February 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should the power of public labor unions be reduced?


Demonstrators protested in the capitol rotunda last night in Madison, Wisconsin. Demonstrators have occupied the building with a round-the-clock protest for the past 13 days protesting Governor Scott Walker's attempt to push through a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for most government workers in the state. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been two weeks since public-union supporters in Wisconsin began protesting in and around the state capitol in Madison.

They're upset over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to close the state's $3.6 billion budget gap. It calls for putting limits on public workers' collective bargaining rights and requiring those workers to have more money taken out of their paychecks for health care and pension funds.

But the budget bill is at a standstill. It passed the State Assembly, but rather than vote on the bill in the Senate, which is their job, the Democratic state senators ran away to Illinois and have not returned. But Walker is holding his ground.

Pro-union protesters have taken to state capitol buildings in Indiana and Ohio as well over the past week. This is also in response to Republican-sponsored bills calling for cuts to public union employees' benefits and limiting their collective bargaining rights.
In Tennessee, teachers are fighting a bill that would take away their collective bargaining rights. They've already said they'd make some concessions on areas such as tenure, which prevents teachers from being fired but is often criticized as keeping bad teachers in the classroom.

In this economy, public labor unions have lost a good amount of popular support. That's because private-sector union workers no longer get the job protection, health benefits and pension plans these state employees still enjoy.

Here’s my question to you: Should the power of public labor unions be reduced?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

John in Marlton, New Jersey:
Yes, public labor unions have gone beyond 'collective bargaining' to holding taxpayers hostage. The most recent 'insurgency' in state capitals (i.e. Wisconsin) is no less than financial terrorism that circumvents our 'voting/electoral' process. Now is the time to address not only the value of public unions but the actual productivity of civil servants.

Ken in Seattle:
Separate the paper pushers who make our government stupid and discipline their demands. One should not get to keep a job when lazy and late and sloth-like. Leave the teachers be.

Michael in Albuquerque:
A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies looks at the Tea Partier and says,"look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."

Eve in Texas:
Only when the super rich stop running our nation. Many people dislike unions and their past and present abuses, but these abuses do not compare to the blatant buy-out of our congress by the super rich. I fully support unions because they have been responsible for maintaining what little middle class we have left.

The Unions need to be strengthened. The workers of America have been vilified for everything bad that has happened. It is the rich, corporate bosses, Wall Street, the banks, and the rich Republicans who cater to the wealthy that have caused this mess. Remember Bush/Cheney took over a great economy and turned it into a near depression.

Paul in New Port Richey, Florida:
There should be no public unions. The very idea that the union negotiates with the people they elect is corrupt beyond the pale.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. John from Alabama

    Jack: To reduce public labor unions right to collective bargain is reducing their effectiveness. It is also reducing a democratic organization which already use a secret ballot to decide contracts and elections of officers. Unions are not the problem, but the economy and lack of funds to run schools and public services. Wisconsin and Ohio will have to use force to stop unions. Force did not work in the 1930,s or 1940's.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  2. cal

    Yes. If you are a public work there should be not extra perks give to you that the tax payer gets. Good jobs done should be review and given credit were it is due. No labor union worker would be allow to vote on this nor any elected goverment person change each year who is picked to review this that way no one person can be bought.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  3. Jeff S. - Peoria, IL

    I sure wish I could elect my boss, have him give me a raise in exchange for a kickback to his re-election as boss, so he can give himself a raise and on and on. The corrupt politicians and public sector labor unions have pillaged the public coffers enough.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  4. Steve

    The power of labor unions definetly should be reduced. They only represent the minority. They collect money from union members and support the Democratic party. I don't like to be forced in paying dues and have my money be used for candidates that I don't agree with. This is blatently a form of extorsion. How about al those members that are non union. They pay taxes to support the teachers , cops and fire fighters. The more they make the more the poor taxpayers have to pay. If unions are so great why doesn't the whole country join the unions? Then all corporations will all be in China. All we would have is government workers, and fast food chains.
    I hate to say it but unions destroy businesses, they're discriminatory, greedy, and they are as close to organized crime as you can get, with the support of chief union enforcer called Obama.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Joan

    Yes, because they have manipulated the system to sit on both sides of the bargaining table, and that equals "conflict of interest". Workers are good people, the Union Leaders are bad news.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Greg in Arkansas

    How soon we forget the corruption of the past.

    Public labor unions, although imperfect, have improved the life of public service employees and provided better service than in the "old" days.

    I remember the days before public unions existed when friends, relatives and campaign donations decided who got the government jobs and promotions.

    Political patronage (donating to the party in power) kept you employed where the wrong political yard sign in front of your house could get you fired or demoted, changes in party affiliation of a newly elected mayor also resulted in a different fire chief, police chief and a total shake-up of management, supervision and job assignments.

    Do we really want to eliminate unions and go back to a time when elected officials had all the power with no accountability?

    February 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Joe R - Houston, TX

    There's no need to reduce the power or salary of public labor unions as long as Bernanke is in charge of government employee benefits. When other countries look behind the curtain and begin to laugh at the dollar, we might have to rethink that logic.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  8. KCLaw

    With the Citizens United decision, working people need the same clout from union money to put out messages and support middle class oriented candidates as the big corporations now enjoy with their candidates and causes.

    To strip the power of unions is to remove the one last voice that has some parity with the mega corporation/Wall Street message.

    Which is the real reason the GOP politicians are focused on this "issue."

    February 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  9. Conor in Chicago

    Once our corrupt Supreme Court reverses Citzens United, which renders American Democracy meaningless, then maybe we can start this conversation. Until that happens I say keep protesting, stall the US economy, bring it all down if necessary. We currently don't have democracy so I say restore it any way possible as allowing the status quo to remain will not achieve that.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Russ in PA

    Reduced? No, Public labor unions should be abolished all together. Even FDR realized that public unions are a scourge on the land. End them now. In fact, why don't we end them along with so many useless government departments and entities? The country would be so much better off...

    February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  11. Cheryl in Bluffton, SC

    A unionized public employee, a Tea partier, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

    February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  12. Bradley, Portland, OR

    Actually, I think the power of corporations needs to be reduced.

    Unions are the only check on unbridled corporate power, and that's why the Koch brothers are financing efforts to destroy unions.

    The "prank call" where someone called Scott Walker pretending to be David Koch told the real story of who's behind Walker's efforts to bust the unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    I'm not an authority on public or private labor unions so I'll express my thoughts from 'where I stand' as a tax paying pay as you go person.

    There are several large strong Unions in the private sector and you see the employees of the companies that are in these unions making much better wages than non-union jobs doing the exact same work. 'GM' employees in my opinion is one of the things that caused them to go broke -and they had no regard for the company just their own greedy selfish selves.
    Cummins Engineering is another example where employees would brag about getting large hourly wages and not doing anything all day.
    When you hear this kind of talk you know "somebody" is getting screwed!

    I was a teacher and tenure meant everything to some teachers. They knew they couldn't be fired. As a member of the teachers union I felt guilty, because I knew some of them weren't worth the gun powder it would take to blow them away!

    There is a balance or equilibrium 'in everything' and when one side tends to out balance the other all hell breaks loose-most times later than sooner!

    You've heard my opinion and you can see it is biased to some degree, but on the other hand if unions hadn't been established large companies would overrun employees. It's a balancing dilemma that evidently will never end!

    February 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  14. roseann

    I think it already has been Jack..without the right to sit down and bargain there is nothing left..they have already conceded all things monetary..will we all go back to the days before unions?No overtime pay no sick days..i have even seen in one state that they want to lift the child labor laws..is this really where we want to go?

