PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Who Are They Trying To Kid?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on January 4, 2010

Steve Schultze, intrepid propagandist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has a column in today’s paper entitled “Walker says layoffs not needed if workers OK big concessions.”

Unbelievably, Schultze actually writes this:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has dropped his tough layoff talk – at least for now – saying the county’s 2010 budget can survive without radical midyear surgery as long as county unions agree to substantial givebacks.

Whether prompted by a wave of holiday goodwill, political considerations for his 2010 governor’s campaign or pure optimism, Walker’s tone on solving the county’s ongoing budget woes has turned brighter.

“As of today, we have no plans for layoffs in 2010,” Walker said last week. “We aren’t even preparing for layoffs in 2010.”

He hasn’t ruled out layoffs, but his comments were in marked contrast to most of this year, when Walker set tempers flaring and anxiety levels rising with threats of mass layoffs unless unions took big cuts. The county has expired labor deals with its largest unions.

So, let me get this straight. For the past year, Walker has done nothing but announce one alleged fiscal crisis after another (most of which were self-induced by Walker himself and/or his staffers), with his only solution to be to lay off more workers. Each and every time, it was either shown that there was no real crisis or that there were other ways to resolve the problem.

Now Walker is saying that if workers concede to big layoffs, i.e. fix his budget mistakes, then there will be no layoffs.

In other words:

Then: Walker says give me what I want to support my campaign, or I will lay you off.

Now: Walker says give me what I want to support my campaign, and I won’t lay you off.

Oh, yeah, now I see it! How sweet of him! He’s really mellowed, don’t you think?

Perhaps this faux olive twig that Walker is supposedly, but not really, offering is simple recognition that his perpetual campaign for governor will get seriously derailed when the County starts to implode next week as his faulty budget, with its $20 million hole, officially kicks in.

And for those that might not have caught on, Walker’s refusal to allow a contract to be reached as cost Milwaukee County tax payers millions of dollars in lost savings. These losses will only continue as Walker continues to stall contract negotiations and arbitration, in order to try to minimize the damage to his campaign.

And considering that Walker will still get his cost of living wage increase, and that he has already given some unions, like the nurses’ union, a contract with raises included, I doubt the likelihood of Walker being able to successfully get many concessions from the unions.

So remember, when grandma doesn’t get her services, or you find the parks’ bathrooms unsafe to use, or your bus route gets cut, Walker had a chance to prevent it by just sitting down with the unions over a year ago and doing some good faith bargaining instead of grandstanding and campaigning.

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