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ERIC Number: EJ918239
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar-2
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Money, Policy Tangled in Wisconsin Labor Feud
Cavanagh, Sean
Education Week, v30 n22 p1, 22-23 Mar 2011
Gov. Scott Walker's sweeping proposal to scale back collective bargaining rights for most public employees in Wisconsin has sparked a rancorous standoff with teachers across the state--and fueled speculation about whether similar plans will gain traction in other parts of the country. But as massive demonstrations played out in Madison--an estimated 70,000 protesters came to the state Capitol one day last week--local school leaders were questioning one of the arguments behind the governor's proposal: that it will help cash-strapped districts financially in the years ahead. And while some in district leadership have voiced support for modifying collective bargaining arrangements, they fear the governor's plans could create lasting discord in school systems where relations between teachers and administrators have been relatively harmonious. Wisconsin has been at the center of a pitched political battle for nearly two weeks, since Gov. Walker proposed far-reaching changes to public workers' benefits and job protections. Those changes included raising educators' required contributions to their pensions and health insurance--a proposal the state's largest teachers' union says it is willing to accept. But more controversially, the governor and leaders of the GOP-controlled legislature have called for curtailing many bargaining rights for teachers and most other public employees, a plan that government workers have taken to the streets to oppose. Teachers also have joined demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana over Republican proposals to curb unions' collective bargaining power. Numerous other states have taken up similar measures, along with other proposals to require teachers to pay more for benefits, curb their tenure protections, and set limits on how unions can raise money. In announcing his plan, the governor pledged to give local governments, including school districts, "the tools to offset what may be reductions in state aid," including changes to collective bargaining rules. Gov. Walker predicted that without making changes to public workers' pensions, health insurance, and negotiating rights, state and local governments would have to lay off thousands of workers, including teachers. A number of officials representing school boards and districts agree that while their pension and health-care costs would likely decrease under the governor's plan, overall savings are difficult to predict--particularly those stemming from curbs to collective bargaining--and that the cumulative amount would almost certainly be insufficient to make up for anticipated cuts in state funding.
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail: customercare@epe.org; Web site: http://www.edweek.org/info/about/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin