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Local views on the Wisconsin siege on public unions

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Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:16 am, Thu Feb 24, 2011.

Lawmakers and protesters have clashed in Wisconsin for the past week over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to eliminate collective bargaining for state workers.

Walker cites the state's deficit as the reason for the change, while Democrats fear the move could end collective bargaining for public unions nationwide.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:36 pm on Fri, Feb 25, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    There are two issues of being forced that bother me. One… the idea that you can opt out is good… but why is it fair that if you opt out, that you cannot get that applied to your salary? In my view, the reason that rule is in place is that if a person who opts out is opting out because they need money, and then the money is not give to them, they are not going to bother to opt out. The union keeps the money that would have gone to the employee.
    Point number 2… Part of the dues can not be opted out. If I am an employee that does not want the union to represent me to negotiate my wages and benefits, I am out of luck. I have no choice. Doug. I have been self employed my whole life. Merit is everything to me and what I earn is all up to me, the service I provide. I like it that way.
    This is a community property state where ½ of my income is my wife’s, and ½ of her income is mine… that’s how it works…. So for 25 years, I was forced to pay union dues for something I did not want. I still do not understand how what I endured was not forced… I guarantee you that if I had had a choice, it would have been different.
    I agree with you… that if you desire to have a union represent you, you have the freedom to make that decision… and… I am thankful that you do have that freedom of choice…but I did not have the freedom that you did.

  • Charles Nelson posted at 12:02 pm on Fri, Feb 25, 2011.

    Charles Nelson Posts: 259

    "The unions are big business, friend, and they're goin out like a dinosaur.'s sundown on the unions, and what's made in the USA. Sure was a good idea, til greed got in the way" -Bob Dylan

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:04 am on Fri, Feb 25, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Darrell, I do agree with you on the political (PAC) union dues monies that are spent for lobbying and campaign contributions. The United Association now has a form that is given to each member to decide whether they want to contribute any of their dues or wages and each individual can decide whether they want to or not. I became very disenfranchised when the UA was spending our dues monies sponsoring a NASCAR racing team. all outraged members spoke up at meetings and 3 years ago the sponsorship was dropped. In the past the union spent our monies on PAC funds whether we liked it or not. The outrage among the members changed this by speaking out, hence the forms specifically stating that each member does or does not want to contribute. I reaally don't see any difference than the chamber of commerce, Associated Building Contractors, Building Industry Assn. of the Delta, etc., donating their members funds to the total of hundreds of millions of dollars to their political favorites. Take Lodi, for example. You always see the local non-unon contractors that belong to the good old boys circuit by relation or family name, such as Diede Const. making large contributions to their favorite 3 amigos who hold the key 3 yes votes to award these locals contracts at lucrative costs after the extras are tallied after the completion of the project. This allows these non-union contractors to throw in a ridiculous lowball bid that will surely insure the contract, and then work with the public works department to squeeze massive extras and cost overruns to their project to assure a nifty profit on the project. Don't you notice the same contractors getting the work most of the time? There's no difference in the unions donating PAC funds or contractors buying favors with large campaign contributions.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:04 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Doug stated…Darrell, first, no one is forced to join a union, both you and i know that…

    Doug, let me explain what I was defining as forced… When my wife began teaching, part of the dues was mandatory to the portion that was allocated for the work the union performed to negotiate salary and benefits. There was no choice, no option. We were told that balance of the union dues that went towards politics for example, could be opted out of. However, the money that was saved by opting out could not be given to her in salary. Instead, she could donate it to preapproved non profits like UOP. I thought that was unfair, so to confirm it was true, I requested documentation. It was sent to me, I read it. I my view, if a teacher must pay dues for the union to negotiate salary and the balance cannot be put in salary, it is not fair.
    Why do you consider this “unforced”?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:53 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    You are welcome Ms Bobin... but I am surprised that it is only through me that your reality is confirmed.... such responsibility you assign me... no problem... Ill take on that monumental task just for your benefit… no need to thank or praise me…but , I hope Jerry fills us in on the mystery... this secret definition of intelligence that he and you keep to yourselves is intriguing.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:20 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Thank you, Mr. Bransom!

