lexington Green: all of what you said I was trying to say, only you said it better. That is 100% correct.

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      Paul Milenkovic,

      Why not cut pay, say, 50 percent? Given the absense of other jobs, you could probably get away with it.

      Given the general tone of your comment, I can say that it is highly unlikely that you’ve ever had to hire and fire people.

      Really deep across the board pay cuts are not practical because not all employees, even ones with the same job description, are of equal value. Everybody in business knows this. Praeto’s rule usually comes into play i.e. in any given unit, 20% of employees do 80% of the truly critical work. Every unit has go-to-people who are the ones who get things done.

      Now, while the bottom 80% of your workforce might not have much better opportunities when faced with a pay cut, the top 20% usually does. If you cut your pay to deeply across the board, the skilled 20% will find other jobs sticking you with the underperforming 80%. Instead, what you really want to do is trim off you bottom 20% and use those saving to boost the pay of the top 20%.

      That is hard to do with civil service because the primary directive for civil service employment practices is not efficiency but to prevent political interference in hiring and firing. The easiest way to do that is to simply use seniority as grounds for advancement and choosing who to lay off. Since there maybe no correlation between competence and seniority, managers have to protect everyone against layoffs in order to keep their high performers.

      The basic problem with government workers is that they have a completely different work culture than the private sector which leads to a different sense of entitlement. Private workers believe they are entitled to jobs and certain levels of compensation because of the skills they bring to the job. Government workers believe they are entitled because they have “served” a long time, i.e. they have seniority. Most government workers believe they have actually personally sacrificed for the greater good of the community and that therefore they deserve to be treated differently than private workers.

      As a result of this sense of entitlement, government to experience genuine moral outrage when they face pay and job cuts.

    11. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      “Why not cut pay, say, 50 percent? Given the absense of other jobs, you could probably get away with it.

      Given the general tone of your comment, I can say that it is highly unlikely that you’ve ever had to hire and fire people. ”

      I believe that if you review my post, I was presenting the 50 percent pay cut as a straw-man argument as I was hinting that if the cuts were deep enough, you would indeed lose your 20% top performers and keep the 80% who were less-capable, although I did not frame it that succinctly.