The Extreme Bill in Wisconsin That Would Put the State's Public Sector Collective Bargaining Rules Roughly In Line With Half the Other States


Last night, Republican senators in Wisconsin broke a weeks-long impasse with Democrats and passed a bill limiting the collective bargaining privileges of public-sector employees. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker. In response, pro-union demonstrators flooded the Capitol and staged what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described as a "wild scene," with large groups attempting to force their way past police officers guarding the area.  Some protesters reportedly ended up entering the Capitol through the windows.

Labor groups and their Democratic allies are painting the bill in nearly apocalyptic terms, arguing that it is an extreme and uniquely restrictive piece of legislation. Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt released a statement saying that "tonight's events have demonstrated they will do or say anything to pass their extreme agenda that attacks Wisconsin's working families." SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said the passage of the bill proves that governor Walker's agenda was "never about balancing the budget—it was always about stripping workers of a voice." Writing at The Huffington Post, former White House labor secretary Robert Reich called the bill's passage a "coup d'etat," and declared that "Walker and his cohorts are extremists willing to go to any lengths for their big-business patrons." 

So how extreme is the bill passed last night? Not very, at least in comparison to other states. Here's Josh Barro of the Manhattan Institute:

Wisconsin's new policies on public-employee relations will not be especially unusual. Only 26 states have laws that grant collective-bargaining privileges to substantially all public employees. Twelve have laws that give collective bargaining to some workers, and twelve have no statewide collective-bargaining law at all, though some municipalities may grant bargaining rights in those states.

What about federal workers? They have comparatively strict limits on collective bargaining privileges too. Here's Barro again:

Federal workers have very limited collective bargaining rights—and Obama has not been shy about exploiting that weakness. He's using the budget process to push a two-year freeze on federal workers' pay, without any buy-in from the unions. If he were governor of Wisconsin, he'd have to get union heads in a room and plead with them to allow the freeze.

So is President Obama also some sort of anti-union extremist, committed to exploiting workers' weaknesses and attacking families and generally being the sort of anti-union thug that so many labor supporters seem intent on portraying Walker as? Somehow I'm guessing the answer is no.

Watch this joint Reason.tv/Heritage Foundation production about the state budget battle showdown:

NEXT: DA Issues Report on the Eurie Stamps Raid: Cop Who Killed Unarmed, 68-Year-Man Tripped, Accidentally Fired His Gun

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There ferocity is easily explained in terms of the Brezhnev Doctrine. Whatever is currently captured territory in the Sphere of Progress cannot under any circumstances be allowed to be turned back by an inch. It’s why once one of their bills is signed into law, we are stuck with it good and hard.

    1. God Hates Homophones!

      1. Look, if two words want to sound alike in the privacy of their own…um, dictionary…then I say it’s none of our business.

        1. I don’t mind what they do in the privacy of their own domiciles, but when they swing their serifs around in my posts, pointing them in all which aways, then I’ve gots me a problem.

      2. Eye don’t sea why ewe wood say something like that.

  2. So the next step is elimination of all the cronies making 6 figures, right?

    1. And you might be surprised how common it really is. Just the other day I stumbled upon the site http://www.canlt.com (sorry, for some reason I can never hyperlink on Reason). It covers only the school districts and municipal water district in my area. Some illuminating bits, there is a Customer Service Manager for the water district making in excess of $100k/annum. The director of communications for the water district makes over $140k/annum. On top of all this, not only do they not have to pay SS taxes, unlike the teachers who at least have to pay their own CALPERS contribution, these water district employees get their CALPERS contribution covered by the taxpayers. Multiply this travesty to the nth degree and you only begin to get a grasp of how deeply embedded our problems truly are.

  3. What, no alt-text on the cow-tipping image?

    1. Union cows in Wisconsin demand less tipping, more tips.

  4. Fuck the SEIU.

  5. So is President Obama also some sort of anti-union extremist, committed to exploiting workers’ weaknesses and attacking families and generally being the sort of anti-union thug that so many labor supporters seem intent on portraying Walker as?

    He’s also the anti-war president.

    1. And pro-civil liberties as well.

  6. The woman in the red hat: “This is about taking away our right to negotiate.”

    Unions take away your right to negotiate, lady. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to negotiate your own compensation, huh? Because you know you would be paid what you’re worth.