    And thank you, Mr. Baumbach. As long as I am not in your graces, I know that I am on the right track.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:47 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    The union construction trades wages are based on an average of months per year that each area and trade are speculated to work each year according to the weather and areas in which they reside that don't accomodate year round work. The average is between 8 and eleven months per year, so the union tradesman journeyman may show a high wage level, but may only work 6 months or more per year.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:54 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jerry Bransom posted at 6:35 pm ...Joanne, you are excluded from my critique. I find it comforting that some people actually have real intelligence... I appreciate your comments.

    Jerry... can you define real intelligence? Just curious since you identified Ms Bobin as the one having it... I could think of 34 other bloggers that i would have identified as an example of that before her... make that 37 bloggers now that I think of it.

  • Jerry Bransom posted at 6:35 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Jerry Bransom Posts: 364

    What an interesting turn of comments. All of which are irrelevant. There is a push in America to put a certain class of high income individuals into absolute power. In order to do that, America must become the new Germany (of WW2). We have to fight among ourselves and find someone to discriminate against so we do not notice the outrageous sums of money taken by Wall Street and the constant attacks on Civil Rights. The money doled out to conservative political contributors generally comes from all of us and funds these unpatriotic attacks on American Ideals. You people really need to read a book once in a while. Joanne, you are excluded from my critique. I find it comforting that some people actually have real intelligence... I appreciate your comments.

  • Tom Carlson posted at 6:10 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Tom Carlson Posts: 69

    Doug, there is nothing unique about your statements. They are flat wrong, but most union sympathizers get it wrong, so you are not unique. I happen to work for a merit shop and I know that our apprentices are in classes, learning their trade, and are paid on the proper scale. And if they don't go to their classess and do their work, I am the person at our company who gets the letter telling me so. And there are consequences for not getting to your classes and getting your work done.

    Union sypathizers like you love to paint with a broad brush every merit shop out there. There are a few bad apples, but I can point out the same thing about unions. Want to talk about mob influences in the unions in the last century?

    And I don't have a thing against union workers. They are just trying to feed their families like the rest of us. But I cannot stand the politics of unions, trying to put themselves out there as some kind of superior product, but really only existing anymore because they pay off politicians to require union workers.

    It is sad that the unions that were so valuable and needed at the turn of the century have become a welfare program. All the good work they did is forgotten, and only the taxpayer welfare debate remains for them.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 3:49 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Scott, the question in "Wincy" as you call it, is not wages or benefits. The state employees, teachers, etc., have already conceded to the cuts governor requested in his budget.

    Along with that he is going after their collective bargaining rights. This has nothing to do with saving money - it is union busting, plain and simple. Governor Walker wants to be the Republican/TEA Party hero by being the first to break the union at the state level. The other governors who had this plan also are mostly running scared after seeing the reaction and protests in Madison and thinking - "Wow, maybe I'm not as brave as I thought I was."

    And as evidenced by the "prank call" Walker received yesterday from the fake David Koch, he is kowtowing to his biggest political contributor so he can continue getting the fat contributions that put him in office in the first place. What a sell-out!!

  • Doug Chaney posted at 2:25 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Carlson, merit shops, i.e. non-union, do not offer many tradesman that have been through a federally approved apprenticeship program that covers a 4-5 year span that teaches every aspect of not only the particular trade, but safety, foremanship, field calculations, job relations and duties, discriminatory practices, communicating in English on jobsites, etc., all done on the apprentice's own time in accredited classrooms. Many prevailing wage projects require any contractor claiming an apprentice worker on a jobsite must prove they are attending an accredited apprenticeship course or the contractor must hire a union apprentice from the nearest union hiring hall to alleviate the practice of cheating non-union contractors from using cheap laborers classified as apprentices or helpers and then pocketing the difference for themselves. Unions are one of the checks and balances in the construction industry to level the playing field on prevailing wage jobs to assure the cheating contractor plays by the rules. Anyone can be a licensed contractor by having someone else take the test for them. Please, Mr. Carlson, tell me what exactly is untrue about any of my statements? I'm waiting to hear just what you deem is inappropriate.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 12:33 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Joanne asks who decideds who goes to college? The overpaid state worker does.

