Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Walker talks with Texas billionaire but refuses to talk with 300,000 Wisconsin citizens

Gonzo journalist Ian Murphy heard one of Wisconsin's Senate Democrats complaining that Gov. Scott Walker was impossible to reach on the phone. So Murphy came up with a prank call: He posed as right-wing financier David Koch and called Walker's receptionist. Shortly thereafter, he was on the phone with the governor himself.

In the interview Walker admits that he considered infiltrating the demonstrations, jokes about bashing unions with a bat and declares that he is not a pragmatist, but a conservative. In other words Walker isn't interested in solving problems. He is a true believer whose commitment is to an ideology not solving Wisconsin's problems. This explains why even after the unions have agreed to his economic demands he continues to demand to that public employees give up their democratic right to have a union.

Here is the interview:

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes that "... the transcript of the conversation is unexceptional (I disagree), the fact of it is lethal. The state's Democratic senators can't get Walker on the phone, but someone can call the governor's front desk, identify themselves as David Koch, and then speak with both the governor and his chief of staff? That's where you see the access and power that major corporations and wealthy contributors will have in a Walker administration, and why so many in Wisconsin are reluctant to see the only major interest group representing workers taken out of the game.

The critique many conservatives have made of public-sector unions is that they both negotiate with and fund politicians. It's a conflict of interest. Well, so too do corporations, and wealthy individuals. That's why Murphy -- posing as Koch -- was able to get through to Walker so quickly. And it shows what Walker is really interested in here: He is not opposed, in principle, to powerful interest groups having the ear of the politicians they depend on, and who depend on them. He just wants those interest groups to be the conservative interest groups that fund him, and that he depends on.


Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with the Washington Post Columnist that the interview transcript did not provide any great quotes implicating Scott Walker. What it really did was confirm what we knew: he is unwilling to budge.

Whether or not this is a respectable character trait is debatable (I really wish Democrats held strong and ended the war and/or created a public health care option). What's not debatable is your point: this guy is a puppet.

What's most amazing about the prank call, in my opinion, are the following:
1) The call lasted 20 minutes
2) The prank caller asked few questions and rarely spoke
3) Ronald Reagan isn't just an overblown icon for the masses, he gets Scott Walker's motor going!

I'm a PhD student about to defend my dissertation in 1 week. Until today, I dedicated my work "to the State of Wisconsin, in all it's glory." I know it's phony, but my goal was to give back to my home state which provided me with endless opportunity growing up. But after this mess, I removed that sentence. I know I'm just some meaningless kid who once dreamed of being an Industrial Engineering professor at UW (and I know I raided this blog), but what a buzzkill this Walker guy is.

Anonymous said...

Wrong Dr Rosen, he is listening. He is listening to all those who voted for him.

He told us today that he couldn't trust the unions. You know, the ones like yours that said they would accept the pension and health cost concessions. How much did your union "give back" in concessions to the contract that wasn't supposed to expire until June. And why did your contract go in effect the date it was approved, not June 1 or at the end date of the old contract? Was that EVER done in previous negotiations?

Why don't you go back to the MATC Board and renegotiate those "concessions". Until then, you have no credibility.

You can delete and hide this comment and be just as brave as the missing 14.

Anonymous said...

You said at the rally, "It's not about the wages, it's about bargaining rights."

Prove it. Go back and renegotiate to pay 50% of your pension contribution and 5.8% of your health care coverage. Then people will listen.

Otherwise, it's just more noise.

the other side of the coin said...

Maybe Walker should have taken a call from FDR. He said this in 1937:

"... Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations ... The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for ... officials ... to bind the employer ... The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives ...

"Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people ... This obligation is paramount ... A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent ... to prevent or obstruct ... Government ... Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government ... is unthinkable and intolerable."

Michael Rosen said...

We began negotiating in October 2010 long before Walker was even elected Governor. Negotiations were completed before he announced that he intended to destroy public sector unions. We began bargaining early because the college was facing a budget deficit the result of the Great Recession and a resulting decline in revenues. The new contract includes $11.7 million worth of concessions, no salary increase for two years, and an agreement to hold 19 faculty positions open for three year, money that will help the college balance its budget and ensure we can serve our students. It saves the college more (about $900,000) than if we had implemented Governor Walker's plan which provides for salary increases. And yes two years ago we reopened a contract in the middle of it and gave up a negotiated salary increase. If your real concern is helping local public institutions responsibly grapple with the current economic environment you would love this new contract. If you have an ideological hatred of educators and public employees facts won't change your mind.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rosen, could you clarify a few points?

For new contract.
"no salary increase for two years"
Does that include raises for years of service or will employees still get a raise for each year they worked at MATC?

"And yes two years ago we reopened a contract in the middle of it and gave up a negotiated salary increase"
Same question.
And, in the second year of the "give back" did the employees get the raise from the prior year AND the second year. In other words, double the raise the second year? Plus years of service raises?

And I don't hate public employees because I am one.