Iowa’s Government Employees Being Disrespected? Hardly

More than 500 union members rallied outside the Iowa State Capitol yesterday.  They gathered to show unity for their counterparts in Wisconsin who took to the streets and the statehouse in opposition to legislation that would make Wisconsin a “right-to-work” state.  If the law is passed, workers in Wisconsin could opt out of paying union dues even if their place if work is unionized.

Twenty-two states already have a right-to-work law on the books.  Iowa is one of those states, and it has been that way for more than 63 years.   It’s hard to believe that hundreds of people came to capitol because they oppose a law that says you cannot force someone to join a labor union as a condition of their employment.

One would think that freedom-loving Iowans would be taking to the streets for the opposite reason.  The idea that someone can be forced to join or financially support a union, as a condition of their employment is about as un-American as you can get.  However, I’ll freely admit that it’s difficult for me to understand the current agenda of the big labor unions.

After standing in the middle of the rally for over an hour yesterday, I couldn’t help but sense that these people believe that their government totally disrespects them and is unappreciative of the service that they provide.  While there is no doubt that the labor unions use this kind of rhetoric to motivate their members, public sector employees are far from being disrespected or unappreciated by state and local government.

A study done by the Public Interest Institute in 2009 shows that the average wage paid to state government employees was $51,688, while the average pay for private sector employees was $35,256.  The disparity between the two is even greater when benefits are added into the equation.

The Public Interest Institute has also done a study that takes into account wages plus benefits.  Those results showed that state government employees were compensated on average at the rate of $39.60 per every hour worked, while private sector employees were compensated $29.37 on average for every hour worked.

Do those numbers indicate that state employees are being disrespected?  Is asking these workers to make a contribution for their healthcare benefits out of line?  Of course not.   The proposals floating around the state capitol are reasonable.  If contributing a small amount for their healthcare benefits is going to thrust these employees into financial hardship maybe they should reconsider paying their union dues and use that money to pay for their healthcare costs.

 

 

It was also interesting to observe the dynamic between some of the union members and members of the tea party movement.  As one of the tea party activists was speaking at the tea party rally, a union member, who was making his way to the union rally, thought it was appropriate to hurl some insults towards the gathering.  This individual was so focused on what he was shouting he missed a step and fell on the stairs, much to the delight of many tea partiers.  Embarrassed, the man got up and flipped the tea party gathering the bird.

While incidents like that are bound to happen, what surprised me was how obsessed the union members were over the rather small contingent of tea party activists who were gathered a half-block away.  At one point in the rally, I overheard one union member say to another that he would like to “shoot them.”  The “them” he was referring to was the tea party members. Realizing that he said this in earshot of the media, he laughed and said that he didn’t really mean what he had just said.

While the tea party rally was dwarfed in comparison to the union rally, it was a success for the mere fact that it provided balance to the reporting of the union rally.  It also provided a chance for Republican lawmakers to discuss the labor issues that are currently in front of the legislature.

Representative Tom Shaw and Representative Dwayne Alons briefly addressed the tea party gathering.  Other lawmakers like Rep. Kim Pearson and Rep. Jason Schultz also made their way outside to show their appreciation of the tea party event.

The union turnout at the capitol was impressive, but it was aided by the fact that a number of union members were transported to the rally by tour busses and offered a free lunch.  To say that the union rally was organic would be a huge stretch.

While the debate captured the attention of the media for a day, the debate about the collective bargaining agreement that Governor Culver accepted as he was in the final days of his term is at the crux on this debate.

It is almost impossible for the state of Iowa to get its fiscal house in order if state employees refuse to make any concessions.  Asking them to pay as little as $50 a month for their healthcare benefits should not be seen as an insult or an assault on the middle class, but a necessary and appropriate adjustment with which private sector employees have had to deal for years.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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0 thoughts on “Iowa’s Government Employees Being Disrespected? Hardly

  1. All states should be right to work states. No one should ever be forced to join a union or pay union dues if they do not want to. However, everyone should also be able to join a union if they want to and unions, both private and public, should be able to collectively negotiate all employment terms, especially wages and benefits.