    You're right Joanne, more students with the academic ability should be granted scholarships for college. And I suggest that money come from slashing state employee retirement packages, having employees pay a fair share of their health insurance like those of us in the real world, and by eliminating at least 5% of the CA State work force.

    30 years ago when I went to a CSU school my semester tuition was $190. Now a student cant even go to Delta for that amount... and back then Delta was $10 or $20 per semester.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 12:22 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Some of you are confusing the issue in WI. All the talk of Doug's trade unions or retail unions is nothing like the SEIU's.

    The private sector unions like the UAW, plumbers, etc do, as Kim mentions, produce something. Usually "goods" like the overused widget, lol. They live in the world of supply and demand. If there is no demand (sales) then revenue & profits decrease and cost cutting measures must be made. Rarely does Human Resources not take a hit.

    In Wincy we're talking a whole different animal: the government worker. The produce nothing except the need for higher taxes to support their bloated compensation packages. Kim is 110% right, a generation ago everybody knew that working for the City/County/State/Feds meant that you would be paid less than your peers in the private sector, BUT, you had a great retirement plan and outstanding benefits. Oh, and job security. When was the last time you heard of someone getting fired from one of these kush jobs. NOW these civil servant workers earn far more than their peers, and continue to have the same great benies. Here's the problem: the economy is horrible and revenue (taxes) for the states are down due to no discretionary income, unemployment in the private sector, etc etc.

    Due to the politicians giving away the farm during the economic booms so many city/county/states are now in a financial mess. Something has to give to make these situations workable for the future. Some sort of concessions must be made my Public Employee Unions in regards to their health insurance, retirement plans, and even wages. If everyone will recall, the UAW and I want to say United Airlines, and others, have had make changes to pension packages for retirees & employees. It is not a new concept. Otherwise Wincy and probably California will be filing for bankruptcy.

    Is eliminating the CBA for employee unions the best way? I'm not sure, I'm not a financial guru like some of you seem to be, but I do now SOMETHING DRASTIC must be done quickly.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:04 pm on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I believe your exact statement was: "Does every American young person need to attend college?" And then you changed it to "not cut out for college."

    It is quite evident that not every child in this country attends college for a variety of reasons from personal preference, career choices that do not require post-secondary education, academic ability, and financial ability. But what about those who want to attend college, have the ability to succeed academically, but cannot afford the tuition. Who decides which people get to go to college and which do not?

    I think that this country has progressed beyond the point when only wealthy individuals could attend university. Isn't that all part of the "American dream?" Or does the American dream exist only for those who can afford it?

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:40 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Ms. Parigoris: Do not flatter yourself - I did not attack you personally. I offered an argument contrary to your limited way of thinking - which is not entirely your fault. You have fallen prey to a small minded community that cannot dream beyond its limited borders. And I only know you from the personal information you have voluntarily made available to the public through this newspaper and your political contributions. If you did not want judgments made about your public speech, then I suggest that you not involve yourself in public matters. You cannot have it both ways.

    As for the Communist Manifesto, that argument has been used as an anti-union tactic since the 1800's when workers first began demanding the right to decent working conditions and hours. So far we are still living in a democracy, so I guess that didn't pan out, but it does not surprise me that you brought that up - a standard TEA Party line.