    February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  15. David , Laguna Niguel CA

    Since they use the dues collected from members to fund the campaigns, and their members to man the campaigns, of the very public officials that approve their contracts, I would say yes they should be limited.OR the public officials remove themselves from the negotiations and votes due to conflict of interest. It seems ironic that that since they are paid with tax dollars they are basically using our (the tax payers) money to influence our elected officials so they can get more of our money in the form of higher wages and pensions

    February 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Mark from Voorhees, NJ

    Though it seems like a lot in aggregate,Public unions have limitred funds to advocate their positions considering that they represent millions of people. Corporation have unlimited money, as well as false front groups such as the Chamber of Horrors, oops I meant Commerce to advocate theirs, and they represent a comparitive handful .5-!.5% of Americans. And of course they have the Supreme Court in their corner, so the fix is in. Shameful. Talk about its not the America I grew up in.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  17. bob z fr ,pa.

    yes the money they pay the unions could go for there pensions

    February 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  18. kenneth mathews

    No Jack, Unions brought us out of slave labor, now that unions are being iliminated we're going right back into slave labor.
    Sonny in Arkansas

    February 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    I worked twenty years for my union (high school teachers) as Chief Negotiator and President. In that time I saw many jobs saved and decent salaries, benefits, and working conditions established. Three times teachers were successfully defended against false accusations of sexual interference from students angry at them for bad grades. Bad employers make unions and, without unions, work is indentured slavery.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  20. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I think the power of unions have already been reduced. Taking away their right to bargain is a bad thing. It was the unions [which I am not a member] that stop the sweat shops and made the workplace more safe. When the unions were powerful you had to call a carpenter to have a board moved out your way. But those days are over. If it was up to the republicans they would have us going back in history working when there were no unions and middle class, working at Chinese wages.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  21. Eric

    Absolutely, while private sector workers should have the right, though not the obligation, to join a union and have the union negotiate on their behalf, public workers should not. Nor should these organizations if they are allowed to exist at all be able to strike or to engage in political activities.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  22. RickFromDetroit

    Over the years I have belonged to 5 different unions and the only benefit I received was paying union dues for the benefit of someone else.

    They can shut all of the unions down as far as I am concerned, public & private sector, and then impound their pensions and move the money to the SSA Trust Fund so the people who paid into the funds receive their benefits., but the pension funds in this country are like everything else, "Organized Crime" has turned them into their own personal extortion ring.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  23. Gloria from Greenwich

    Mandatory dues. In Pennsylvania the SEIU wants to maintain its ability to have workers fired for failing to pay union dues. Inciting violence. Eddie York's killing. Beatings and killings. Yes, the power of the public unions should be reduced, and their leaders should not be visiting the White House everyday. It might look as if the President is OK with this type of criminal activity.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  24. Gary H. Boyd

    The answer comes in two parts Jack. Unions should be able to negotiate salaries but not benefits. The two are distinctly different. Private companies have to negotiate both with unions as best they can afford. Public employees compensation on the other hand comes from taxpayers who are not a party to the negotiations so there is a decided difference. Bottom line - salaries "yes", benefits "no".

    Gary Boyd in Scottsdale, Arizona

    February 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  25. Lynn

    Absolutely not; the Koch Brothers are behind this – the unions need their collective bargaining!!

    February 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  26. Richard McKinney, Texas

    I think Unions have outlived their usefulness in America. At one time when a person could simply be fired at the drop of a hat with little or no recourse Unions were beneficial. With laws today that basically Ban any type of discrimination in the workplace or firing people without just cause there are no longer valid reasons to continue with Unions. Only about 13 percent of all employees in the United sates are Union members and that number as the job market shrinks will become even less. Companies are becoming leaner and meaner and Unions drive the price of products up so much that companies can no longer compete. Unions will go the way of the dinosaur.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  27. chris

    yes they need to gett he same treatment as taxpayers get and mostly nothing but a little pay check

    February 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  28. francap

    The Unions need to be strengthened. The workers of America have been vilified for everything bad that has happened. It is the rich, corporate bosses, wall street, the banks, and the rich Republicans who cater to the wealthy that have caused this mess. Remember Bush/Cheney took over a great economy and turned it into a near depression.

    Middle class workers should not be fooled by the lies of the Republicans. Don't vote against your own best interests.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  29. Mike in Brooklyn, NY

    No way Jack. Without Unions it will be 'divide and conquer' of employees everywhere. Large corporations have exploited workers for decades. And they've always hated the fact that people banding together have enough "collective" power to go toe to toe with them and demand that they share the benefits of their labor.
    The Koch brothers have bought Scott Walker. They are interfering in the politics of Wisconsin. Their behavior is a clear example of how the very powerful corporations, use their size to buy influence and control politicians like Walker.
    Unions did not come about in a vacuum, Jack. There is a very real reason why they exist. How about child labor laws; OSHA, and the EEOC? Why are they needed? Did you ever see "ON THE WATERFRONT"? HOW ABOUT "NORMA RAE?" What about that old song "Sixteen Ton?" Are these works of art just fanciful ideas without any basis in fact? Absolutely not.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  30. Paulo - Oregon

    It depends upon which side of the lesser-of-two-evils equation you're on. Politics is a zero-sum game: when you reduce labor's power you increase government's. I'll cast my lot with labor. Unions don't get us into foreign wars, bail out wall street bankers or build bridges to nowhere.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  31. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    The unions as a whole served a very good purpose for many years but need to go by the wayside. They create a great deal of tension between companies and employees as well as a high cost for both sides.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  32. Sylvia from San Diego

    I live in San Diego and I am one of the "Private Sector" taxpayers who is paying for these "Public Servants" so that they can retire at age 50 with a guaranteed retirement payout of 100% of their earnings... Meanwhile, I can not retire until I am 65 and I have to contribute into my own 401K and Social Security for my retirement. Thanks to the unions, just about every state in the union is broke! I hope they all get outlawed (and soon....

    February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  33. Tina Tx

    No. People do not realize that if they get rid of unions what a mess things will be. They will never get a pay raise & will pay all their healthcare. The need to go back and read history of how the rich treated their employees before unions took hold. I think some changes could be taken place like you work 20 yrs and you can retire at 48 and get 100% of your salary plus all the overtime you have worked in years past. This type of deals must be changed or the states will always be broke but I also think that the voted senators should also take a pay freeze and quit sneaking in a pay raise in the middle of the nite.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  34. Jim, Citrus Springs, Florida

    Absolutly, either less power to the union or more taxes for all.!!

    No brainer, kick the bums out.


    February 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  35. Craig R. McNees

    tampa, fl Honest labor unions work with management, with the books open. No profit means cut backs and concessions on labors part. big profits means everyone shares by getting living wages, health care, retirement programs, etc. No unions means illegal aliens working for less than minimum wages and benefits only for management only. We need to take a lesson from Egypt and Libya and throw out this dysfunctional government of our own.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  36. Ed from California

    So now we're down to every man for himself! We did this all to ourselves with the way we vote! "We" vote in these teabagging Kochsuckers and you think they are going to look after your best interests. Did they? Your jobs have been shipped out the country. And now you realize that that the public sector workers are the only ones left working, and your jealous of them.These are the very same jobs that no one wanted in the first place. By the way a lot of the public jobs require a college education, teaching degree, engineering degrees, accounting, law, medical and nursing just to name a few. In most of these cases these people are taking less in wages just to get the benefit packages, that maybe better than the private world. If these people were smart they would all quit and go private with those jobs that they were doing. Then you teabaggers will really see the true cost of government.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  37. Tracy Roberts

    Are you kidding – Jack!
    The power of unions is our last hope in our pretense democracy. Thanks to the politicians and the Supreme Court, our hollow claim to democracy is fading fast. Jack, in this country it was always the responsibility of the ruling class, (big business and politicians) to at least pretend that they believe in democracy but now Jack it seems that they’re tired of pretending!

