Reform, not union-busting, in Wisconsin

February 23, 2011

Your editorial "Union badgering" (Feb. 22) conveniently omits the fact that Gov. Scott Walker campaigned to do exactly what he is doing, and that voters of Wisconsin elected him to do it. The public employees of Wisconsin and their paid-in-full senators in the state legislature apparently do not believe in elections.

Their claim that they now support pension and health-care relief for taxpayers is belied by the fact that they tried to jam increases in those very same benefits through the legislature before the Republicans took over, but they didn't have the votes to do so.

The fight in Wisconsin comes down to the basic proposition: Who controls the government — voters or public employee unions? If it is the latter, then why have elections?

As for the14 senators who left the state to avoid a vote, such conduct repudiates the very concept of government of, by and for the people. If a minority can blackmail the majority of duly elected officials by simply skipping town, then we will see such conduct repeated in different contexts by legislators across the country.

This conduct undermines the legislative process and, more importantly, the rule of law. The reforms proposed by Governor Walker are modest in simply requiring public employees to contribute to their very generous benefits and in requiring annual elections to recertify their unions. Employees could still bargain over wages. But reforms are definitely necessary to reduce the hundreds of billions of underfunded pensions and health-care plans that exist around the country.

Robert C. Erlandson, Lutherville

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