There is a remarkable drama being played out in Wisconsin as newly elected Governor Scott Walker attempts to get a handle on an unmanageable state budget. Reducing the collective bargaining rights of public employees other than police, firefighters and the state patrols one of the keys to his efforts.
Yesterday a substantial share of unionized Wisconsin public school teachers called in sick, illegally staging a strike to protest the governor’s efforts. The Madison school district was forced to close when more than 40 percent of the teachers called in sick.
According to the AP story, the head of the 98,000-member statewide teachers union called on all Wisconsin residents to come to the Capitol today for the votes in the Senate and Assembly. Several districts, including Madison for a second day, said they would close.
Jay Nordlinger was all over the story at NRO’s Corner — here, here, here, here, here, and here. Please check all these posts out. It’s an important story, and Jay’s decency provides the natural framework within which to sort things out.
Patrick McIlheran provides the background to the story in his Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column:
Say you generally liked Gov. Scott Walker’s move to rein in government labor costs but had a few doubts on his method. The last few days should have cleared that up nicely.
The public-sector union tantrums, meant to make lawmakers wobble, have an inadvertent message for the rest of us: Voters can vote all they want. We can elect a cheapskate governor and a Legislature to match. But come the moment, unions will have the last, loudest word.
They’ll have it if takes marches. They’ll have it if it takes what amounts to an illegal strike, with so many Madison teachers calling in sick Wednesday that the district closed schools. If it takes showing up for a we-know-where-your-family-is protest on Walker’s Wauwatosa lawn while he was at work, the unions are sure they can outshout any election result.
This is exactly why Walker is right to limit the unions’ power over government spending. . . .
McIlheran adds: “Union activists in Madison Tuesday spoke apocalyptically of ‘class war,’ hinting wildly at general strikes and takeovers of the Capitol. They correctly see their control of the state slipping and must figure that if they bring 13,000 shouting people to Madison, they can overrule the election.
The battle in Wisconsin pits unionized government workers pulling out all the stops against elected officials representing the voters. President Obama, but of course, is weighing in on the side of the unions against Governor Walker. Obama doesn’t think he ha his hands full with federal budgetary issues; he thinks he can take on Wisconsin’s issues as well.
In the words of the old union song, which side are you on? To paraphrase slightly, will you be a lousy fool or will you be a man?
NOTE: NRO also posted the illuminating video below of the march on Madison yesterday.
UPDATE: Jay Nordlinger reports to work this morning with another note on “The sickness in Wisconsin.”