Wisconsin Workers and Enviros Everywhere Face Same Enemy
March 11, 2011- Among other truths made completely clear by the showdown in Wisconsin: the outsized role of the Koch brothers in American politics.
(Photo by Steve Rhodes.)
Charles and David, the third and fourth richest men in America, first gained notoriety in the fall, when a remarkable expose by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker showed how they'd funded not only the Tea Party but also the hydra-headed campaign to undermine the science of global warming, all in the service of even more profit for their oil and gas business.
March 11, 2011- For one thing, the attack on worker's rights in Wisconsin matters for environmentalists because it matters for everyone. A war on workers is a war on all of us.
Across the country, many of us are public workers or have family or friends that are. We also depend on public school teachers and every other public worker to maintain the daily business of our cities. A country that can no longer protect, let alone respect, the people who teach our children, repair our roads, maintain our sanitation and care for our sick, threatens the well being of all average people. When governments eagerly go after their own public workers, we have to ask ourselves what else they are willing to compromise.
On another level, if you're concerned about the environment you should care about what's happening in Wisconsin because the same people, the same corporate interests that have orchestrated this attack on workers are also lobbying to slash funding for the EPA, working to destroy any notion of climate legislation and securing massive handouts for big polluters.
This week the battle of Wisconsin reached a new level of drama, state Senate Republicans pushed through a bill stripping public employee unions of collective bargaining rights. The Republicans acted while Senate Democrats were still out of the state. The uproar of this legislative fight continues.
But lost in the heated rhetoric over the maneuver was a simple question: In Wisconsin, and other states, is it fair to say that wages and benefits earned by unionized public employees are a major contributor to state budget crises?
March 11, 2011- The ongoing conflict between public unions and state governments in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio revolves around a central question: Are public unions in part responsible for states’ budget problems? This week, Need to Know explores the facts to provide an answer.
Also: A growing number of people in the medical community are questioning how blood transfusions are used in the United States. They are concluding that, for many patients, the risks can outweigh the benefits. We take a look at the practice of blood transfusions and some alternatives that have been developed to avoid the potential risks that transfusions may pose.
And: Editorial illustrator Steve Brodner conducts an “illustrated interview” with author Eduardo Porter about income inequality in America.
The episode airs Friday, March 11 — check your local listings for details.
March 11, 2011- A big thank-you to xoff at UppityWisconsin for this find. Remember that power plant provision? It wasn't in the document passed by the Senate on Wednesday. But guess what! It was changed before the Assembly vote on Thursday to include it.
Thursday, the fiscal bureau was forced to correct its memo describing the bill, after unearthing some more buried treasure. Seems there were a few things the original memo forgot to mention:
There are two items in the LFB's March 10 document that are not reflected in the March 9 document.
1. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Earned Income Tax Credit (page 3, #1).
2. The March 10 document includes a provision of the substitute amendment on the Sale and Contractual Operation of State-Owned Power Plants (page 20, #1)
March 11, 2011- The term "collective bargaining" has been somewhat ubiquitous lately, as legislators in several states have moved to limit union rights . But while collective bargaining lies at the very heart of what unions do, how it works — especially in the public sector — is not always so straightforward.
What is "collective bargaining"?
Simply put, "collective bargaining" is the process through which employees band together to form a union and negotiate a contract with their boss that lays out certain employment conditions, including things like salaries, benefits, vacation time, work hours, safety conditions and grievance procedures.
Is collective bargaining a "right"?
March 11, 2011- Shortly before signing the controversial bill that ends collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker appeared on Morning Joe today to lambaste the pernicious influence of “union bosses” and “outside money” on the debate in Wisconsin.
It’s reasonable to expect national union leaders to be interested in “the largest assault on collective bargaining in recent memory.” Moreover, it is highly ironic for Walker to complain of supposedly shady outside interests.
Over two weeks after receiving a request from One Wisconsin Now, Walker’s administration has refused to release details of its contacts with lobbyists from Koch Industries, run by billionaire arch-conservatives Charles and David Koch. The group requested “all email and written communications between Koch Industries’ lead Wisconsin lobbyist and the office of Gov. Scott Walker and the Department of Administration,” but has not yet received the information.