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  2. Thank you for the knowledge TIR. Walker is some scumbag up there. Who would stay in a Union that can’t negotiate for them, and here we’ll also give you the choice to refuse membership in the Union that can’t do anything for you anyway. And this schmuck is a tea party hero? Right-to-work is a good thing, it should be the law in every state. Walker taints the concept, putting politics over prinicple. And I thought tea partiers wanted to get rid of corrupt politicians like this.

    I’d say freezing the budgets of Iowa schools for two years is a pretty disrespectful statement to teachers.

    I would also point out the disparity between public and private compensation has a lot to do with education level. The general level of education among public workers is much higher than private workers. Higher education generally equates to higher pay, many more higher-educated people work in the public sector, the disparity among higher-educated people is even more pronounced between public and private. This severely warps the numbers presented in the article. Just trying to add some context to what seems like a huge disparity from what is presented in the article. You’d have to compare like-jobs in private vs. public to get an accurate picture of any disparity.

    I would also point out, teachers in Iowa do pay a lot more than $50 a month for health insurance coverage. From my experience, Iowa teachers have decent health benefits. Better than some private companies and not as good as some private companies. Lets be clear, Walker is not asking for $50 a month in health benefit contributions from employees, he is trying to destroy their power to negotiate for any benefits. Iowa is not Wisconisn, so lets not confuse the two with semantics.

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  3. I like how Craig continues to use the salary figures that have been repeatedly discredited. If the facts don’t match your argument, you can always change the facts, right?

    http://iowaindependent.com/52641/spokesman-justifies-branstads-double-dip-with-discredited-figure

    The Public interest Institute study “distorted the true picture of private versus public sector salaries because it did not have controls or allow for education level or employment status (full- or part-time).”

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  4. robpo wrote:

    “Walker is some scumbag up there . . . . Right-to-work is a good thing, it should be the law in every state . . . . Walker is not asking for $50 a month in health benefit contributions from employees, he is trying to destroy their power to negotiate for any benefits.”

    Robpo, you continue unabated in your idiotic libtard fashion to show how ignorant you are. Wisconsin is NOT a right-to-work state . . . and that is fundamental to what Walker is trying to change. You can’t have it both ways: either right-to-work is good or it isn’t. And these puktard Wisconsin state employees, primarily “teachers” (nice example for our children by the way) with their total lack of professionalism, calling in sick illegally, and the infantile screaming at their rallies, demonstrates they are worthy of no respect.

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  5. tnelson wrote:

    “I like how Craig continues to use the salary figures that have been repeatedly discredited. If the facts don’t match your argument, you can always change the facts, right?”

    Yeah! . . .and you can go over to the lefty loonies at “Iowa Independent” if you REALLY want totally twisted and discredited statistics! . .

    Oh . . . excuse me . . . that is what you did!

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  6. Real_Republican Fool Wrote

    Yeah! . . .and you can go over to the lefty loonies at “Iowa Independent” if you REALLY want totally twisted and discredited statistics! . .

    Is the Iowa Independent your source for news?

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  7. > However, everyone should also be able to join a union if they want to and unions, both private and public, should be able to collectively negotiate all employment terms, especially wages and benefits.

    I disagree that public and private unions should be able to negotiate on all terms. Only private unions should be able to do this. Since the government is non-profit, their ability to pay comes from taxation. Government should allow, like the private sector, the free market to determine wages and benefits.

    Private sector unions have to deal with whether or not their company can sustain the cost of their employees…public sector unions don’t need to concern themselves with this, and they don’t.

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  8. > The general level of education among public workers is much higher than private workers.

    Do you have evidence for this claim? I’m not refuting it, but I need a little more than your word on this one.

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  9. iowaidiot wrote:

    “Is the Iowa Independent your source for news?”