    TL – Felton, PA

    February 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  38. se in fl

    No, Jack. It's an American tradition. Unions are part of what made this a great country. As unseemly and overly-demonized as the Unions are painted, they are unfortunately all thats left to defend against a total take down of the middle-class, which their very existence helped create. And all the God bless America corporate propaganda in the world won't bring it back once the corps get their claws on the last remaining crumbs of this nations wealth.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  39. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: The real point of collective bargaining is the idea of fairness inherent in democracy. Without unions, large corporations have an unfair advantage in hiring individual workers. Workers have to take what is offered, a fair wage for work done or not. Unions help to even the playing field, enabling workers to have a fair chance against wealthy, powerful large organizations - whether corporations or governments-what is happening is not the reduction of the power of union-but rather "killing them"--and making this country more conservative on every issue--and reducing, changing and defunding the Democratic Party. If Democrats do act strongly, American life will become unrecognizable in a remarkably short time.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  40. Pat in Michigan

    As a retired union worker I must say is all fairness that some things Labor unions have done have been excessive.However no unions caused the housing bubble or the banking scandel or the wholesale theft of the baby-boomers life savings from the stock market. I have seen no ebbing of their power or effective controls on them as well.
    Stripping unions of collective bargaining is a recipe for abuse of power not seen in America sing the start of the industrial revolution.
    How will slave wages cure the problems of the working class?
    If you think the housing forclosure rate is high now try making your bills on minimum wage .

    February 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  41. Paul P.

    Not really. Much like we say in government that an effective opposition offers the proper balance of 'checks and balances', why would that philosophy change in the working world? While I agree that unions, much like corporations, can get excessively greedy, eliminating them tilts everything in favor of business, no one is left to keep them honest, and the working man loses what little leverage he has left.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  42. Patsy, Texas

    I know very little about unions, but this Wisconsin mess smells like
    old tea bags to me. By not including police and firefighters, like they
    did in Indiana and Ohio, the Govenor's hands get dirty. The Unions
    agreed to pay more for their health insurance and retirement benefits
    to help deminish the budget short fall. But this is not good enough for
    the Governor, thereby creating a highly suspicious political agenda.
    I think the Koch Bros/Tea Party power needs to be reduced
    drastically. Thank you.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  43. Jayne

    No. People who are in favor of this apparently do not realize that they have been impacted positively by workers organizing, even if they themselves do not belong to a union. Unions are responsible for things such as the 40 hour work week, overtime, vacations and other benefits that most people take for granted when they apply for a job. Eliminating unions will only speed up the race to the bottom for the majority of the population. And the rich will get richer. By the way, I've never belonged to a union.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  44. Richard C.

    The unions have become a drain on state and local funds. They need to come back to reality pay for their medical and pension benefits in line with the majority of American workers. As far as teachers are concerned, most are overpaid for what they do on a daily basis. Look how many of them make $75m or more, per year and they feel they are under-paid. The proof of this is the continuing fall in grades in this country.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  45. Marina Soukas

    No, their power should not be reduced in any way that would open up the door to break the unions in this country. We once were a nation with a strong viable middle class brought about by labor. No labor unions, no middle class. We're drowning out here in the land. Enough!

    Lancaster PA

    February 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  46. Tim

    Absolutely, I am a federal employee and our collective bargaining rights were taken away along time ago. Also, Obama had no problem freezing the wages of federal employees for 2 yrs(excluding Congress) and I cant remember the last time we were given the complete COLA. This is never mentioned on any of the so called news networks.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  47. Cal (Maui)

    We cannot just arbitrarily reduce the unions power and control, they are after all looking out for their own best interests and have negotiated albeit in the name of their members but the unions get their money based on how much they get for their members then they inturn raise the dues which pays the union leaders more. Negotiated settlements has been the rule over the course of many years and many Govenors. Now the pendulum is swinging back to favor the tax payers which will then force new negotiations the ball is now in these Govenors court's let's see where this will take us

    February 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  48. Peg from N.Y.

    No! The government can try all they want to unempower public labor unions. Ultimately, it is the people who have the power. Example, Egypt. No one should underestimate the power of the people, Jack.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  49. Paul, New Port Richey, Florida

    There should be no public unions. The very idea that the union negotiates with the people they elect is corrupt beyond the pale.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  50. Stella-Northern New York

    No their bargaining power should not be reduced. If you are against unions and would like to go back to the old days when the work force had zero rights, then be prepared to work 12 and 16 hour days without overtime. Don't forget the hourly minimum wage would also go down the drain. Does $2.00 an hour make you happy? NO retirement plan,NO health care,NO vacation time,NO sick leave time,NO social security,NO workmans compensation if your hurt,NO anything at all for you except work until you drop dead. The wages and benefits you enjoy today were hard won FIRST by union members. I hope you union haters understand all workers had NOTHING before their existence. Keep trying to eliminate them and you'll go back to having NOTHING. Is that what you really want???

    February 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  51. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    Unions are the finger nails the middle class is using to clutch to the edge of the cliff. If the middle class goes, America's quality of life is history.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  52. Rob in Brooklyn

    no. but the power of the House & Senate & their corporate handlers should be

    February 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  53. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Certainly not by government fiat, Jack! Union membership has been steadily declining over the years and if unions are no longer needed in the 21st century the conservatives would have been smart to let them disappear on their own. But NO! They were impatient and may have ironically saved the unions they were trying to eliminate by over-reaching with their newly elected authority. Yes, elections have consequences, but most American don't favor radical change in either direction of the political spectrum.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  54. Kevin of SD CA

    When the Public Labor Unions can dominate local, state, and federal elections to the point where they elect 80% of our elected officials I would say they have too much power!

    In San Diego, Ca the Public Labor Unions have elected 7 out of 8 Councilmen and the Mayor; and over the last 30 years this has bankrupted the City!

    These liberals make a living off of creating their own job security not getting things done! No wonder the schools are failing, we keep building more and more prisons, and every time we have a major fire we are short men and equipment because the morons are spending too much on entitlements!

    Got it yet?

    If Public employs were forced to be accountable for their end products we would see more efficient budgets each year rather than growing deficits and a roller coaster economy run by leaches and parasites even in Family Law!

    February 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  55. Mike

    No I don't think so even though I've never been pro-union. Let's not forget 100 years ago we had child labor, sweat shops and people working 6 day weeks for peanuts. The changes that came about weren't from the goodness of the business owner hearts it came about because of unions and public outcry over the deplorable working conditions in America at the turn of the 20th century. What is to stop current owners or Governor's from turning around 100 plus years of progress for the common-middle class person who works for a living and reurning us to the early 1900? If budgets and pensions are out of whack then sit down and reform the programs don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's not forget pensions and benifits aren't the ONLY thing causing budget problems....

    February 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  56. David

    Yes, but it will be difficult. Dues paid by public sector workers are now the major source of funding for the union movement, the union executives will fight hard to protect these revenues.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  57. Jackie

    Come on Jack! We already know Walker is corrupt, he was nice enough to show it to all of us himself. Let the working people keep their unions, their collective voice, they are willing to give up everything else. Solution is to get rid of the Governor and everyone in that legislature Dem/Rep who did not speak up in the land of cheese and say we've got a RAT in the house
    I am proud to be an American watching those workers, I have yet to see someone with a gun, or carrying a racist, hateful sign, you know I think that is what a peace protest is all about!
    Huntington Beach, Ca

    February 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  58. Chris from NY

    Not if I am going to hear about constitutional rights. Every day the Republicans talk about people's right being trampled upon. I guess it only applies when they think it's theirs and not someone else's right that is trampled upon.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  59. L. Desjardins

    Reduced to what? Is the deficit fight only on the backs of workers?
    Do profitable companies and wealthy people have any stake in this fight?
    If reducing bargaining rights and taxes is the answer, then the "trickle down" folks had it right. Right?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  60. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies looks at the Tea Partier and says,"look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."

