November 10, 2017

Bitter AP Reporter Still Claims Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ‘Effectively Ended Collective Bargaining’

On Monday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he will seek a third term as Badger State Chief Executive next year. At the Associated Press, Scott Bauer, still bitter over Walker’s successful attempt to rein in the power of the state’s public-sector unions in 2011, falsely insisted, as he has for over 6-1/2 years, that Walker’s Act 10 legislation “effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.”

While there’s no question that Act 10 sharply limited the matters subject to collective bargaining, Bauer’s “effectively ended collective bargaining” claim about Act 10 is obviously not true.

The relevant section of the law limits the scope of collective bargaining for most public employees to wages, i.e., not pension or healthcare benefits, which were specified elsewhere. Total wage increases cannot exceed inflation unless approved by referendum.

This referendum feature is important. If unionized workers genuinely believe that they deserve raises greater than inflation, they can go to the voters for approval. If the voters agree, they’ll get larger raises. This is still “collective bargaining,” except that voters are on the other side of the table from the union on Election Day. This is as it should be, given that voters’ tax dollars pay the employees’ salaries.

Only in Scott Bauer’s alternative universe does what has described in the previous two paragraphs constitute “effectively ended collective bargaining.” As I wrote in 2012 when Bauer repeated this lie:

Y’know, Scott, you’ve been writing this garbage for 16 months. You can keep it up for the next 16 months or 16 years, but what won’t change is that fact that your statement today and the equivalent statements you’ve written in the past simply aren’t true, and never will be.

If collective bargaining had “effectively ended,” the public-sector unions would have gone out of existence — and they haven’t. It is a disgrace that the Associated Press has allowed Bauer to propagate this lie time and again for over six years.

Another sign of Bauer’s bitterness is seen in the bolded items in the following two excerpted paragraphs about the Badger State’s economy under Walker:

… The state’s unemployment rate, bolstered by the national economy, is the lowest it’s been since 2001. Walker earlier this year signed the largest economic development deal in state history, with Taiwanese company Foxconn Technology Group planning to invest up to $10 billion on a display screen factory that could employ 13,000 people.

Though some Democrats have criticized the deal, it was a significant victory for Walker, who has never fulfilled a 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs.

Gosh, Scott Bauer, why didn’t you tell your readers what Wisconsin’s unemployment rate actually is? Is it possible that this failure is because the answer, as of September, was a seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent (Table 1 at link) and only 3.0 percent before seasonal adjustments (Table 2)? Only 11 states had a lower seasonally adjusted rate in September, while only nine had a lower raw rate.

As to Walker’s campaign promise to created a quarter-million jobs in his first term:

  • The current seasonally adjusted total of private-sector payroll jobs added since December 2010, the month before Walker took office, is 221,600. The seasonally adjusted increase in jobs per the Household Survey is 227,600; this is entirely private sector employment and self-employment, since government employment during the period has been virtually unchanged. Given the low unemployment rate just cited, it’s hard to see how employment in the state could have increased by much more than it has.
  • Walker would likely have been able to come close to keeping his promise within four years instead of seven if the Obama administration hadn’t mismanaged the national economy into its worst post-downturn performance since the Great Depression. Walker was surely not alone in believing that the Tea Party wave which gave Republicans control of Congress in November 2010 would change Washington’s economic policies for the better. We all now know that it didn’t.
  • Additionally, as I noted in late 2013, “When he made his promise, Walker never imagined that the state’s far left-dominated public-sector unions would conduct themselves in such a sustained and intimidating manner” in reaction to the passage of Act 10 and during their unsuccessful recall effort. I argued at the time, and still believe, that “Their behavior arguably caused many businesses considering moving into the state or expanding within the state to hold off until they saw how the recall turned out, and if the business climate in the state would return to tolerable after that.”

The AP’s bitter Scott Bauer needs to work through his festering anger and hostility, and face the truth that public-sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin is not dead. Might I suggest that finding another line of work might be the path to inner peace?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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