    Naw “double-i” . . . when I want to read the “libtard stupid news,” I just come to TIR and read your posts . . .

    Like

  10. robpo> are you a public employee? If so, you just blew a huge hole in your theory that public employees are more educated than the private sector.

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  11. Private sector unions have to deal with whether or not their company can sustain the cost of their employees…public sector unions don’t need to concern themselves with this, and they don’t.

    Public sector unions are having to deal with the sustainability of the cost of their wages and benefits all the time. When the government starts cutting spending who is the first ones to loose their jobs, public sector employees who are often union members. It’s no different than what the private sector unions go through. The unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana have all agreed to accept the cuts in wages and benefits that they are being asked to shoulder in order to help their states balance their budgets. The removal of the ability for unions to negotiate their employment terms is an unnecessary step that will have no effect on the budgets.

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  12. Anyone remember HF 2645? That was the bill the Iowa democrats approved which would have given even greater powers to government unions. That bill proved that government unions want total control over government and the private sector. It was so dangerous and so irresponsible–passed by democrats in the wake of a serious, deep recession–that even governor Culver veoted it. Craig; can you print the Culver veto transcript of HF 2645? It’s historic and proved to be the watershed moment in government union greed and arrogance. They proved they can’t be trusted and they seek more power and more money, even if it means the financial destruction of Iowa and Iowa families.

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  13. The tea party, conservatives and republicans need to get busy fast on internet communications. I heard the Iowa
    Republican Party and Branstad have good websites with useful info. More needs to be done quickly.

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  14. The Iowa Independent is an excellent news outlet. If Iowa had prizes for internet journalism, Lynda Waddington would have won a Pulitzer for her coverage of Postville.

    Someone above quoted a story from the Independent because you would never see such a story at this cheap labor website. Go read it yourself and see if it’s believable.

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  15. Of course it stands to reason that public employees get paid more than private sector workers. If you average all the state veterinarians and state inspectors and state attorneys and accountants, you will get a higher number than if you average all the hamburger flippers, nursing assistants and store clerks that dominate the private sector.

    But if you compare govt accountants with private accountants, you know damn well who gets paid more.

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  16. > The removal of the ability for unions to negotiate their employment terms is an unnecessary step that will have no effect on the budgets.

    It absolutely *will* have an effect on budgets. Does 10 more vacation days a year affect a budget? Yes, because your employees are getting paid for 10 days of no productivity. That costs real dollars in terms of output. Same goes for increasing health care coverage, adoption benefits, vision plans, increases in overtime hours, etc.

    But my point is that public sector unions are bargaining with elected officials whose primary incentive is to be re-elected, not to make wise economic decision in anything but the short term. Then they can spin it in the news as how they “care” about workers at the economic expense of the vast majority of non-government union taxpayers that actually foot the bill.

    Ford and GM both negotiate with the UAW. They also compete on price (as well as features) in the market for their vehicles. Their vehicle sales affect what they can guarantee and pay their highly skilled employees that are in the UAW. Ford/GM management has a *legal* obligation to maximize their shareholder’s stock value. This means there is an incentive on both sides of the negotiating table to maximize profits.

    The State of Iowa has no competition. And the people in govt negotiating the contracts only have their own incentives to be re-elected. If it’s a democrat, you know the money will rain on the unions because of all the money unions send to their election campaigns.

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  17. “If it’s a democrat, you know the money will rain on the unions because of all the money unions send to their election campaigns.”

    Which we all know comes from the taxpayers in the first place. Taxpayers are financing our own economic demise.

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  18. Deace I think you listened to Rush a little to long yesterday. If I work for the state and make $50000.00 a year and I pay my union $100.00 a month to represent me.

    Please tell me how the money I paid out of my pocket to represent me when it comes to negations with my salary comes from the taxpayer?

    The unions are there to protect all of us. Without unions we would be making $3.00 a hour and have zero benefits.

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  19. If public officials can’t negotiate wisely because they are concerned about their near term re-election, how is that different from corporate officials who are concerned about their quarterly profits? That is even more short term.