    No, the unions are the only voice that the working people have remaining. Without a voice for labor, there is no democracy.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  61. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    reduce the power of public labor unions ?
    Probably so!!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  62. lou

    Should the power of the state government be increased? Because that's what will happen when they bust this union. This whole thing makes me sick. We don't blink an eye to pay out 500 thousand a year to university coaches plus lucrative pensions. But we argue for weeks over whether a public education teacher makes too much? Unbelievable.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  63. Simon/Orlando

    Just the government unions. The fact that the tax payers are paying for their union dues, a portion of which goes to political contributions to the Democrat party to the tune of $40 million last year is appalling. The Democrats are buying votes by supporting the unions to get their grubby hands on our money. The government unions adversary is not a company, but the tax payers of america. When they strike, they strike against American citizens who pay for their salaries and bloated benefits.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  64. Norm

    Many talented people do not get the proper opportunities because of the strength of unions. If they were dismantled though, businesses would fill the void with unreasonable work demands.

    We need a balance in this country where business benefits, unions benefit and independent people who just want a job that uses their talents and skills also benefit.

    Right now, no group is happy about the way the situation is being managed.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  65. Eve Lemon

    Only when the super rich stop running our nation. Many people dislike unions and their past and present abuses, but these abuses do not compare to the blatant buy-out of our congress by the super rich. I fully support unions because they have been responsible for maintaining what little middle class we have left. Eve of Texas

    February 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  66. Larry,Springfield,Ohio

    Jack,no,the power of public unions should no be reduced,public unions should be abolished completely, at the same the crooked bankers and wall street crooks are hauled off to jail!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  67. Rick

    Absolutely not. If anything, it should be increased to counteract the rightwing attacks currently affecting all working people in this country.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  68. John .......... marlton, nj

    Yes, public labor unions have gone beyond 'collective bargining' to holding taxpayers hostage. The most recent 'insurgency' in state capitals (ie Wisconsin) is no less than financial terrorism that circumvents our 'voting/electoral' process. Lastly, now is the time to address not only the value of public unions but the actual productivity of civil servants. Do we begin by the evaliuating productivity of state DMV's , do we look at Post Office performance, how is policing/crime in Detroit and Camden NJ, and lastly if recent studies (done by states) declare that as many 50% of urban public school graduates can't pass high school proficeincy tests, why should taxpayers be not only entitled to "reconstruct" the education system but also seek damages from teachers and administrators that enriched themselves from salaries and didn't deliver. Shouldn't they have to refund some of their salaries..

    February 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  69. Loren, Chicago

    The power of public unions should be reduced in the same way that it was in the private sector – through collective bargaining and the power of unemployment. Doing it through fiat is counter to American democratic principles. While voters have voted for this change, they also put themselves in this position by continually voting for candidates who bent to union demands.

    This edifice of public sector unions wasn't built in a day, and to try to bring it down in a day is morally wrong.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  70. Louis Patyk

    In a word, NO!!! Here is why, a little lesson in history.

    History 101

    I will let Martin Luther King, Jr. answer for the public workers in a speech he gave when he was in Memphis Tennessee. He gave this speech the day before he was assassinated attending the sanitation strike. He said “Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly, somewhere I read of the freedom of speech, somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.” Why should the public employees of give up these rights?"

    On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor Day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Unions were outlawed by Adolph Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike were abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using
    Hammer's state police."
    Louis Patyk, La Salle, IL

    February 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  71. David in Mississippi

    Anyone can be fired for just cause. The union has shot itself in the foot over the years by protecting less than the best of employees. The only real barganing power a union has is to offer the best, well trained workforce so that the employer sees the value in keeping them on. Unions used to police themselves, it fell apart when all they wanted were dues paying members. The unions need to clean up their act and then employers will come back around to seeing their worth.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  72. john - GA

    Absolutely!! I have two teachers in my family and neither of them have bargaining rights. Their pay scale and insurance rates are set by elected officials and that's the way it should be. Unions should have been abolished years ago. Take a look at GM's employee history and you can see what evolves when a company is being run by Union bosses.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  73. Ali from Arizona

    Collective Bargaining rights should be taken out, and instead all pay should be based on performance. As for Unions themselves, new workers entering the public sector should NOT be forced to join a union in order to work for the government agency they are working for. They should have a choice of joining the union.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  74. Herman Portland OR

    Yes I think they should be restricted to have less or none collective barganing rights. I am not an expert on this but think that if the states that have this option they are slowly being finacially starved out of cash. The cash comes from the tax payers and if they public employees are getting more benefits and salary. This is more of a sign up for gauranteed benefits. If this helps with the budget I say public employees come on in the water is fine.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  75. Dave, Orlando, FL

    I tend to despise labor unions, but they are a necessary evil and their power needs to be balanced with the ruthless businesses that are trying to eliminate the middle class, a living wage and all the other gains labor has made over the last century.

    When will everyone understand that what’s left of the middle class has already been beaten into the pavement and has lost ground with the inflation Obama denies exists, stagnated wages and sharply rising taxes (except for business and the wealthy) in recent years, all the while profits soar to unprecedented heights along with CEO salaries. How long will it take to understand that we have given far more than our fair share of the burden and can no longer carry the wealthy and big business on our backs. It is time for their free ride to end and to have them give back what they took out of the economy and from the middle.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  76. Judy

    What ever happened to negotiation?? These people are not objecting to making concessions. This is just another assault on the middle-class by the republicans. The unions helped create the middle class, and the republicans are determined to dismantle it for political reasons. Labor is a supporter of the democratic party. When they are finished, we can only hope our country doesn't become a republican dictatorship. I wonder how many of the demonstrators voted for this joker.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  77. David in Tampa

    It's not that simple. While there have been excesses in the past that need to be addressed, union busting isn't the answer. Like political parties, unions work to improve the lot of their membership. Like contracts with management, contracts with some unions have been far too generous. Management has a hard job of running things; labor has a hard job in carrying out the objectives set down by management. Both sides are wrong on some issues and right on some issues. As someone long ago once said, "moderation in all things."

    February 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  78. Steve

    Absolutely not...Bail out the banks, and don't allow teachers, firemen, and policemen to negotiate thru a union....You guys are totally whacked out....

    February 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  79. david seattle

    seperate the paper pushers who make our govt stupid and discipline thier demands.. one should not get to keep job when lazy and late and sloth like... leave the teachers be...

    February 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  80. Kea from Honolulu

    I find it funny that Republicans are shouting to the heavens that Health Care was shoved down our throats, and in the same breath, they're doing the exact same thing with union worker rights.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  81. raingirl2

    Jack the answer is not just no but "Hell No" This government must stop playing mind games and start telling the real truth about where the "fat" is you won't find it by destroying the Unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  82. Robby Bowling

    Once you understand that leader of the AFLCIO talks with the White House and is on the phone to them everyday (TRUMKA & he admits this) then you understand the protest are bought and paid for and the unions are the single largest contributor to the DNC . They are buying influence. Fighting for what is yours is one thing, fighting at the expense of the country is different.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  83. Jane (Minnesota)

    No, I don't think it should, Jack. I am a private sector, non-union employee. I see a very bad trend developing of the big Coporations such as KOCH Industries not having anyone to watchdog them – the politicians they back in the elections such as the Wisconsin Governor won't! I personally want to have employees have the right to bargain collectively – even the public sector. Why allow only one side to be greedy at the expense of the other?????

    February 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  84. Jonathan

    Well Jack as a future teacher and student at one of the fine Universities in Wisconsin, it seems my career will end up being more of a public charity than a job. Apparently Walker and his fellow tea party see teachers as greedy and lazy. Some of the most inspiration people are teachers and the moment we throw away our future is when we put teachers as second class citizens. The this bill will only benefit the rich Koch brothers who will gain state run power plants and continue their war on the middle class whose only defender is or was Unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  85. Rick, Medina, OH


    The whole point of unions and collective bargaining is to level somewhat the respective negotiating strengths of management and labor. Nearly everyone with a job today is a beneficiary of the hard fought battles of organized labor over the years. Unions are in steep decline in part because workers often now receive the wages and benefits unions made happen without the need for membership. No doubt, public unions will need to make steep concessions. (That's all about money, and likely solvable.) But to reduce their collective bargaining rights is about politics, and that's what the fight is really about.

