An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker pretty much sums up how I feel

From the Oshkosh Northwestern via Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse:

An Open Letter to Governor Walker,

I have received your letter requesting funds for your recall election effort. Sadly, I am an employee of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. About a year or so ago my wages were cut due to increases in my health insurance premium. Since becoming an employee of the UW System in 1999, five percent of my pay has been withheld and automatically applied to the WRS fund for my retirement. However, around the same time as my insurance premiums nearly tripled, an additional five percent of my pay was taken from me and applied to the WRS fund. Mind you, my pay was not increased to replace what had previously been negotiated out of state employee paychecks and I now find myself taking home less in 2012 than I did in 2007.

With the prices of gas, milk, cereal and other things continually increasing, but my take-home pay continually decreasing, I simply do not have any money to contribute to your campaign coffers. However, I did notice that according to the 2011-2013 Compensation Plan, the Office of Governor received a pay increase. Please consider the portion of my state income tax that was applied to your pay increase as my contribution to your re-election effort.

Daniel M. Hoyt

As a public employee, I’ve seen my take-home pay decrease over the past few years (whether thanks to Gov. Doyle’s furloughs or Gov. Walker’s overall assault on public employees), and I’m wondering exactly when Gov. Walker’s “tools” are going to start working for me and my family. As a parent, all I want is to provide my children with a middle-class upbringing, but thanks to the increased cost of living and my stagnating (or declining) take-home pay, that’s getting harder and harder to do.

Contrary to the meme that’s so popular among conservatives, the vast majority of public employees aren’t getting rich at the expense of taxpayers; they’re just trying to provide for their families.


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13 thoughts on “An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker pretty much sums up how I feel

  1. “About a year or so ago my wages were cut” and here we have the union lie that they want people to believe. Their wages HAVE not been cut, they are still getting the same paycheck as before all that is happening is now they are paying out of their pockets for items that before other Wisconsin taxpayers were paying for them. Be honest union people and you would get support of more people of Wisconsin, but if you continue to lie like you have for that last year you just will not get the respect of the people in this state.

    1. I don’t follow your logic, Dante. If these items were previously part of that person’s contract, paid by the employer, and now the employee is paying them… they are no longer receiving that part of their compensation. They had to pay for those benefits. It’s a pay cut.

      1. No, actually, let’s use the term that the letter-writer used correctly:

        It’s a take-home pay cut. Translated: The largest employer in the state, the state itself, has cut the disposable income of many thousands of Wisconsinites, who now are spending far less in the businesses where the rest of you work . . . or used to work, before you were laid off because your businesses suffered from so many state employees no longer able to support you.

        Of course, the state gets to claim that our salaries are ‘way up here, and the state and feds get to tax us at that salary level — but our take-home pay in the UW has gone ‘way down here.

        And Prof. Hoyt also could point out that UW faculty have not had raises for even longer than other, unionized state employees — UW faculty were banned by law from collective bargaining, when all other state employees had that right — because even before Walker, Doyle cancelled the last round of raises already promised to us, six years ago. And then Doyle hit us with the fake furloughs, actually a pay cut, because faculty were ordered to not cut classes, advising, committee meetings, and more — in sum, to not cut our workload at all.

        As a result, it actually is worse for those of us who have been here longer than Prof. Hoyt. I also am a prof in the UW System, and my take-home pay has been cut to what it was 10 years ago. And I’m closer to retirement, or at least I was, but now I’ll have to keep working for more years than planned, while we also worry about steps that Walker is taking to steal from our pension fund.

        Repeat: our pension fund. Other taxpayers (yes, we are taxpayers, too) have not put a penny into our pension fund. It came from our paychecks, not theirs. If you disagree, then turn your paycheck over to me, because it’s mine, no matter that it has your name on it. My paycheck has my name on it, for my earnings — and for my pension deductions.

        And when we finally do retire, just wait and see what it will cost to replace us. Our salaries (repeat: salaries) in most of the UW System (not at Madison) are so far below the national norms, as we know from annual studies just released, that it’s going to be quite costly for the rest of you state taxpayers to compete to hire new profs.

        But that’s a problem to be faced by the rest of you. I’ll be gone, long gone from a Wisconsin that I no longer recognize, where I have lived all of my life but now demonizes me as a “union thug” — although, again, I was banned from collective bargaining rights. And I’ll be taking my pension savings with me to spend elsewhere.

      2. John, you don’t need logic to master this one. All you need is a dictionary. Wages are what you get paid.

        It doesn’t matter you have some elaborate “compensation package” that gives you non-wage benefits and perks. Wages are wages. and if the wages themselves aren’t cut, then it’s dishonest to say they were.

        I’ve never been a big wheel with compensation packages, custom-made employment contracts or any of the things that the executive suite club has come to expect. I’ve only been offered a boilerplate, take it or leave it contract that permits my employer to change the rules any time they like.