    Where can we get these extra ten days of vacation, Bob? Would that make us equal to the rest of the world, or would we need an extra 15 days to catch up with Europe?

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  20. > If public officials can’t negotiate wisely because they are concerned about their near term re-election, how is that different from corporate officials who are concerned about their quarterly profits? That is even more short term.

    Because the private sector has a profit motive where the government does not. Private corporations and private unions must work together to meet the company’s legal obligation to do what’s in the shareholders best interest.

    Corporations can, and often are, sued by their shareholders when they don’t work to maximize shareholder value.

    Taxpayers can’t sue the government for not maximizing value. They can vote…which is why public unions support democrats so heavily with their dues money….so they get re-elected to give more taxpayer money to them.

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  21. > The unions are there to protect all of us. Without unions we would be making $3.00 a hour and have zero benefits.

    NOT TRUE. Competition and free markets actually encourage salaries to be set at what consumers think they should be. You know why private health care exists? Because private corporations offered it as an incentive to attract and keep employees. It wasn’t due to a government decree.

    If what you say were true, everyone in the private sector would earn the minimum wage and have no benefits. They obviously don’t.

    Even a salaried customer service rep for any insurance company in Des Moines will, AT MINIMUM, earn 25k up front, but get health care for them and their families. Placing their total compensation at many thousands of dollars more.

    If there were a union of customer service reps that forced salaries to increase by 20%, do you think companies would magically just pay it? Or would they reduce their workforce by, say 20%? How is that good for “all of us”?

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  22. > Where can we get these extra ten days of vacation, Bob? Would that make us equal to the rest of the world, or would we need an extra 15 days to catch up with Europe?

    We will be equal with Europe when we reduce salaries by 30% and increase vacation days by the same measure. No thanks.

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  23. Bob and Deace why do illegal aliens get jobs in the United States?v They get those jobs because of crooked business owners trying to save a few dollars from not paying benefits and not collecting the taxes we pay everyday. Get a clue the people that want to bust up the unions are big business. Keep supporting the party that wants to take everything away from you.

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  24. In the 20’s and 30’s Unions did a lot of good in helping improve wages, benefits, workplace safety, and ending child labor. Things that 100 years of free market capitalism could never get rid of on their own because there was simply no profit in it. If you want an example of how free market employment worked out prior to unions look at the Railroad companies of the 1880’s and 90’s, or the steal mills of the 1910’s to 20’s.

    However by the 50’s and 60’s Unions had begun to outlive their usefulness and had started to become a drain on the economy by demanding more and more wages and benefits. In the 80’s in the UK for example, Coal Unions had driven up wages and benefits to a point where the cost of mining outweighed what could be earned by selling the coal.

    Things like employer provided health insurance exist because they were things that were first demanded by the unions. When non-union companies started loosing employees to union shops or there were threats that their work force would unionize they to started offering those sorts of benefits. Eventually it started to become a common employment benefit. Frankly I believe that employer provided health insurance is part of the problem of our health care industry because it hides the true cost of insurance from employees and makes them take it for granted.

    Even today, a few years ago the production floor employees started move toward unionizing because there were constant safety issues, as well as employee intimidation by management among other things. The unionization effort, which was eventually defeated, forced management to seriously address the problems and we are a far stronger company today.

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  25. > Bob and Deace why do illegal aliens get jobs in the United States?v They get those jobs because of crooked business owners trying to save a few dollars from not paying benefits and not collecting the taxes we pay everyday.

    Unions would not help illegal immigrants get more pay. Doing so would be illegal, and it requires lots of paperwork that they don’t have. Also, Unions hate this idea of free trade and increased immigration because they know the free market will flood the market with willing workers and therefore lower wages.

    However, while free trade will naturally lower wages from the current state of protectionist trading that we have, it *will* put more people to work. That’s the same trade-off the private sector deals with.