    Medina, OH

    February 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  86. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    They are an outdated concept. The President should make us a right -to-work nation, but since he gets all his campaign money from his union cronies, I doubt he will do anything but obstruct state politics. Unions long ago ceased being about improving working conditions and making a fair wage. They are now to a point where they generally make more money than their private sector counterparts with benefits and retirement packages that are unfathomable to private workers. We are living in a world where the workers live better than the people paying their salaries. It is an unsustainable dynamic and it is going to drag down the states just as it did the auto industry

    February 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  87. Donna from Wisconsin

    No! We–the workers of this country–owe our rights in the workplace to unions. Yes they need to pay more of their fair share with respect to benefits but not take away collective bargaining. Many municipalities here in Wis, WANT them to retain those rights. Our transit system in Wausau will loose 1.7 million dollars and have to reduce way down if matching federal funds are gone because of loss of collective bargaining. I am tired of the rich get richer and lets take away from the poor & middle class. Two classes exist now: rich & poor. Shame on Wisc and other Republican run states!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  88. Angela Savage Austin Owings Mills, Maryland

    If we are willing to take the risk to have or have not! Glass houses crack under pressure....what are you willing to risk when we leave it to beaver?.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  89. Kevin in CA

    Absolutely ... that way their standard of living can go down just like everyone else. After all, we're in a race to the bottom so we can compete with 50 cent per hour jobs in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. – right?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  90. Jerry Johns Creek, GA

    The power of public sector unions should not just be diminished the power must be taken away. Public sector jobs are created to serve the interest of the people. That service is not being provided through the efforts of the unions. The union objectives in the public sector is to create more union jobs. Unfortunately the best way to create more union jobs is by increasing complexity and duplicity in the jobs to be performed. The amount of duplicate work performed in various agencies is astronomical in scale. It was easy in the past just to blame ineffective leadership on the agencies and move on, after-all who did it hurt? Well, time is up. Government must start acting in a more responsible manner when it comes to job definitions and performance. Americans can no longer afford the free rides given to government employees. It is time to change the entire system and starting with unions is a very good beginning point.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  91. Birddog in Mississippi

    That's easy – no. First off, public sector workers make no more than private sector workers when you control for education level. Second, once you get rid of unions, there is nobody to speak for the middle class, while there are plenty of people to speak for the wealthy. There has to be some balance of power, and unions provide it. Lose the unions and you lose the middle class.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  92. Dennis north Carolina

    Every worker should have the right to bargain with their employer whether in a group or a national union. with that said, you also have the right to belong or not join a union otherwise the right to work state . these rules should be in every business, private or government should not make a difference. the governor of Wisconsin wants to crush workers bargaining rights which would put the workers in a form of slavery which is not part of our legal or morale code. he has the right to hire, fire or lay off workers but he can not stop bargaining.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  93. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Jack, we supposedly live in a country ruled by free-market principles, where competition is supposed to be viewed as the fire that purifies the economy. Yet, we allow labor monopolies to exist like tumors on the market, single-handedly destroying the institutions they are attached to. Look at the auto-industry, public education in Los Angeles and States like California and Illinois. Anything short of an amendment to the US Constitution that creates a national right-to-work will be inadequate to fix our problems.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  94. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    NO as long as they are will to negotiate responsably like the Wisconsin teachers have. they GAVE the Wisconsin government the "give backs" they requested.

    people have to remember that public employees over the decades have given up pay for security and benefits and NOW right wing ideologs like Scott Walker want to STEAL those benefits to give tax cuts to multi-millionairs.

    the budget "crisis" in most states wasn't created by public sector workers. it was created by those tax cuts AND/OR by the current recession lowering tax revenues like here in Nevada.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  95. Dan Sonnenburg

    Governor Walker should take a page out of Mitch Daniels' book in Indiana. He disbanded the public sector unions and we have been in the black for years!

    Indianapolis, IN

    February 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  96. David Shelly

    No they should not be reduced.

    You know I would love to know how much money the Governor of Wisconsin and all his other Republican buddies took from the big banks and the Wall Street mafia who knowingly particptaed in a criminal enterprise in the way they developed and packaged and sold thier toxic assets that ultimately bankrupted so many states?

    Why again are we allowing thes people to balance the books on the backs of poor working people?!?!?!?!?!?!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  97. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Tell me something Jack. How much do you get paid? How many hours do you put in during the week (and I mean Sunday through Saturday)? How many children are you expected to teach in a class room? Do you realize that teachers get paid on average less than the standard wage when you figure in all of the hours they work? It may seem that they have lots of time off, but most of that time off is planning lessons, doing grades and putting them in grade books, correcting homework, meeting with parents, and many other things that most people don't see happening. Without teacher unions (which is what your question is really about), nobody would ever want to teach for what the GOP would pay them.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  98. John D.

    There should be no public sector unions. These are service jobs thus the name "public servants". The private sector is where you bargain for benefits and other perks. It is a competitive environment with specific goals as opposed to preforming the rote functions of government.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  99. Tom Huntington, NY

    What is going in Wisconsin has nothing to do with any budget and everything to do with busting unions. The union already gave financial concessions. Walker doesn't want to just reduce the unions power. He wants to eliminate the union. If he gets away with it other Republican states will try and follow suit, followed by the corporations. If the unions so called power is reduced big business will steamroll over everybody.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  100. Arlene, Illinois

    Maybe the the public unions should reign in some of their
    demands but lets do it the right way and do it over the long
    haul. These people have performed their jobs and picked
    up our garbage, fixed our streets, taught our children and
    all of a suden we want to throw them under the bus.
    I know we must tighten our belts but let ALL Americans
    including Congress do our part. Guess I'll give up my
    pension and health care and start using the Emergency
    Rooms for free, get the picture.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  101. Kathie

    walker is trying to ram this bill down our throats, admits he will not budge and has taken a dictatorlike attitude. when walker talked to 'koch' the fiscal state of wisconsin was never mentioned! the unions agreed to walker's demands but walker will not admit this as it was only a smoke screento destroy unions. walker's ploy is purely politcal.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  102. Daniel from Chicago

    The power of labor unions should not be reduced. America was founded upon the principles of free speech. We need to live up to these ideals, and by getting rid of collective bargaining we are not. It is one thing to reduce they pensions of the public workers, but it is another to get rid of their right to negotiate.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  103. Gerry luimes

    One can argue with union's propensity to over-use power where
    possible; No argument can exist on Unions being accepted as a democratic entity. To use a sledge hammer instead of persuasion on unions-public,or non public- in a "democratic" country is an abhorable fascist tactic that must eventually,and dangerously lead to a travesty of democracy.!
    gerry at Edm.can.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  104. Bill from Clinton, Maryland

    Labor unions should not be reduced or eliminated. Republicans harp on that old message of unions keeping bad teachers in the classroom. But Americans keep bad congressmen/women in office too. It was a matter of time for real Republicans to come out of the closet and show there true colors and it's not Red, White and Blue.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  105. Nancy, Tennessee

    Taking away collective bargaining rights from unions is not about balancing the budget. It is totally political. The Republican governors are behind all this trying to bust the unions so that in 2012 the unions will not support Democrats. The workers in Wisconsin have agreed to the monetary concessions for Governor Walker's budget, but he wants to go for the jugular. Our unions in the public and private sector have served a good purpose to help workers get a fair shake. It's time to leave them alone.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  106. Richard McKinney, Texas

    I think Unions are outdated. Unions give people the illusion of job security while no Union can stop a company from going out of business and you losing your job if the factory closes. You may get a few months of benefits but when that Union runs out of money you will be standing in the unemployment line right along with everyone else and all those dues that you paid in will be thrown out the window. You don't make interest on Union dues.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  107. Ros - Illinois

    No. The workers have agreed to some cuts, but it is their right to have collective bargaining.
    Walker is wanting to make a name for himself by breaking the Unions.
    I say recall him when he has been in for a year, or whatever the rule is on that.
    If that state is so hard up, then they should not be giving tax cuts to the very wealthy.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  108. David Wise from Plant City Florida

    Jack, the power of the public unions does not need to be curbed what needs to happen is we need a system that allows them to negotiate on proper terms.
    Private unions negotiate against managers who are looking to give the least to the Unions and the Unions are looking to get the most for the people in them. This makes an appropriate balance so that neither side gets everything they want.

