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Ruling Shows Walker’s Lack Of Vision, Leadership, Understanding

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on June 30, 2009

The big news around Milwaukee County Monday morning was that the arbitrator ruled in favor of the union in its grievance against Scott Walker’s illegal plan for a furlough.

The ruling in itself may or may not have deep significance, depending on what the arbitrator based his ruling on. If the decision was based only on the fact that Walker left the furlough open-ended, then all Walker would have to do is issue another edict with a specific ending date. If the issue was the length of the furlough, Walker could just issue another edict for the specified length (the common number being mentioned is four weeks).

However, if the ruling is based on the fact that a .03% projected deficit does not constitute a financial crisis worthy of such drastic measures, then it would show that Walker was trying to manipulate the situation by creating an artificial crisis to either promote his campaign, put pressure on the union during contract negotiations, or both. I would tend to guess both.

We will not know the significance of the ruling until the final written version is provided.

But Walker’s reaction to the news is very telling. He called it “shocking and disappointing.” He then said that he would wait to see the written ruling before deciding whether to pursue legal action regarding it or to just take what steps he could to ensure the furlough. He also threw out the possibility of layoffs.

All of these actions would end up costing the county more than any potential savings, either through litigation costs or through lost revenues.

He is basing his claims on the fact that Judge Flynn ruled in his favor last Friday. What he doesn’t understand is that these were two entirely different cases based on two entirely different premises.

The union suing for an injunction was to prevent the furlough until such time as the arbitrator made his ruling. The union even admits that they did not expect to win the injunction. The key contest was the grievance, and whether Walker even had the right to do what he was trying to do. So far, it looks like he didn’t.

The one thing that Walker doesn’t mention as an option to the supposed deficit crisis is the one that would offer him the greatest chance of making substantial savings for the tax payers. That one thing is to sit down with the unions and finally do some serious, honest contract negotiations.

But Walker doesn’t want to do that. He is afraid that he might have to give up something that would make him look soft on the unions. It would also prevent him from being able to do what he loves to do best, grandstanding. Walker wants to claim an even more severe deficit for next year and make even more draconian demands, like laying off hundreds of workers, severe pay cuts to those remaining, and removing their benefits, like their pensions.

In his press conference, Walker made some grand statements regarding his “moral obligation to the taxpayers” and his “legal obligation to have a balanced budget.”

I say that if Walker was serious about those obligations, he would and should sit down and do some honest bargaining with the union. I’ve pointed out before how this would save taxpayers millions of dollars, and the longer he puts off negotiations, the more it costs tax payers in lost savings. (It would also give me one less thing to harp about.)

If he doesn’t want to do that, then he needs to step aside and let someone who is willing to put Milwaukee County’s best interests first do the job he is incapable of doing.


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