    I will never support protectionist policies for any group, even my own industry. People talk about manufacturing jobs being “lost”. They aren’t lost, they are given to someone that doesn’t currently have a job, and is willing to do it for less money for the opportunity to have a job at all. This is a good thing. India is a perfect example of how it can turn an impoverished nation into an emerging leader.

    You also assumed I am against immigration. In fact, I believe in free trade and markets, and I think we *should* allow many, many more immigrants into this country. Let’s get them paying taxes and be legal.

    > Keep supporting the party that wants to take everything away from you.

    I’ve never been in a union and my field doesn’t lend itself to possible unionization. I lose nothing from this. In fact, I only gain from increasing competition in the public sector. This idea isn’t untested, it plays out every day in every non-government controlled business…which is nearly all of them.

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  26. Let me be clear on this point, I am not against all unions, just public sector unions. Private unions do serve a place, so long as you have the right to not join.

    My entire point is that when there is no profit motive, cost control disappears. That’s why I cannot support public unions and I think they harm taxpayers.

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  27. I’m afraid to speak out about corrupt, overpaid, lazy government unions. There are so many government union slugs, they have money and power and will boycott my business, therefore I have nothing to say. My freedom of speech has been taken away. I hope others on this site who don’t own businesses will speak out for me. Government unions do more than just boycott your business, they seek retribution against your property and your school children and they defame you; i.e. write letters to the editors calling me a wingnut psycho, Christian extremist, nazi, etc., etc. I am very afraid of them, as are the other merchants. Years ago, business owners (employers) were community leaders who donated great amounts of money and time to civic improvements. Now we are considered evil white trash.

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  28. > My freedom of speech has been taken away.

    No it hasn’t.

    There are people in this world that really don’t have freedom of speech. You just don’t want the economic consequences of speaking your mind and having a group of individuals legally and peacefully boycott your business.

    This is not a loss of freedom of speech. And keeping quiet is typically a wise move if you are trying to sell something to these people and you need them more than they need you.

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  29. Mainstreet Merchant it sounds like you live in Germany in the 30s. You are only holding yourself back from speaking out. If these people are as bad as you claim they are, why would you want to do business with them. I owned a number of retail stores in my life. I could have a conversation with anyone. No subject was off limits. I always ended a heated discussion with “Thank God we live in the United Stated where we can agree to disagree.

    Years ago, business owners (employers) were community leaders who donated great amounts of money and time to civic improvements. Now we are considered evil white trash.

    Small town Iowa is still where most communities leaders are retail store owners.

    It may be time for you to move to a different town if your that afraid.

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  30. Bob you are correct Unions will not help illegal aliens get higher pay. Unions will do just the opposite. Unions will keep illegals from getting those jobs.

    I am all for legal immigrants living and working in this country. My biggest issue is the employers that hire illegal immigrants. We could solve our employment problems and reduce the deficit if we would do something about crooked employers.

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  31. As Bob pointed out Mainstreet, your right to free speech hasn’t been taken away. Your just feeling the effects of a free market society that has just as much right to use your political stance as a part of their decision as to whether to do business with you or not as anything else.

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  32. iowaresident, why is it then that almost every union favors amnesty for illegals? Isn’t it because they see more money in their union coffers by organizing illegals? There was a time when unions stood for American labor. That time has come and gone. Because of declining union membership in the private sector, unions are desperate to add ANYONE to the rolls. And to answer your other ridiculous statement about the money you make as a state employee “coming out of your pocket” to pay for union dues. The money “in your pocket” was first taken from the taxpayers who pay your wages. Therefore, the money going to your union is actually “coming out of the pocket” of the taxpayer. Do you have a job in the private sector that you use to pay your union dues? If not, you and your union must first leach off of the taxpayers. It’s really not all that difficult to comprehend.

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  33. The essence of the conversation proves one very important point: while one is free to say almost anything in the USA one is not free of anything but government imposed restraint as a consequence of that speech.

