Anti-Union Legislation Will Cost Wisconsin $46 Million In Federal Funds

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.

Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate “collective bargaining rights” that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as “protective arrangements” or “Section 13C arrangements,” is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass — in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

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8 Comments to “Anti-Union Legislation Will Cost Wisconsin $46 Million In Federal Funds”

  1. Wisconsin reveals class war between ‘have-nots’ and ‘have yours’

    As public-sector unions protest over cuts to their taxpayer-funded benefits in Wisconsin, James Poulos offers an insight so simple and so insightful, it’s been bouncing around in my head all day:

    As talk turns to the ‘new class war’, the concept of a class defined not so much by its net worth or tax bracket as by its economic (and therefore political) dependence on government will sharpen step for step with the reality of this class, which will be hitting home in all its gruesome implications for those outside and inside it.

    Anyone who responds to the current crisis by anointing unionized employees of the government as the epitome of ‘the working man’ is placing themselves, and I really do not say this lightly, at the mercy of socialism — not just as an intellectual theory, but as an emotional promise of happiness. There has never been a viable, durable Labor Party in the US. But neither has the government class ever been so big or faced such an existential threat.

    It’s important to say that the concept is sharpening only now because public-sector unions have been a sleeper issue for years during which economic times were good (and there weren’t as many public-sector union members). Combine these three factors:

    1. Unions have represented more than a third of the public-sector workforce since the late 1970s;
    2. The public sector has expanded substantially as a portion of the American economy over the last 30 years;
    3. Union membership in the private sector has decreased sharply, going from one-in-five union membership in the private sector during the 1970s to about one-in-13 or worse.

    Unions have come to rely on the public sector because government employees are easier to organize, and managers less resistent. Who’s going to put up a fight over an organizing campaign with a politically active union when taxpayers are paying the bill? If the union wants nicer benefits, it’s easy to cave in, tax dollars and budgets be damned. It’s good for campaign coffers.

    That mentality may have worked during a boom period, but it doesn’t work in a bust when unemployment is rampant and the contrasts between haves and have nots are clear. Being a Wall Street banker may have some whiff of sin to the working man, but the loathsome element isn’t merely the wealth of the AIG or Goldman Sachs executive, but that it has been compensated with taxpayer subsidies when taxpayers themselves are struggling to make ends meet. It’s not so much about haves and have nots. It’s about haves and have yours.

    Taxpayers are becoming acutely aware of the have-yours as a class — something like Angelo Codevilla’s ruling class — whose gains in salaries and benefits aren’t associated with harder work and important innovations but political access. Public-sector unions rallying in Madison aren’t even taking a hit for their political activism, given that their protest is made possible by paid sick days, negotiated for them by their collective bargaining units who, it must be said, donate to the very people with whom they negotiate.

    Just look at the mess of the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to permit unionization among screeners. They won’t even attempt to educate workers about the perils of unionization because it’s someone else’s money and it’s politically profitable. From our editorial:

    The two biggest federal employee unions behind the campaign to permit collective bargaining at TSA, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), gave exclusively to Democratic incumbents and candidates over the last decade and now will compete to collect more than $27 million a year in union dues from the TSA’s 45,000 workers after the March 9 representation election.

    Combine that with the $100 million from Teachers Unions and AFSCME (state employees) mentioned in yesterday’s blog and you can see the gravy train being porked to infinity and beyond!

    And this is only the tip of the Union Iceberg.

    All of the people at the bargaining table are salaried by taxpayers anyway, so it’s a big negotiation with someone else’s money. But don’t call it “negotiation” — call it “divvying up the loot.”

    This whole exercise in protesting isn’t civil disobedience — it’s just another transaction, one in which the have-yours labor leaders are trying to reassert their authority over taxpayer resources by arguing that it’s inhumane to ask government workers to pay more into their own health care and pensions, and that collective bargaining means only one side gets a bargain.

    To distract from the sheer avarice of this position, the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, and others are trying to get as many people as possible to protest and show some kind of consensus that Gov. Scott Walker’s, R, position is unreasonable, even cruel. The numbers are impressive and the photos really do depict the us-vs-them drama, but not in the way union leaders and member hope because the chilling have yours subtext of every sign held aloft by a protesting union member is clear: We don’t work for you, taxpayer. You work for us. (Washington Examiner)

    If unions were formed to protect workers from employer abuse, right-to-work laws were created to protect taxpayers and workers from union abuse. States with such laws enjoy higher growth and purchasing power. (IBD)

    Unions have become just as bad or worse than the people they were formed to fight against.

    Liberals are Pro-Choice, you have the choice of giving them what they want when they want it, or they can force you to give it to them so they can do it anyhow. 🙂

    We have seen the Enemy and they are the Unions themselves.

  2. Boy your Liberal ™ answers are boringly predicatable and childish.

  3. I know what you mean, it’s all “right wing sheep” this and “right wing sheep” that….
    It’s so boring, but then if all you do all day is count sheep…

  4. It’s not “federal funds”. It’s taxpayer’s money.

  5. While this battle over union’s rights in Wisconsin is very interesting & monumental, I don’t have a strong feeling for either side. But there is one major issue that bugs me– why does the media seem to gloss over the fact that NOT ALL public unions are targeted in this law? State/local police & firefighter unions are exempt from this legislation. To my knowledge, they are the only public unions that supported Walker’s candidacy and provided money towards his election. (Although many of them are protesting with their fellow union-members now.)

    It smacks of favoritism by Gov Walker & his GOP brethren. Sure seems like they decided to crush unions in Wisconsin except for their police & fire buddies who supported them with votes & campaign dollars. And with the close connection to the billionaire Koch family, it sure seems like Walker & the GOP-controlled legislature have been properly bought & paid for.

  6. The Koch Brothers, the New all-purpose Liberal Boogeymen.
    Next thing you know, when your Cafe Expresso machine sprays your Mocha Java all over the kitchen it’s going to be the Koch Brothers Fault.
    Or Better yet, Global Warming is because them.
    Your car battery dies because of them.
    You’ll tell your Liberal kids that if they don’t follow the righeteous path of the Thought Police the Koch Brothers will come and snatch in the night!
    Their underneath their beds right now!!!
    BOO!!!

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