The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.This is all well and good, but a column in the WSJ is no match for the TV pictures of union members storming the state capitol building and screaming about their rights. He and the state Republicans will need to be out there making this case over and over on camera and in confrontations at town hall meetings. The unions will keep calling for rallies to give the impression of massive opposition to the Republicans' bill.
Local governments can't pass budgets on a hope and a prayer. Beyond balancing budgets, our reforms give schools—as well as state and local governments—the tools to reward productive workers and improve their operations. Most crucially, our reforms confront the barriers of collective bargaining that currently block innovation and reform.
When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.
The next step, as the Left is planning, is for election battles for the state Supreme Court and the recall measures for those Republicans who voted for this measure. The state Supreme Court is less than a month away and could alter the balance on the court.
Frankly, I'm pessimistic that the Republicans will win either the state Supreme Court battle or the recall election battles. The unions will be able to mobilize and bring out their voters en masse. These will probably be low turnout elections and in such elections the side with more intensity is the one that wins. And these days, it is the unions who are mobilized. They are fighting for their political power and influence. They can dress it all up in pretending that these are "rights." They'll ignore the fact that there are states that don't have collective bargaining for public employees and neither do federal employees and those workers do just fine. All they need is the slogan and the media will aid them.
Governor Walker and the Republicans can talk all they want about the need for limiting union power to elect their bosses who will then turn around and give in to whatever the unions demands no matter how they are creating the destruction of local and the state governments. Their answer is to raise taxes so that non-public workers can pay for those state employees can keep their comfy benefits. Unless those non-public employees get motivated to come out for these elections, the unions will be able to overwhelm turnout.
That is why Governor Walker, as the most prominent spokesman, needs to be out there. Those legislators up for recall need to be out there also. They need to explain that the union solution is to raise everyone's taxes so that there will be more money for public employee workers. The can point out how, in states that elected Democrats, like neighboring Minnesota and Illinois, the solution for deficits is raising taxes. Tell the voters that the choice is between their paying more so that public employees can get better salaries and better benefits than they do. Tell them, as Governor Walker does in his column, that the voters have the opportunity to make sure that the unions don't mandate that, in times of layoffs, the better teacher keeps his or her job, not just the one who has been there longer. Put it in terms that they understand. And one more recommendation for Governor Walker, get more examples than your brother. Every time I see him or read him, he's using his brother as his example. Mix it up a bit.
But the GOP is fighting now to keep their majority. And the union will be able to get their people out there. Notice how they were able to get hundreds of their members out to the state Capitol last night in a short period of time. Imagine what they'll do with time to prepare for these elections. The fight is on.