A Time For Reason
February 14, 2011 11:30 AM
Here's one reliable test of good public policy: you don't have to call out the National Guard when you propose it.
About 700 people packed into the cafeteria of Middleton High School on Sunday evening for a listening session organized by Sen. Jon Erpenbach. For two hours several state legislators and I listened as dozens of public employees, many of them teachers, talked about what Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to end 40 years of collective bargaining meant to them and to their families.
Much of the testimony was passionate, but most of it was respectful. I have no reason to believe that the governor's fear that his proposal would prompt actions requiring a Guard deployment is justified. Nonetheless, workers and their families are justifiably upset that the governor is trying to accomplish through sher force what might otherwise be achieved through negotiations at the bargaining table.
My hope is that cooler heads will prevail. There is simply no reason to radically change the nature of public management and labor relations in five days. How can any conscientious legislator ask all the right questions, gather all the necessary information, hear from their constituents and make an informed judgment on such a profound question in less than a week? They can't. And so the governor's proposal needs to be slowed down, at the very least, if not stopped outright.
And if the Republican majorities decide they just want to roll over voices of reason then I hope the courts will be asked to review their actions.
Negotiating with public employee unions on health insurance and pension copays is not unreasonable. Destroying those unions and upending four decades or more of labor peace goes way beyond any mandate this governor can pretend to have.