March 16, 2011- Imagine the outrage if government workers did not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits. Consider the massive protests that would be staged by labor leaders all across the country.
Think I’m talking about Wisconsin? No, I’m talking about the federal government.
Contrary to what the Obama administration would lead you to believe, most employees of the federal government do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits. That means the budget reform plan we signed into law in Wisconsin on Friday is more generous than what President Obama offers federal employees.
Our reform plan calls for a 5.8 percent pension contribution from government workers, including myself, and a 12.6 percent health insurance premium payment. Both are well below what middle-class, private-sector workers pay. Federal workers, however, pay an average of 28 percent of health insurance costs.
It’s enough to make you wonder why there are no protesters circling the White House.
My brother is a banquet manager and occasional bartender at a hotel. He pays nearly $800 a month for his family’s health insurance and can put away only a little bit toward his 401(k). He would love the plan I’m offering to public employees.
As my brother recognizes, our plan is a good deal for government workers when compared with what other middle-class workers are paying for benefits. It would be a great deal for federal workers.
Nearly every state in the country is facing a large budget deficit, just like the federal government. Many states are cutting billions of dollars in funding for schools and local governments, resulting in massive layoffs or massive property tax increases — or both.
In Wisconsin, we are choosing a different way. The Wisconsin way allows local governments to balance the budget through reasonable benefit contributions. These reasonable contributions will save local governments almost $1.5 billion.
The financial savings in our budget reforms will protect 1,500 jobs this fiscal year and 10,000 jobs over the next two years. The savings come from giving state and local governments the tools to manage benefit costs through collective bargaining reform.