    That’s a distinction libs never seem to comprehend. They somehow assume that they can say anything, no matter how offensive or injurious or outright false without any consequence and then express outrage if we are so indecorous as to even call ’em out on blatant factual lies. Or, put another way, this is America, you can say or dress or accessorize in virtually any way you want; and I have the right to laugh at you.

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  34. Irtman I am for legal immigration. The same process my process my Great Great Great Grandparents went threw. If a illegal immigrant become legal. They will get higher wages benefits and they will pay employee taxes.

    I do not work for a union. If I was a state employee and I was paid with paid with tax payers money. Why would or my employer be able to tell me where to spend my salary at? I can spend on union dues, my family, or in a bar. You have no write to know where I spend my salary?

    Are you employed? Do you have to tell your boss where you spend your salary?

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  35. WHY would any union worker WANT to pay union dues. They’re only enriching the already rich union bosses. Union bosses are simply using those who pay the dues.

    You need to go to bed earlier. You post is so full of errors, it is barely readable. Perhaps you’re a victim of government education. You are proof that teachers are overpaid.

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  36. ir> I didn’t ask you your opinion on illegals. I asked you why most unions favor amnesty. Do you honestly believe the union boss cares more about an illegal paying taxes and becoming a citizen or paying union dues? As for my employment, I spend my money however I wish, but I don’t first pay a union to fleece the taxpayers for the money in my pocket. Especially a government union that has zero “invested” in the “company” they work for. And you just hit the nail on the head. Government unions and their elected minions don’t allow your employer “the people of the state” to decide how their employee is going to be paid etc. When public unions “collectively bargain” who are they bargaining with. Usually with Democrats who were bought and paid for with public money. My money. And the cycle continues until you run out of other peoples money. See Wisconsin, California, etc. etc.

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  37. Irtman once a employee is paid Govermentor Private sector. That money belongs to the employee. No one can tell him how they spend there money. If those choose to support a union its not your concern. Unions represent 1000s of individuals which makes there baraging power greater for the employee. It also saves time for the employer. Instead of negotiating with 1000s of individals at seperate times they only have to do negotiations with one person. The union representative.

    Unions are for amnesty is a pretty simple concept. If a company pays a illegal a cash salary it hurts all of us. If you want a list I will gladly provide a detailed list for you.

    As far as Wisconsin, California, ect. ect. go the unions are no the ones that caused the finicial problems. The finacial problems for the entire country started with Bush and his open check book, It time we all pay the for the mistakes of both Bushes and Obama.
    The teachers union in Wisconsin is willing to work with the govenor, the govenor is the Wisconsins worst enemy. (why try to break up the union when they are willing to work work out a deal with the govenor) The budget needs to be cut and balanced.

    California’s biggest problem is the illegal immigrants. When companys can hire a illiegal immigrant and pay them a third of what they would pay a citizen without worrying about being fined. The only person this helps is the crooked bussines owner more money. I am
    all for profit if its legal profit. Fine the bussines owners for every illegal imigant the employee would go along way to solving our countrys problems.

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  38. Speaking of pay for Union members vs private sector employees, the New York Times ran an article yesterday discussing this. It’s well worth a read and shows that it isn’t so cut and dry as public vs private.

    “In Battle Over State Payrolls, Data Show a Mixed Picture”

    Here are a few choice bits from the article:

    “The clearest pattern to emerge is an educational divide: workers without college degrees tend to do better on state payrolls, while workers with college degrees tend to do worse. ”

    “When workers are divided into two groups — those with bachelor’s degrees and higher and those without — a very different pattern emerges. State workers with college degrees earn less, often substantially less, than private sector workers with the same education in all but three states — Montana, Nevada and Wyoming.”

    “Less educated workers on state payrolls, however, tend to do better than their counterparts in the private sector. The median wages of state workers without bachelor’s degrees are higher than those in the private sector in 30 states. California, New York, Connecticut and Nevada lead the way, each paying workers without degrees at least 25 percent more than the private sector pays those workers. “

    Like

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