From the quick spot research I have done, I can't find an example of a time when a whole Legislature's worth of Republicans fled the state to avoid having a vote go against them. Plenty of 'Not voted' checks marks(and that is across party lines), but never a time where a whole batch of Republican Legislators ran away because they weren't happy with the writing on the wall.
Enough bashing...most politicians suck...best just to accept that and stew quietly. Oops...one quote in particular from this article bears bashing on:
"The story around the world is the rush to democracy," said Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. "The story in Wisconsin is the end of the democratic process."
Ummm...Bob....Get Over it!!!!! The 'democratic process' worked. The majority of voters in your state elected a Republican Governor. A majority of voters from a majority of Districts voted to give you a Republican controlled Legislature. THAT IS DEMOCRACY!!!!!!!!! Grow the F#*& UP! You still live in Wisconsin. Move to North Korea if you really think democracy is dead in Wisconsin.
Now to look at the bill which is causing all this consternation. The AP is labeling it 'The nation's most aggressive anti-union proposal'. Let's break it down a bit.
The bill would strip collective bargaining rights from all Wisconsin Public Employees(state, county, local) except for Police, Fire and State Patrol. It would also make workers pay half of their own pension plan costs, and 12.6% of health care plan costs. The Governor says this would be an increase an employees share of the Pension and Health Plans go up an average of 8%. He doesn't say 8% of what...total salary, take home pay, or their previous expenses...whatever. I hate things quoted as percentages with no supporting data. Also, the Governor is saying this is much less than is being asked of people in the private sector, and I have no reason to doubt the truth of that.
Asking people to pay a larger share of their pension and health care does seem to be the standard. When dealing with the Unions though, often times that involves having to renegotiate an existing contract that written in happier less fiscally responsible times. In several prior situations(as proven by this very old article by Gregg Easterbrook, included just so I don't seem to be speaking out of my belly-button), when faced with the reality of either renegotiating contracts or being laid off, Unions haven't always done what seems to make sense.
On the plus side of the bill, it would save the state of Wisconsin 300 Million dollars over the next two years. Unions would still be able to represent workers, they would just not be able to demand pay increases beyond the consumer price index, or FORCE EMPLOYEES TO PAY DUES.
In my opinion, it is this last thing that is really driving the Unions crazy.
My wife and I don;t agree on everything, and one thing we disagree somewhat on is Unions. As a Nurse, she sees the positive side of the Nurses Union as far as being an advocate for patients rights, and ensuring that nurses are given proper working conditions and hours to take good care of their patients. As a manager, I dislike that unions have a way of protecting people that are better off on the street. Actually, dislike is not nearly a strong enough word. If I was an unmotivated employee, I would certainly want to work for a union company. As a person...I recognize that Unions played a very strong role in protecting workers and establishing workers rights. I have seen pictures of the conditions people used to have to work in...I would hate to see a return to those working conditions.
One thing my wife and I do agree that somewhere along the it would appear that SOME Unions may have gotten too big and greedy. Along the way, SOME Unions have gone from being about the workers, to about the Union. While protecting the workers from the evils of Big Business, the union has BECOME a Big Business. By taking away the unions right to force employees to pay union dues, how can union management continue to earn a living just by being union management?
In the end, this whole thing once again boils down to some people not being able to accept reality. Things can NOT continue the way they have in the past. Spending has to come down. There is a reason people want to be public employees...traditionally, it's a pretty secure, well-paying gig. Not always, and even the proposed Wisconsin bill recognizes that...exempting the fire fighters and law-enforcement groups from the bill. The only public employees I feel a little badly for under this bill are teachers. Everyone recognizes that most public school teachers are not paid adequately for what is expected of them. In an era of across the board budget cuts, I am not sure how you solve that problem...Oh, I have ideas, but none of them will get ME elected.
Until someday things get bad enough, and then my ideas do get me elected!