    Public unions however have more pull because their bosses have a special interest in making them happy to get re-elected.
    So what is the solution? There needs to be an Appointed (not elected) position in Governments that will act as a negotiator that will argue for the best interest of the state and not the unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  109. Jack Pine

    The Government Unions that are funded by the taxpayers, should indeed
    have better oversight, and should never have better wages and benefits than the private sector. However, unions in general are very necessary to our workers and Americans. One need only study the history of the Union movement in America, why it was needed, and what was going on before we had Unions. Slave wages, child exploitation, discrimination on women, and no safety regulations.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  110. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    Sure why not for every 2 or 3 Union members you cut short you can hire 1 more teacher makes since .

    February 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  111. TOM (INDIANA)

    NO AND NO! The corporation needs to pay the fair share of taxes and stop picking on the working and poor people. Now , I need to go to Indianapolis to protest.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  112. Scott Stodden

    Let's Face We Are Still A Struggling And Fragile Economy Who Can Afford To Have More Money Taken From Their Paychecks Right Now I Know I Can't. It's Just Sickening What Wisconsin Is Doing To Teachers And To Public Workers, I Do Feel However The Wisconsin Democrats Are Wrong To Leave The State And Protest-Your Elected To Do A Job And I Encourage All Wisconsin State Democrats To Return To Wisconsin And Do The Job Your Elected To Do!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  113. rex in portland

    A sound bite cannot answer this question, Jack. I am not altogether sure that it was the state of Wisconsin that gave labor unions the power of collective bargaining, and I am not sure that it should be the state of Wisconsin that takes that "right" away.

    From my own viewpoint – that of a public corporation retiree – I would be destitute today without the collective bargaining rights exercised in my favor over the last 35 or so years. I do not see the bargaining for wages, etc, as an evil, or even as a fault in the economy today. There was no law requiring the state of Wisconsin (nor any other state) to establish unfunded pension programs. Their shortsidedness is now forced upon their employees as a problem of their employees' making. This is ludicrous, unfair, and probably illegal. The solution is absolutely not in making a law, but in renegotiating (legally) and restoring equity.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  114. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Power, what power?

    For every labor contract, as with an individual contract such as you may have Jack, there was a management that agreed and signed the contract otherwise there would have been no benefits.

    It is a democratic right to belong to a Union, the right way is to go back and reopen the contract and seek concessions which Unions nearly always grant. It is a shame that these Governors are using a monetary fiasco that non-union management created over many years to inhibit this democracy and issue authoritarian control once again.

    Unions are the only remaining check and balance from returning to a greed based patriarchal system of yesteryear.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  115. Ralph Spyer

    Labor unions gave the American worker a 40 hour work week, health care ,a pension, a safe work environment, and dignity. Americans worker did not cause this bad econmy ,wall street did. Should American teachers learn to speak spanish, whould they be able to take the place of a father because the child father is in jail. This is just a blame game,well shame on you.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  116. Ken in NC

    The power of unions should not be reduced. Republicans side with Big Business and their objective is to make the rich richer. They take their business to China and make us pooer. Unions are the only thing we have protecting us.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  117. JasonP

    No, they should not be reduced. Aren't American workers taken advantage of enough? We live in a country where the rich won't accept a 1% tax hike, but middle class workers who break their backs day after day have to give up what little they have.

    Schenectady, NY

    February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  118. Bryan

    From Colorado

    Yes Yes Yes. Please stop these unions from taking hard earned non union employees tax money to pay wages and benefits that are in some cases twice of the non union tax payer. Non union tax payers
    are the majority in this country and its time to do union scale backs across the board in every state. If they want they can go hide out with
    the 14 lawmakers from wisconsin.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  119. Mattie Tolley

    NO, I live in a state that has a really negative view or unions but we need to review the history of the common folk in this country. There is a middle class because of unions and people fought and died to give us the rights as labor that we have. Now it seems the big business controlled Republicans have decided to break the unions. Who will protect the people then?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  120. Edgar Davila

    No, private sector union membership should be encouraged to bring back the middle class. Laws such as the Employee Free Choice Act should be passed and collective bargaining should be a standard way of doing business with this country's labor force, as we are who create the wealth.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  121. Gigi Oregon

    Absolutely not...If unions fail we will be reduced to a third world country by government and corporate America. What "We the people" need to do is read the early history of the call for unions in America. And find out how the American dream was built. Men and families who fought for safe work places and wages.

    We had better put our tax dollars toward education for our children and young adults before we become a third world country. History of America is not being taught in our schools. Labor and unions for fair wages built America.

    It still amazes me that our own government leaders greedily accept their socialized wages and benefits. And want to deny good benefits and wages for you and i, and our grandchildren, who will be paying of the War and debt of the President who went to war in the wrong country. We had better keep all unions strong for our grandchildren, or that debt will be carried continually from generation to generation.

    What we need to do is stop giving "We the peoples" tax money to foreign countries and pay down our debt. And cut salaries of our Reps in half and let them by their own benefits like they want "We the people" to do.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  122. Steven Higginbotham

    Absolutely not. If anything, public sector union power should be increased. These are the firefighters, teachers, police, in short, the civil society of our country. The builders of the future. In other countries they are attracting great teachers by giving them raises and high levels of prestige. In our country, we attack them as "freeloaders" and "bottom feeders." It's no wonder that our educational system is in trouble when we attack those who are most responsible for educating our children.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  123. Megan

    No. The fact that they are willing to meet with politicians and find places to cut costs shows that they are not abusing their power. In fact, it is the politicians in this situation that are acting like big whiney babies that will not stop crying and making everyone's life miserable until they get exactly what they want.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  124. John

    No, it is the private sector who has abandoned their employees and needs to move towards the benefits enjoyed by public employees not the other way around.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  125. Renee Peoria,Ill

    Reduced maybe. But everyone needs to look at the big picture. I'm not a member of a union so this doesn't affect me personally. But I know the history prior to unions (overworked, underpaid employees, no benefits, no vacations, child labor etc). Make no mistake, plenty of CEO's of major corporations would love to take this country back 100 years in time. More money in their pockets. Busting unions and taking away the right of collective bargaining is the first, and biggest, step to accomplishing this. So we all have to ask ourselves; do we want employment in this country to be more like it is in China?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  126. Ron in Ohio

    Yes the public unions have way too much power. If they were companies they would be call monopolies.

    If they had to compete, they would be bankrupt.


    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  127. Cee..... La.

    Unions have brought the American worker much good....the public employees union in Wisconsin agreed to everything but the clause that reduced their collective bargaining rights....and by the Governor and the rest of the Repubs not accepting this compromise it tells me they are union busting....... and guess what. when these overbearing fools get it done in Wisconsin it will spread like wildfire...... the GOP hate the Unions worse than Osama Bin Laden......and Oh by the way you can get rid of poor teachers with tenure, that is more GOP hooey.....