    I am surprised, however, that a TEA Partier such as yourself would suggest that there is no need for unions because there exist "government regulations" that prevent abuses. As I'm sure you know, abolishing government regulations is on the TEA Party agenda. As I'm sure even you can see, the gradual breakdown of workers' rights would lead back to the days of sweat shops and dangerous working conditions. As it is, the majority of the workforce in this country is not aware of what their rights are and abuses by employers occur everyday. In my career I have seen and heard things that would curl your hair - and employers get away with it because people don't know any better. One of the major reasons unions survive is to inform their membership.

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 11:00 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 470

    Ms Bobin, I think that you need to take Bill Clinton's new course in "civil discourse" because i find that you personally attack people on a regular basis. No, I do not think that every child is cut out for college. You act as though you know me personally, know my background, and all my life experiences. And you do not, and I would really appreciate your keeping your personal opinions about people to yourself- this is an avenue for us to air our opinions and to maybe learn something from each other...not attack someone with views other than your own. I highly respect all workers, private and public, especially our people in uniform that are risking their lives every day. Don't twist what I say and make me out to be a mindless ogre. So you know that I did not prepare for my future, or plan for my retirement? You know arrogance is the root of all evil, and you seem to have been dished out more than your fair share. I do not take your comments perosnally- I notice that you do it to anyone that disagrees with you. As far as the unions, I do not like that arrogant approach they are taking, not do I like that fact that my tax dollars are used to donate millions and millions of dollars to their own agenda, that I may not agree with. Is that so wrong?

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 9:30 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 470

    Here's a link from the same website- article titled "Labor leaders say "Wisconsin signals new era of "Labor Militancy" However when you go to read the article there is nothing there..but here is the link to the author of it... funny, he worked on the Obama Biden campaign...what a surprise...It will be interesting to see who floats to the surface as the leaders in Egypt.- the labor union or the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 9:21 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 470

    This whole union thing goes much deeper than meets the eye...Ever heard of 1848 Communist Maifesto written by Karl Marx? "workers of the World Unite!" Think Egypt was just about "people wanting democracy?" Read this article - and it is not found in a right wing Glenn Beck magazine, or on Rush Limbaugh's website. It is from a pro-labor website, and they are not hiding their agenda in the slightest. Let's see how fast those fingers fly across the keyboards calling me a conspiracy nut...

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:20 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Actually, mandatory membership depends upon which union we are talking about. California allows union "security clauses" that dictate membership requirements.

    I am continuously flabergasted at people who make statements such as: "So how do (state workers) end up being better than me, when they aren't even working in an industry that produces anything?"

    No one forced this individual to make the career and job choices that they made, and now that they realize that some jobs have better benefits than others they feel compelled to complain about it.

    Yesterday, this same individual complained about cuts in the Federal budget that will affect student loans and financial aid for the middle class by asking, "Does every American young person need to attend college?" If they want to get into a competitive career that allows them to live comfortably and save for retirement, the answer is "yes." I'm sorry that this person did not plan for the future by getting the appropriate education and planning for retirement.

    Finally, is Ms. Parigoris actually saying that one's work is worthless unless they are "producing something?" From previously published information about this woman, she is not producing anything either. She may work for a company that produces a product, but the services she provides that company do not directly produce anything - that is why cost accounting makes a distinction between direct and indirect labor when figuring the cost of producing products.

    And FYI, Ms. Parigoris, not all government workers sit in an office all day "producing" nothing...think police, firefighters, highway workers, doctors, nurses and on and on.

    Shameful to have such a "powerful" voice in a community with such little knowledge.

  • Tom Carlson posted at 9:19 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Tom Carlson Posts: 69

    Doug, you are way off base.

    Merit shops (non-union) must comply with all the requirements of CA law. They are not unqualified, they just don't have a union. And on any government job, they get paid exactly the same amount as union workers under the Prevailing Wage Laws. The workplace is just as safe as the union workplace (ever heard of OSHA - they make sure the workplace is safe). The only place your agument stands up is in the area of benefits, which is true that union members have, in general, better benefits than non-union shops.

