Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wisconsin's new collective bargaining law takes effect - boy does it!

Remember all those cries about how if Scott Walker's proposed collective bargaining law went into effect it would devastate Wisconsin schools? Well, never mind. The results are in for one school district.
s changes to collective bargaining powers for public workers take effect today, the Kaukauna Area School District is poised to swing from a projected $400,000 budget shortfall next year to a $1.5 million surplus due to health care and retirement savings.

The Kaukauna School Board approved changes Monday to its employee handbook that require staff to cover 12.6 percent of their health insurance and to contribute 5.8 percent of their wages to the state’s pension system, in accordance with the new collective bargaining law, commonly known as Act 10.

“These impacts will allow the district to hire additional teachers (and) reduce projected class sizes,” School Board President Todd Arnoldussen wrote in a statement Monday. “In addition, time will be available for staff to identify and support students needing individual assistance through individual and small group experiences.”

The district anticipates that elementary class size projections for next year will shrink from 26 students to 23 students. Class sizes for River View Middle School are expected to fall from 28 students to 26 students.

Kaukauna High School classes could be reduced from 31 students t 25 students.

The new rules and updated operating budget also institute $300,000 in merit pay for staff next year, to be awarded at the school board’s discretion.
Ohhh! Those evil Republicans. Forcing public employees to contribute to their own pensions and health care costs just like private employees do doesn't seem so devastating does it?

(h/t Ann Althouse)


Imhotep said...

The public employees offered repeatedly to endorse the increased donations to their pensions and health care costs if only the Governor backed off restricting their collective bargaining privileges. When asked what the restrictions in bargaining had to do with budget issues, the Governor has no answer.

Teachers who post editorials are supposed to take the time to get their facts straight.

Betsy Newmark said...

Check your premise before you leap to insults. I know that I saw Walker making the explanation in several different interviews at the time. Here he is on MSNBC making the connection.

Here is a more detailed explanation.

Imhotep said...

from your second link:

For example, as a result of collective bargaining, 65 percent of Wisconsin school districts require their teachers to be covered by WEA Trust, a health-insurance company owned by the teachers’ union. Without collective bargaining, those districts can save up to $68 million by taking their health-care business to the open market, according to Walker’s estimate

The saving you describe in your post are from the issues that the teacher's union agreed on with the governor, not the very hypothetical savings proposed by the governor and in the article.

Please be honest - you are crowing over saving that were agreed to by the unions, and the savings that are somehow supposed to be achieved by limiting collective bargaining are argumentative, not actual, and are not connected to what you describe.

Pat Patterson said...

this requirement on using the WEA Trust came about because collective bargaining required teachers to pay into it. but without collective bargaining, that is the district can direct the money to cheaper or more efficient providers if the district desires it. As a result this part of the equation is now the reponsibility of the district and has nothing to do with the union. There was no agreement with the teachers as that part of the benefit package stands alone.

Imhotep said...

And the argument made by the Governor and in the article that the blog owner posted! Are these Republicans making these arguments? The party that repudiates "Big Government"?

It's so confusing, since the actual argument made in the links that Ms. Newmark posted is that the State Executive will be much better able to make decisions without the meddlesome interference of mere employees - surely the Governor knows best! Even if he has yet to actually come up with these private plans that hypothetically will be cheaper.

So in actuality, when push comes to shove, this Republican Governor justifies his actions with a Big Government Knows Best argument.

So, Ms. Newmark - if you were asked if the teachers in your area were better able to make decisions about their health insurance or pension plans or if it should be left to the discretion of the State Executive, what would you answer? Would you want your future to be decided on with your input, or by Big Government alone?

Pat Patterson said...

That is not what Gov Walker argued at any time. He pointed out that now the district will have better control of its finances. It's a mistake to argue that collective bargaining is a state wide issue to only be solved by the state. Rather the law allowed individual districts to escape a state law that gave collective bargaining its power by state law to whipsaw local districts.

There has never been a collective bargaining agreement between the state and the local districts but the local unions had been given this negotiating power by state law. Now they will have to face their local boards and citizens and they obviously don't like that prospect at all.

JackAfter6 said...

The silly argument by Imhotep is that since union members had already agreed to contribute to their own retirement and health insurance it was unnecessary to make a law which curtailed the power of public sector unions.

Of course, this ignores the fact that until now because of unions they've never before contributed. It also ignores the fact that it is unions that got Wisconsin into such bad fiscal shape in the first place. It ignores the fact that with unions left in power, every year the state would face another union led battle over wages and benefits, and more threats of strikes and walkouts. Public Sector Unions collectively bargain AGAINST Americans.

jefscott said...

So many people have been showcasing the example of the Kaukauana school as a clear vindication that ending collective bargaining rights were the right move. Usually this is because these people haven't really thought about the issue hard enough, either because of a lack of desire or ability.

Ending collective bargaining rights is going to have a very complex set of consequences, both beneficial in some cases and detrimental in others. To take a single beneficial consequence over a finite time-span and assume it reflects the overall reality that will play out.... it's a really sloppy way of thinking about a complex issue. Almost always I've found this type of surface level thinking is a vice for people who don't have the facts or ability to really sort through a complex reality.