What are the legislative priorities of Senate Democrats?

Last week John “Sly” Sylvester of WTDY’s “Sly In The Morning” radio show reported the Wheeler Report did individual interviews with all returning and running incumbent state senators about legislation and agenda issues for the 2013 legislative session and that not a single Democratic State Senator had the restoration of collective bargaining rights mentioned among their legislative priorities.

While I’ve not been able to find the interviews on the Wheeler Report’s website, Sly posted the legislative priorities of each of the State Senators (Democrat and Republican alike), and not a single one listed the restoration of collective bargaining rights as a priority.

At a time when staff at the state’s King Veterans Home are being stretched to their breaking point because of outrageous amounts of overtime and assaults against correctional officers are on the rise, it would seem the restoration of collective bargaining rights for public employees would be appropriate. Without the ability to bargain with management employees have no voice in their workplaces on issues like excessive staff overtime and staff safety.

Despite the best efforts of Democrats in Wisconsin to make the recalls of Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the State Senate about everything other than Gov. Walker’s assault on collective bargaining rights for public employees, the recalls were absolutely a response to that assault, and it’s time some Democrats here in Wisconsin be reminded of that.


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18 thoughts on “What are the legislative priorities of Senate Democrats?

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  1. I am confident there are many important priorities such as restoration of collective bargaining rights for state workers which is my favorite though I am not now nor ever been a member of a union or a public employee.

    But allow me to add one that is below the political radar screen. It is a rape of the landscape here in western Wisconsin as well as destruction of wildlife habitat, a pollution of the air and water, and elimination of tourism for all seasons…forever.

    It is the stealth and money and total disregard of nature and man.

    It is one of Walker’s favored friends.

    It is sand mines, sand mines, sand mines.

  2. It’s my opinion that the recall lost because the opposition was able to effectively frame this as an all-union, all-the-time issue. Oh, and because the Dems did not hammer home how badly Walker has screwed the poor, students and the environment along with public employees. I’m a union member (well, was anyway) but my main reason for voting against Walker was because while collective bargaining might come back eventually, the environment won’t once he lets loose the hounds of environmental destruction; i.e., his business pals.
    Of course no one is going to publicly state that restoration of bargaining rights is a priority. That doesn’t mean that it’s not. It’s the elephant in the room and it’s not going away. Why give the opposition an issue to outspend us 6 – 1 on come November?

    1. Just caught that myself Andy. For those of you who don’t want to go the link, he calls it “ridiculous” that restoring collective bargaining rights isn’t a Senate Dem agenda, and that they’ll work to get them restored.

      Now there’s a few weasel words in there that Sly could rightfully say is a mealy-mouthed “we tried,” but it’s clear Sly’s show and this posting and other efforts have been heard. And if WisDems were smart, they’d point to how Ohio’s economy has boomed in the last 9 months since collective bargaining was returned to public employees, while Wisconsin continues to have the worst economy in the Midwest.

      Progressive messages are winning messages, and Dems should not hide away from them. Not pushing those messages enough is a significant reason behind Barrett’s loss in June, regardless of what Sue says. Collective bargaining rights are a part of that puzzle (not the whole thing, like Sly thinks, but it is an important part).

      1. BINGO! I do like listening to Sly (at times) but I do feel like he’s been in the Madison bubble a little too long and not living in parts of WI where people ADORE Walker’s agenda. The vision of cause and effect between his policies is night and day.

      2. I couldn’t agree more that progressive messages are winning messages, and Democrats running things here in Wisconsin would be wise to remember that.

        I did want to just say that having talked to Sly about this issue on the phone, he knows the restoration of collective bargaining rights isn’t the whole issue – he just wants to see that issue be more of a priority (rightfully so). Your point about Ohio’s economy since the restoration of collective bargaining there is on point, and if we want to see some serious economic growth in Wisconsin that’s as good a place as any to start.

  3. On a related note, props to Sly for being all over the King Veterans home issue. He mentioned that a resident of the homes wandered off and was found dead near a pond, which is more likely to happen when you intentionally understaff and overwork the ones left. Same routine happened at Walker’s Mental Health Center in Milwaukee County.

    And we need to connect the dots here, because you know Walker and the ALEC folks who pull his strings want government services to fail, so they can sell them off to campaign contributors. Collective bargaining rights don’t just deal with pay and benefits, it also gives a voice to workers in determining how to run things ‘on the ground’, instead of leaving it all to bureaucrats and management that may not have the quality of service as the first priority

  4. The return of collectiver bargning is only important to 360,000 people in wisconsin the other 5,350,000 are more concerned about economy. To waste even one minute of time in the next session on collective bargining will start a new round of recall the people of this state are tired of the few putting their needs in front of what is best for the whole state.

    1. JWayne, explain to me how collective bargaining had an impact on the state economy. Gov. Walker himself admitted under oath to Congress that many of the provisions of Act 10 had no bearing on Wisconsin’s purported budget gap, with the exception of health insurance premiums and pension contributions, both of which public employee unions had agreed to make concessions on due to the state’s economic situation.

      Explain how making it more difficult for public employee unions to organize and to collectively bargain non-economic issues such as working conditions, discipline, etc. have anything to do with the economy, and try to use something other than Scott Walker/Republican talking points to do so.

    2. “…collective bargaining is only important to 360,000 people…”

      Bad math or a lie, JWayne!

      Spouse and children could at least triple your bad math/lie of the “only concerned.”

      And don’t omit adding extended family members and supportive friends of the 360,000 to a corrected total.

      Consider also that 25% of the population who as Catholics are taught that collective bargaining is a moral right in “Rerum Novarum,” reaffirmed in a letter by U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2010, and a letter by Catholic Archbishop Listiki in 2011 cautioning the legislators on Act 10.

      Last but not least are many such as I who as neither a public employee or a union member support a worker’s moral right to be represented by a union.

      Bad math or a lie?

      Maybe both.

  5. Anf to go further, explain to me how taking thousands of dollars out of a family’s pocket and replacing it with NOTHING but tax cuts to the rich (which haven’t worked for our economy for 30 years and have only increased inequality) helps an economy. It doesn’t, it only funnels money to the rich and the corporate, who don’t spend it in communities like middle class people do.

    And it didn’t balance our budget, as the $558 million in extra borrowing for the last year proved. Allowing for collective bargaining rights helps everyone in our communities through decent wages, stable home values, and better services. Fitzwalkerstan is a big 0 for 3 in those departments. If Dems run on that truth, and connect it to the defunding of schools and communities, it’s a big winner.

  6. The issue is ,(1) if you hire someone to do a job, you don’t want to be subject to that person’s demands on the amount of money he gets and conditions you must meet before he works. It happens, but people will avoid it if at all possible. That’s basic. Next(2) unions don’t make the case for unions to the public. Asking politicians concerned with (1)getting elected to do that is asking too much. Unions have got to go out into the public media and make their case. No Sci-Fi writer or futurist today sees unions in the future of America or even the world.

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