        Even if I had a fancy contract, as long as the change was made to the part of the compensation package that’s not wages, it wouldn’t be right for me to say I got my wages cut. Simple as that.

        1. Again, you’re half-right but half-wrong, Memory Man.

          Walker made a huge change to the part of the compensation package that comes from state workers’ wages.

          And Prof. Hoyt also was only offered a take-it or leave-it contract, too, because UW faculty were banned by your state law from collective bargaining. (That is, as other state workers in their unions agreed, again and again, to take compensation packages instead of salary increases, no one asked the UW faculty; they just got stuck with the result of what other workers agreed in their collective bargaining negotiations. Many if not all UW faculty would have acted otherwise, had they had the right to even be asked.)

          And, of course, his contract and that of all UW faculty clearly permitted his employer — you — to change the rules anytime that you liked, because that’s exactly what happened under Doyle and again under Walker; see again the paragraph above re Walker — in the name of you, the citizens of the state — made a huge change to the part of the compensation package, etc. . . .

          1. The Other Anon, the presence or absence of collective bargaining has no bearing on whether or not an individual can negotiate a compensation package on their own. So the cause and effect that you claim is fallacious.

            I can’t make heads nor tails of the mumbo-jumbo that you wrote about this Prof. Hoyt person, and really don’t care. I can tell you with complete certainty that I have no authority to hire or fire any UW employee, including Prof. Hoyt. So you’re dead wrong about that.

            Do you know what the word “again” means? I suggest that you look it up, because I’m growing weary of you claiming to tell me things for the first time “again”.

            1. Memory Man, you do not understand how faculty compensation works and state raises work, clearly — when we had any raises to allocate. We’ll leave it at that, as you clearly do not want to know.

              As for “this Prof. Hoyt person,” you might want to read the original post to keep up with the discourse. Again. . . .

    2. Half-truths, Dante.

      Yes, the salaries of state employees have not been reduced. Nor, of course, have they been increased for years (have you gotten raises in the last half-dozen years? I haven’t) — unless they’re among the 220 sycophants of Walker who got bonuses. But thousands and thousands of us state employees did not.

      However, no, we are not getting the same paychecks as before, because Walker cut our take-home pay by more than 10 percent. He doubled our costs for benefits, including for our pension payments — but you never, ever paid a penny into my pension, Dante. It came from my paycheck, from my earnings for my work for you.

      Now, if you want to claim that you paid into my pension, you’re a thief who is stealing a portion of my paycheck, with my name on it. So just turn over your paycheck to me, because I supported you all these years by buying from your business employer, because that would only be fair by your reasoning. Oh, and turn over your pension and other savings to me, too, since you would not have had work without me, your Wisconsin consumer for more than sixty years now.

      But not a Wisconsinite for any longer than I can help, if ever I can retire, because your reasoning and your demonizing of me will make me leave Wisconsin to the likes of you.

  2. I left after 19 years with the state (in public health) and quit my second job to go work in a similar position in the private sector at 30% more pay. I was fortunate to continue doing something I love in a related industry. This is not an option for a number of public employees. A friend who still works for the state interviews people with syphilis to make sure they get treated properly and their partners are informed and also treated. Because of his type of work, there hasn’t been a syphilitic stillbirth in Wisconsin in many years. He’s very good at locating people and persuading them to divulge very personal information. He definitely has skills that would transfer to the private sector. There is NO job in the private sector that serves the same purpose, however. When he decides he’s had enough, what happens to the next generation? Do we go back to the good old days when syphilis was a major cause of death?

    1. Tanya, there is a thing called mentorship. Mentors informally train their protégés so that when the time comes, the protégé now has the special skills of the mentor. This tradition can go on forever.

      Mentorship is a labor of love. It’s not a paid position, and isn’t on the books. Nevertheless plenty of mentors find satisfaction in doing it.

      OTOH if a mentor decides that it’s now a paying job or nothing, then everybody loses.

  3. John Foust’s assessment is the accurate one – the truthful one. Dante’s reasoning stems from the logic of covetousness, envy, and resentment. Its purpose is corrosive, to sow discord and schism.

    Be honest Dante: Your core objection is that a portion of your tax dollars are allotted to the wage and benefit packages of public sector employees, is it not?

    Be honest Dante: You believe public employees are cheating you, stealing from you the taxpayer?

    Be honest Dante: Are you not resentful of public employees, whom you regard as overcompensated for their service?

    Be honest Dante: Neither compassion or empathy would apply to your opinion of public employees.

  4. Dear Pj,

    No I do not object to my taxes being usd to pay public employees.
    No I do not see it as cheating
    No I fell a good number are underpaid, especially guards, police and fire.

    My opinion of public employes are the vast majority are whiners

    1. So, you think public employees are liars and whiners? So, do you have compassion or empathy for lying, whining public employees? And, just out of curiosity, what is it precisely that you feel they are whining about?

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