    1. I would hand over a testicle for the governor to say, on camera but in a joking manner, that the policy of the state of Wisconsin does not permit him, or any other agents of the government, to negotiate with terrorists.

      1. And then repeat it to Peter King.

        1. Sorry, but it’s a one-nut deal.

  7. I posted this on the morning links, but that thread was dead by the time I did. Check out this charming e-mail that went out to the Republican Legislators.

    Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes
    will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain
    to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it
    will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit
    that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for
    more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

    WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in
    the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me
    have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and the people that
    support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing
    with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand
    for it any longer. So, this is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many
    others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records.
    We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a
    nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn’t leave
    it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the
    message to you since you are so “high” on Koch and have decided that you are
    now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a
    demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed
    in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.
    This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t
    tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are
    not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided
    to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s
    necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making
    them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families
    and themselves then We Will “get rid of” (in which I mean kill) you. Please
    understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked
    everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel
    that it’s worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives
    of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and
    say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!
    Reply Reply to all Forward


    1. The fuckhead is strong in this one.

    2. Boy, those teabaggers are some scary bastards.

      1. He must’ve been inspired by Palin.

    3. “Saving the lives of 300,000”

      is that saved or created?

      1. Apparently the bill went through so quickly that no one noticed the “kill all public employees” provision that some joker put in there.

        1. The guy that did is getting a campaign donation from yours truly.

        2. You see, we have to pass the…..aw, fuck it!!

    4. The good folks at Slate and other places are already screaming false-flag at the top of their little lungs.

      1. They have any evidence?

        1. The rare few cite the governor’s conversation with Fake Koch about false operatives in the union crowd, but most of it “only tea partiers use violence” and KOOOOOCCCCCHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

      2. I’d say “Internet Tough Guy”. The language and rhetoric sounds like the sort of bullshit that the union supporters use, so it smells genuine (in terms of anger).

        1. If it is a troll, it is a good troll.

        2. I’d say “Internet Tough Guy”

          Episiarch? Nah.

          1. Obsess much?


            Why don’t you go hump someone else’s leg for a while. You’re boring me at this point.

            1. You’re boring me at this point.

              But you keep replying. Somebody’s pants are on fire.

    5. I love when “revolutionaries” who have never handled anything bigger than an air rifle get all militant.

      1. I dunno. Union people are the one Democratic constituency that aren’t anti-gun.

    6. This would never have happened if it weren’t for all the violent rhetoric on the left.

    7. Yeah, that’s rich. Even ignoring the threats of violence against whole families, there are some pretty remarkable statements there. Apparently elected legislators voting on a bill=dictatorship and without collective bargaining “rights” it is impossible to feed your family

    1. What arabic does to the data and time info is darn interesting.

      I think the squirrels need to filter better.

      1. The server squirrels can’t handle right-to-left text.

      2. It is freaky.

        1. This time it was just me trying it out. I wonder if it has anything to do with Arabic being read right-to-left (if it actually is)?

  8. Citizens of Wisconsin, be warned! Koch-funded extremists are trying to turn Wisconsin into an uneducated backwater hellhole like Somalia or Virginia.

    1. Stop with the Somalia thing. I gave up booze for Lent (not that I’m actually religious, but being that I was raised Catholic, I’ve always found some value in my 40 day sacrifice of booze which I do every few years, mostly to lose weight).

      1. I have to agree with the value of giving up something (I too am a lapsed Catholic that observes Lent), but booze? Are you crazy?

  9. gov walker has done a great job energizing both the left & the unions heading into the next election cycle.

    1. You’re like the worst troll ever.

    2. Re: OhioOrrin,

      gov walker has done a great job energizing both the left & the unions heading into the next election cycle.

      Just like Reagan did back in 1981 with the Air Traffic Controller strike – like, nobody saw it coming that Walter Mondale would win in 1984 and…

      … but it didn’t happen that way, OO. You’re on drugs.

    3. Holy shit you’re right. I mean how is a Republican supposed to win an election without the support of the left and the unions?

  10. I actually thought the unions and Democrats were going to win this one. It’s an interesting development. Hopefully this will discourage other state legislators from engaging in the bizarre tactic of fleeing their states when they lose elections.

