Spurred on by Connor’s lengthy response to my post on Wisconsin unions (I was waiting for someone to take the bait), I will wade into this issue, rather than sweeping it under the rug. While I don’t see American class warfare a problem of the same magnitude as poverty, war, corruption or crime, I’ll grant that it’s an interesting question, to which there are better and worse answers. I have an opinion on the NFL labor dispute, so I well ought have an opinion on the situation in Wisconsin, which is admittedly a more important issue.
But I confess, I lack crucial knowledge! For all the reporting on protests, I don’t understand key details regarding the issues at stake. I get that the bill limits unions ability to collectively bargain, but I don’t understand what that means. Particularly, what is the current (pre-legislation) basis of collective bargaining? When public-sector unions collectively bargain, who do they bargain with, and what leverage does each side have? Are public-sector unions able to strike if the other side doesn’t meet their demands? Who is the other side, the governor? Other elected or appointed figures?
By my cursory reading of the bill, public-sector employees would still be able to organize themselves to negotiate for higher salaries and benefits, but they’d need to negotiate with the state legislature–who can enact laws that increase salaries and benefits. It doesn’t seem like a particularly harsh blow against anyone’s rights to force unions to negotiate with representatives of the people who write their members’ checks. What am I missing here?