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  128. Cindy

    NO! Remove the unions and big business will have its way with the workers. We will be reduced to being serfs for the mega-rich. The middle class will be destroyed.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  129. DJ

    Yes. It is long overdue. Public sector workers enjoy protections that do not exist in the private sector nor in private sector unions. I don't understand this conundrum: unions and democrats want bigger government, but government workers need unions to protect their rights from what....big government?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  130. john

    Jack I listened how you phrased your question and I must object. The unions have already given up benefits, the question remains about the right to organize. By the way why is nothing said about the 15% tax cut to businesses in Wisconsin? Day after day corporations are stockpiling cash and yet do not hire. And look at the comments by 3M's CEO, it is clear they are just interested in profits.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  131. Albert Neal Milliron


    I think state employees should have the same collective bargaining rights as Federal employees. They have none for Wages or benefits. In 1978, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, backed by a Democratic Congress, passed the Civil Service Reform Act.

    Why should state employees have more rights than Federal Workers? It is called Civil "Service" after all!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  132. C. Jackson

    Simple answer jack, NO !!!! Why not continue with the DUMBING of america ! people need to realize the management will NOT PAY bennies to workers without union representation !.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  133. Shane

    Yes. I work for the state myself and I will be the first to say we have to much power that is doing more harm than good. It is not taxpayers who should face the burden of paying for our perks.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  134. Mike Berry

    Every state employee union in the country should be deprived of the right to collectively bargain except for wages. It is an insestuous system where unions support Democratic candidates and when they are in government, they give large raises, and benefits and pensions that aren't available to the huge majority of the American public. They are overpaid according to survey data, and then their benefits and pension are intolerable. Don't stop until unions have no collective bargaining rights.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  135. Dennis Deitelhoff

    There should not be a reduction in public unions rights. Nearly all private workers wages, working conditions and benefits are riding on the coat tails of the few unions that are left.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  136. Khristine

    No. Our country was founded on the theory of checks and balances and labor unions are a form of checks and balance between the people and their companies. They serve a purpose.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  137. John G.


    The problem with all of this is the lack of accurate reporting. The unions WILL AND HAVE made concessions- not well reported. Removing collective bargaining rights is inappropriate. My way or the highway is not negotiating. And the President wants our brightest and most able to teach or to protect and serve. Not likely if this stuff continues.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  138. Jack Beslanwitch

    let put in one word. NO. The unions in question already agreed to make the financial changes requested by the governor. This is a bald faced power grab by the governor to help gutt the union movement when they already have accepted the changes in the financial needs. Also, if he was so worried about the budget, why to he pass tax cuts on the most rich. This is an attack on the middle class to help the fat cats. His punking showed that the emperor has no clothes.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  139. Mike A


    When the states start to pay the public employees the way private union workers are paid then yes their power should be cut and they should have to contribute more to there heath care and retirement.

    In Florida the pay for state workers is in the lower 40-45 of all states and when the new Governor talks about the pay he always quotes the top pay scale. The mean pay in this state for a pulic worker is around $30,000. Can you live on that?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  140. Eileen


    The power to private unions should be restored to a greater level.

    If I understand what has been happening in WI, they union has agreed to all of Gov. Walkers demands. So, it begs the question....why is he and the Republican party so desparate to break the unions.

    I guess it's because the unions were born to protect the workers of this country. I have sat on both sides of the negotiating table, and there was a time when the unions asked for too much....but over the last few years they have given back in order to save the businesses for whom they work.

    It seems to me, Jack, the time to give more power back to the working class is NOW, and the way to do that is to bring back the power of the unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  141. John Schilling, Chanbersburg, PA

    Definitely. In fact there should be no unions in government. Period!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  142. Jason

    That's a BIG NO, Jack. Corporate power needs to be eliminated. This union busting, poverty inducing policy is paid for by the Koch brothers and other corporate dominance. Their agenda is clear. Gather more money and stow it away while inducing poverty on as many americans as possible. Disgusting!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  143. Rick F

    I support the right of teachers to organize. I expect the state to keep its promises to unions. To do otherwise undermines all citizens ability to trust government. If this union busting continues, will Social Security busting be next?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  144. Lisa

    After witnessing the out and out thuggery, and violence on the part of the Union supporters, I not only believe the Power of the Unions should be limited,, I believe wholeheartedly that Unions should be demolished and banned. The true colors that they have displayed are NOT pretty ones, for sure. They have shown themselves to be selfish, greedy and now, dangerous.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  145. KH

    Jack, in a word NO!!!!!!! These budget battles and deficits were created by the greed or wall street. After wall street messed up and we bailed them out for their mistakes including among other things creating these budget shortfalls, the Republican Party sees fit to further penalize the working class. Enough

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  146. Cheryl Jensen

    No, the power of public labor unions should not be limited. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it's evident there is a plan to squash the middle class. Meanwhile, I just heard about a banker getting a $350,000 bonus. The millionaire Koch brothers and their ilk must be laughing at the gullibility of the American public and their success at turning the middle class against the middle class.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  147. Karen

    Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. Let them join the rest of us who have lost our defined benefit plans, must pay for our own insurance (or a good percentage of it), must contribute to a 401K (401A) plan towards our own pensions with minimal or no contributions paid by their employer and rarely if ever, see a raise !!!

    Let them join the rest of the REAL world!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  148. Harold

    Jack, In Canada, it is the same thing. Many gov't workers brag about how much pork they get in their contracts and how they don't have to work hard... and we in the private sector have to pay for it. It's time to standardize what private and public sector workers earn. I am in support of cuts in unnecessary benefits for Gov't workers...they are spoiled rotten.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  149. Scott

    Unions were created because workers needed protection from their employers. It appears that the roles have reversed. Show me the last time a union protected its membership from anything other than malaise and their ability to make government or company efficiency a punchline.. The good old days for the good old boys are finished.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  150. Ann Berry

    No. People forget WHY the right to collective bargaining came into being: to counter the overwhelming power of big organizations–private 9(corporate) OR governmental. In today's America, where corporations ride high in the saddle and have much or most of government in their pocket, workers can't possibly get a fair shake unless they can bargain in groups.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  151. Tom Creely, Ph.D.

    Public service union members' greed is unconscionable in the midst of our economic uncertainty. They show a lack of respect for the taxpayer and are willing to sacrifice each other for small gains. Their grasp for the self harms the reach to help all concerned. Reaching for the greater good pays dividends which exceeds only what they grasp.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  152. Mark F

    What's the big deal? Governor Walker is only doing his job. The job the Koch brothers from Kansas paid him to do. And who cares about the small fact that the money for the pension funds of public employees is DEDUCTED FROM THEIR PAYCHECKS? And why care that Wisconsin's budget deficit is nearly equal to the tax cuts Governor Walker gave to the state's millionaires just before he declared the state had a budget "crisis"? Minor details, right Jack?

    BTW, are you aware the Governor is having the windows of the capitol welded shut today? No kidding. So much for democracy.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  153. GIB MASON

    Employees of the state are no different than employees of a corporation. They can both give benefits and TAKE THEM AWAY. There is no entitlements or rights to benefits. I remember my CEO of a large corporation telling us one time "We are not here to subsidise your retirement."

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  154. Mike Rosso Sr

    I beilive that collective bargaining agreements, especially in the Public Sector, are invaluable. They ensure that the rules are clear for managment and workers and everyone knows that these rules are clear and established. To suggest that workers in private sector who have lost good paying jobs and benefits and are forced to take lower paying jobs are actually NOW making similar saliries. If the benefits are not present these workers should clammering for benefits like that for themselves. The work is critical in the Public Sector and everyone is ignoring the Billions in tax cuts for the rich, again. That means someone has to pay. Outrageous!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  155. honest John in Vermont

    Big Business and the CEO's reaping salaries in the Millions of dollars per year would love us to go after the unions so they can make even more Millions each. If you look at who really takes the BIG Bucks look at the top of the food chain.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  156. Ben Adams

    Not reduced but rather refined. Create a criteria and testing system for the teachers themselves that will cull the herd of the problematic instructors and leave the deserving teachers with their rights for good reason.