    1. Really? The only downside I can see is that they’ll eventually come back.

  11. Did anyone else notice how “The Koch Brothers” became the Left’s replacement for “Halliburton”?

    1. Haliburton was cooler, like, they had guns n’ shit. Or was that Blackwater?

      1. Palin, Halliburton, Blackwater (“Xe” is cooler), Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Rumsfeld.

        I think there’s an election as to who gets to be the statists’ “Emmanuel Goldstein” for the year.

        1. Blackwater will be replaced by Pinkertons.

          “DAMN KOCHS AND THEIR PINKERTONS!!!!1!!!eleventy!!!!”

        2. Don’t forget about Darth Cheney.

      2. blackwater is that shitwater i used to bike through in the woods as a kid. we would even scream blackwaterrrr as we rode through it. seeing their name in the paper always gets a chuckle.

        1. Smith Mtn Lake? Are people still getting drunk and jumping off the cliffs or have the police stopped that as well?

    2. Of course, the right uses Soros in the same exact role.

      1. Yes, and it’s stupid, which is why Reason has criticized that. But the Left has so many more “respectable” people going around saying that they don’t do those sorts of things that the Tea Partiers do.

        Any sort of protest is going to attract its share of idiots.

      2. I don’t care much about Soros’s Team Blue partisanship, and he’s got more integrity on the Iraq War and the war on drugs than many of the people he funds, but a guy who profits billions off currency speculation, in effect bankrupting governments and causing widespread poverty, should be exactly the kind of person the Left hates. It’s more or less the epitome of the rich profiting off of increasing poverty.

        1. The Left is honest enough to stay bought.

  12. Ironically enough, when you pack up and leave town you don’t get to participate in the process. ROFL

  13. I always liked

    WISCONSIN: Smell the dairy air

  14. The whole thing isn’t really about any collective bargaining “rights” anyway.

    What it’s really about for the Democrat party and the union officials is having the state continue mandatory collection of union dues to keep the cash flowing to both groups.

  15. I feel really disconnected on this one.

    To me, all the stuff coming out of the mouths of teamblue and unions on this one is such obvious horseshit that I have a hard time even getting worked up.

    But I really have no clue how the median voter sees this one.

    1. The median voter on this issue is an inconsistent illogical mess.

      According to multiple polls, the median voter strongly approves of wage freezes and cuts for public employees, and them paying more into their benefits, and supports ripping up contracts to do so.

      However, the median voter strongly disapproves of getting rid of the collective bargaining rights that prevent governors and legislatures from doing that.

      So apparently the median voter really wants the public employees to have these “rights,” they just then want those rights to be completely ignored. Perhaps they don’t understand what the rights entail?

      1. Perhaps? Perhaps? The median voter is clueless.

      2. Let’s not forget that the median voter, wants more spending and handouts for themselves, less spending and handouts for other people, tax cuts, balanced budgets, the government to wave it’s magic wand and fix the economy, etc…

        1. I’m going as fast as I can!!

  16. I’m torn on this one. I hate the public unions, and think they are going to lead the country to ruin. Not just economically, but also by the ever-increasing growth of a government/union/industrial complex.

    On the other hand, I’d like to see a bunch of wackos shooting it out on the streets of Madison. Call me crazy, but I love shootouts.

  17. They overturned 1000 years of collective bargaining!

  18. I am so sick of this shit. I hope that that bill stays passed and all of those spoiled children figure out that they lost and go back to their still well compensated jobs and shut the fuck up.

    1. I was sort of hoping it ended with them all getting fired and replaced with Mexicans.

  19. Here’s three sarcastic signs I’d like to carry amongst the Madison crowd:

    1.) Revolution for the Status Quo!
    2.) Pensions are Civil Rights!
    3.) Who Will Stand Up For My Rights When I Get Caught Sleeping With My Students?

  20. The union workers keep saying it’s not about the budget. If it isn’t going affect how much money they get, why are they so pissed off?

  21. What I want to know is this…

    These Democrats left the state while they were supposed to be at work, effectively going on strike. Did they use their own money for travel expenses? Lodging, transportation, food? Or did they charge this to their campaign or state expenses?

