If the newly elected Republican Governor of Wisconsin has anything to say about it, the state’s public employees will soon be stripped of their collective bargaining rights. After 50 plus years of protected and pampered status, the public sector workers in Wisconsin may now be facing a future filled with the same financial realities as their private sector brethren.
Governor Scott Walker is aggressively pursuing a change in state law that would remove the right of public employees to negotiate on any issue other than salary. He is also proposing that state workers contribute toward their pension plans and increase their contribution toward the cost of their healthcare benefits.
Walker, who took office in January, has been very public about his desire to seek deep concessions from state workers. He has said state public employees should be forced to pay 5 percent of their salary toward their pension and increase their share of health insurance costs up to 12 percent. Currently, most workers don’t contribute anything to their pensions and pay between 4% and 6% of their health insurance costs. Twin Cities
Needless to say, the state employees’ union is loudly voicing its opposition to the Governor’s plan as are the Democrats in the state’s legislature. But the Dems are basically powerless to stop the bill. Republicans control both the Assembly and the Senate.
I have little sympathy for these spoiled state employees. Most of the workers in the private sector have to save for retirement through defined contribution plans, such as 401ks. Private sector workers have to set aside money for retirement with each and every pay check. And they are expected to take on a bigger share of healthcare costs with each passing year.
Most workers earning their living in the real world of business pay a small fortune each month for medical coverage. Their retirement income must be planned and payed for with their own hard-earned dollars and hopefully with matching contributions from their employers. They also have to hang onto a wish-and-a-prayer that the stock market doesn’t crash right before they’re ready to retire.
The world is full of financial risk. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to offset that risk. But for public employees to think they are a protected class of privileged citizens exempt from the same financial realities that confront the people who foot the bill, is to indulge an arrogantly delusional mindset that has seen its day. America is no longer buying it.