Over at Cognitive Dissidence, Jeff Simpson is on the offensive against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke on the issue of the restoration of collective bargaining rights for public employees.
At the root of Simpson’s attack is Burke’s response when asked about Act 10, Gov. Walker’s union-busting, collective bargaining-eliminating legislation by Judith Davidoff of the Isthmus|Daily Page.
Davidoff: So you’d look to repeal Act 10?
Burke:I think there is a difference, and what I’d look at is restoring collective bargaining.
Davidoff: Are there any parts of ACT 10 that you agree with?
Burke: Yes, I do believe [state employees] paying a fair share of health care and pension costs is something we needed in order to be able to balance the budget.
Simpson takes great umbrage with Burke’s answer, going so far as to direct readers to check out Scott Walker’s reelection campaign website if they want to learn more about Mary Burke’s campaign platform.
But here’s the problem with Jeff Simpson’s attack on Mary Burke: what she has said about Act 10 – specifically that collective bargaining should be restored but public employees should contribute more to health insurance and pension costs is exactly the same position taken in 2011 by Marty Beil, the Executive Director of AFSCME Council 24, the Wisconsin State Employees Union (emphasis added).
Earlier Friday, Marty Beil, head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said his members would agree to pay more of their pension contributions and health insurance benefits as Walker is demanding. But Beil said his union would never agree to give up decades-old bargaining rights.
Beil’s union is part of AFSCME, the largest state and local employee union in Wisconsin, which represents 68,000 workers for the state, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and other municipalities. An AFSCME spokesman said Beil was speaking for all the group’s union locals in the state.
“We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state’s budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union . . . we will not – I repeat we will not – be denied our rights to collectively bargain,” Beil said in a statement.
The answer Mary Burke gave when asked about Act 10 by Judith Davidoff is the same answer Burke gave me when I asked her about Act 10 during our interview, and it’s an answer that’s wholly consistent with the position taken by Marty Beil and AFSCME since the fight over Act 10 began.
On a sidenote, I’ve been as critical of Mary Burke as the next person, but directing folks to check out Scott Walker’s reelection website to “know more of the Mary Burke/ Dem party platform for the coming election” is not only sophomoric, but it does absolutely nothing to help defeat Scott Walker in 2014, and that should be our ultimate goal.