    If you go to work for a union shop, you MUST join the union and pay union dues.

    The rest of your post is just political ranting and does not deserve to be commented on.

  • Jeff Chase posted at 8:45 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Jeff Chase Posts: 12

    It never ceases to amaze.......the dupes in the private sector who are getting their teeth kicked in......lower wages, less benefits, no rights on the job and they just sit back and take it. The folks who strive to lower the standards for all workers to the failed standard of the private sector work force are evil. There is ample proof that unions are needed more than ever. Evidence of what unionized labor accomplishes: higher pay, better benefits, etc. Problem is that our corporate "family" in America does not want to share as much of their wealth with they fund the Republican party in hopes they'll bust unions and toy with the lives of the working class. They won't rest until all workers are treated like Wal Mart "associates" : expendable, paid little, no benefits or paid sick leave, etc. They hate public unions because they remind folks that unions work and they do balance power between workers and owners of capital!!

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 7:22 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2116

    I'm sorry Doug but my personal experiences negate you comments. When I was looking for a job in College a construction opportunity came up through friends of my in-laws. At the interview, which I was the only one who knew the company was looking at this point, I meet all the requirements except one, I refused to join the union. I was told it would mean I didn't get the job, still refused to sign, didn't get the job. Happened at a retail store where I applied for years later as well. They were part of the Retail workers union ( I refused to sign the union card, didn't get the job, despite being told I was the best candidate so far. So yo may be right that you aren't forced to sign the card, but you may not get the job if you don't.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:17 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ms. Parigoris, your quote rather disturbs me. You're asking that the organized and union workers are any better than the common working person? I assumed all were the common working person? Do you advocate for organizations like the chamber of commerce, Associated Building Contractors, Building Industry Assn. of the Delta and cheap labor contractors who would like everyone to work for minimum wage or less without benefits and unsafe working conditions? Would you want a 6 week or 90 day wonder "construction" worker, aka laborer, building this country, or even your home? Please explain the difference between a common and uncommon worker? Workers are working 10 hours or more each day today for 8 hours pay for fear of losing their jobs to someone who will if they refuse themselves, Both common and uncommon workers, by the way, whatever that alludes to. You let your tea party emotions and politics play into this issue rather than looking at both sides of the issue. After all, there are plenty of both eastsiders and westsiders just waiting to take your, or anyone's job, for less pay with more hours at any given moment, even right here in livable, lovable Lodi.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:05 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Darrell, first, no one is forced to join a union, both you and i know that. And no union member is forced to pay "dues". Refusing to pay dues merely negates the benefits that come with union membership such as health care and pension. No one can be dismissed for not paying dues. You know my experience comes from the construction trades unions which operate on an entirely different basis, unlike these money hungry organizations of today with officers and representatives who only care about lining the union coffers and their own pockets and don't give a hoot about the membership as long as everyone is working and paying those almighty dues. The construction trades unions were the backbone of this country providing skilled craftsmen to construct and provide infrastructure for America through the years and setting the wage and safety standards for ALL workers. Unions today represent nothing resembling similar to the purpose of their origins and past years. This present depression has created a battlefield amongst the union and unorganized sectors, fueled by both the progressive and objectionist parties and seems to be about corporate greed than anything else. Your thoughts are always interesting and well thought out.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:48 am on Thu, Feb 24, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Brad Doell, president, Lodi stated…. Basically it's union busting. They're trying to make it difficult for labor organizations to collect union dues.

    Lets see… people are “FORCED” to join a union… “”FORCED” to pay dues for negotiating on their behalf for wages… and Brad concludes the above… My thought is… thank you very much for trying to give people a choice. If you want to join a union and pay dues, people should have the right to do that… but to “FORCE” them to join is rather aggressive and un-American. One should have the ability to say No, I do not want a union to represent me… just as one should have the right to join a iunion, as I am certain Doug would say… I am not union bashing… I am simply being “prochoice”.



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