    The motel they were at runs $129 / night. If they were there for 2 weeks, lodging alone runs $1806 per senator plus taxes.

    So, if they did in fact charge this to state or campaign accounts, did they commit a crime?

  22. I only needed to read Heritage Foundation to know what is written will be rightwing drivel.

    1. As opposed to left wing drivel?

  23. June 15, 2011

    I have a suggestion that is politically unpopular, but which will satisfy most of the state. If I were governor, I would cut the budget for Law Enforcement in half, or even more, to 1/3 of what it is now.

    We have too many cops, most of which when actually called upon by the public do little or nothing for us. Instead, they spend taxpayer dollars trying to seek out crimes based on agendas being fed to them by the attorney general’s office and federal authorities.

    I travel through the city of Appleton, Wisconsin, and it seems like Nazi germany there, everytime I walk down the street, I see a cop car. I don’t feel safer, I feel like I am stalked! I feel safer in Chicago.

    We need to realize that with modern technology like cell phones and portable video cameras (not publicly owned surveillance cameras that can be used by law enforcement to fabricate evidence and commit crimes) that people are much safer than they were before.

    Add to that, concealed carry, and we are even more safe. Try to rob a bank, and 3 guys in line pull out a gun. You ain’t got a chance. We need to make sure that are laws allow us to use guns in a safe manner, and for the right purpose. And yes, I mean protecting a person that shoots a bank robber or burglar from lawsuits and prison time.

    I do think that union workers in Wisconsin get too many benefits which other non-public sector workers will never see in their lifetime. I also think that we need to stop “automatic” increases. At the same time, the will of the people, meaning all of you at the capitol and the state unions in general, have a reason to protest. Both Republican and Democrat have violated open meetings laws by engaging in “secret” nightime discussions closed to the public. Some of our public officials decided to not show up for work. To me, this is illegal because it blatently ignores representation of the people, and therefore any laws which they pass should be rejected.

    Other countries have the right to collectively bargain, and the United States should be one of them. However, the “will of the people” also has the right to collectively REJECT the bargaining. In other words, with the existance of collective bargaining, the taxpayers can just say NO to all! Without collective bargaining, the “will of the people” can veto certain parts, and say yes to some and no to others.

    Collective bargaing is all or nothing, where the new system that is being legislated allows the representatives to pick and choose. If it continues the way it is, the taxpayers may just get to the point where entire sectors will get the “nothing” answer. This means loss of union jobs.

    I am not a supporter of busting Unions. But, jobs in the private sector have been lost to China and India because of Union activies. You have to realize that until we reduce the budget in Wisconsin, we will continue to decrease revenue because of job losses to other states and other countries. We can’t increase taxes AT ALL, it will cripple the state economically.

    What we can do is decrease government’s involvement in our daily lives. I would look at the books and see what laws are commonly broken in the state, and eliminate those laws. This doesn’t mean anarchy, it just means that if violating a law doesn’t harm but only the individuals involved, it doesn’t need to be enforced. My priorities for law enforcement would be Identity Theft, Work Exthortion / Employment Fraud, Medical Fraud, Calumny, Sex Extortion (claiming a sex crime to exthort or imprison an individual), and legal protection of personal electronic communications. These are the things that cause the most harm to society and degrade the United States as a world leader. I have been given a tip that many members of law enforcement are being trained to circumvent the constitution, rather than respect and obey the laws of the land. And such activity is a crime against the United States.

    I would support school choice programs as well as alternate means of education, including home schooling and teacher operated computer learning in classroom environments.

    I would also investigate and scrutenize any public official who is using his or her public office for religious, moral, or political agendas. The biggest failure of government is when individuals or groups manipulate the government to stop somebody else from doing something that that individual or group doesn’t like. I see alot of what I call “genecide” occurring in the United States. People are being imprisoned or degraded because of their moral or political beliefs, and the laws are being manipulated.

    We need to have independent, non-corporation based auditors check the numbers for spending in our state. It is not the Union Workers of the State of Wisconsin that waste money, but the huge quantity of “little bit of this, little bit of that” that eats up our budget.

    This is my solution for the State of Wisconsin, and for that matter, the United States of America. Maybe I’ll run for office as an independent someday.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.