    The Governors approach removes the rights of deserving public servants as well, which doesn't seem to be in anyone's best interest.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  157. Karen/Rhode Island

    Dear Jack,

    Thanks to the Legislators and protestors for their strong stand to protect the rights of Wisconsin workers and through this stand protect the rights of others. Yes, this is about Unions now but it also relates to all workers. If successful in making Unions irrelevant, the rights of all workers could become irrelevant. Beware - study history.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  158. Dale Luchsinger

    Public unions have no right to many of the benefits they now enjoy. Without significant union concessions, our economic situation will never improve and job opportunities will continue to languish. Terre Haute, IN

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  159. Bob Akimbo

    Unions should be able to ask for whatever they want. And employers, even public employers, should be able to hire whoever they want, union or not. Simple free market economics. I don't understand how this got so complicated.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  160. Jeff Durkee

    If unions can be broken in the public sector, this will further tilt the political playing field on behalf of corporate interests and their Republican allies. This will also silence one of the few remaining vehicles that advocate on behalf of ordinary people in this country.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  161. Cole

    YES! they have way to much power, especially teacher unions. In my school district the teachers union got a pay raise last year and this year are demanding an 8% pay raise. Its rediculous! Teachers unions will be the death of small school districts!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  162. Flyingwolf, Manchester NH

    My answer is a big fat NO! The unions are the working peoples' only defense against the oligarcy. The unions in Wisconsin were ready to concede to anything (especially wages) except the right to collective bargaining. The protest in Wisconsin is the beginning of working peoples' protest against the corporatocrisy that is threatening to turn anybody who files a W4 into a medieval serf.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  163. Jerry Northey

    We are being set up. If we (the public) agree to screw over this group of workers who bargained for and were promised these benefits. Then what will the public's recourse be when they come for our Social Security benefits

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  164. Wendy

    Hell no!. I've never belonged to a union, but people should have that right. This is still a free country, I think? It's OK to pay the same in benefits, but if they have someone who looks out for them in the workplace, more power to them. I know what it's like to have no one and it's not pretty!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  165. Gene Youngblood

    Yes. Public employee unions bargaining with other public employees has never, never made sense at any level.
    All their vested interests are on the same side. The two parties sit on the same side of the table!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  166. Donald Ainsworth

    I would say their power should be reduced only when Governor Walker and the state legislators also take pay cuts and pay more for their health plans! If people are going to be hurt from budget cuts it should be accross the board for every one in some way. Don from Ohio

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  167. Ray

    Jack, you have failed to tell the hole story. The Union workers have agreed to give back to help balance the buget. This none about taking workers rights to have a voice to their employer. The cost cuting to balance the budget should be shared. has the gov. Walker agreed to pay a larger share of his pension? thanks Jack

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  168. Jason Jentzsch

    Public unions need to be protected from the onslaught of the Republican Party. See "Inside Story"–the latest Oscar documentary. The fat cats in Wall Street created this-the little guy has to pay for their greed. They created it-make them pay for it.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  169. fred in boston

    absolutely not! we need unions to ensure a safe work place. Without them, big business essentially can run rampant over workers' rights. And let us not forget that Wisconsin's "deficit" is the product of Gov. Walker cutting a huge tax break to corporations. in doing so he turned a budget surplus into a deficit. Now he is using this crisis that is his doing as an excuse to bust unions. Need evidence? The unions have agreed to EVERY cost cutting measure Gov wants. This man does not want to solve a fiscal crisis. he wants to destroy unions to help big business and to help republicans win the next election.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  170. Frank

    Why is it that only 12% of the American workforce is unionized (majority public sector by the way) but the rest of the 88% do not need nor require union representation? Why the special protection for the select few when their total salary and benefits exceed that of their private sector counterparts?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  171. Pat from New York

    Jack, absolutely they should be reduced. The love boats' at port. Private sector employees have been without raises for years, we're contributing more for our health care, and pensions. I wish I could retire after 20 years with 80% of what my best annual salary was.


    February 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  172. Pat THompson

    The republicans will not be happy until we are all making minimum wage. If they were serious about deficits, they would tax the rich. This unfunded tax cut and two unfunded wars, republican started, are bankrupting the nation. Don't forget that Reagan, the Great Conservative, spent us into record debt. The only two presidents to reduce the deficit were Carter and Clinton.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  173. Gary

    What needs to be reduced is this nut job Govenor of Wisconsin.
    When I hear headline news about a crazy leader overstepping his boundaries, I'm not sure if they're talking about Libya or Wisconsin.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  174. stephen schneider

    The right to FREE Association under our Constitution is a fundamental right – with as much weight and import and the right to free speech and the right to freely travel. Free association include the right to form a labor union. Do you think your right as a journalist to FREE Speech should be Reduced? You are asking the wrong question.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  175. PeterK

    Absolutely, The employer, in this case the taxpayer, should offer a reasonable salary and if you want the job then you will get paid for what we offer. A lot of these people are overpaid and underworked! Thanks to the unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  176. luke

    Jack, the way you framed this question was biased. The fact is that for the last 10 years or so, union members in the public sector have been giving back with each contract–pay freezes, paying more benefits, etc. This is an effort to bust unions–period. If the public sector unions fall, quess who is next?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  177. Dennis

    Without a union, public employees will be treated like dirt and underpaid–supervisors will be getting rid of people at will and hiring their friends and relatives to form cliques.....all of which will lead to inferior employees and sub-standard services in a very short time.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  178. mountain man in NC

    Definitely the power of Labor Unions as it relates to public employees needs to be reduced. Expenses for salaries and benefits for public employees definitely outstrips similar expenses in the private sector. While it is important to treat all employees fairly, we must be realistic about what our governmental entities can afford.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  179. Dr. Zom

    Wrong question, Jack. The correct question is "what can be done to return power to the private unions?" This country was at its strongest and most prosperous when roughly a third of all workers were unionized and corporations had less power. Now perhaps 6% of workers are unionized, and the corporations grow stronger every year.

    Unions are the only counter-balance to corporate hegemony, and the human persons are losing the battle to the fictitious persons.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  180. Vincent Padula

    Absolutely.Not all public service employeeshave collective bargaining power. I am a physician and a large percentage of my practice is medicare.(rates controlled by goverment) Some months I could barely pay my overhead including malpractice,health benefits and salaries. When I retire I do not get a pension.Public servants do a great job and deserve support but please look around to the rest of the economy. If you could get a better deal somewhere else then by all means explore those options. It's not that great in other sectors.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  181. John Mc

    Jack, there is no need to eliminate hard-won rights to collective bargaining. The public employees in Wisconsin have conceded on wages and benefits. This is about Union busting. In states that do NOT have collective bargaining their employee costs are higher. So soon-to-be recalled Governor Walker's argument that Wisconsin needs this are specious at best and mean-spirited at worst. I suspect Walker has broken laws and should be prosecuted and if found guilty jailed. I think this whole mess will all backfire on the GOP and the the Tea-Party just like shutting down the Federal government will. They will be a quickly-gone fad. Good riddance.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  182. jim in Alabama

    This is a difficult question Jack. The reason it's difficult is that there was a time when unions served a valuable purpose in the country by promoting fair wages, benefits, insurance and tolerable and safe working conditions. They still do, but with the wealthy now running the country, they are just looking for an excuse to hire people at a non-livable wage with little or no benefits and who knows about working conditions to maximixe their profits without goiing overseas. This seems to be the Republican agenda since it's obvious that they were put back in office to do this very thing along with repealing the health care bill and cutting social programs for the elderly, disabled and poor. That's always been their agenda rather than creating new jobs.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  183. Alvin

    To take the organized people of unions and throw them back to the stone-age, so to speak, in an effort to close a gap in their collective debt, seems repugnant. The governor just gave $130(+) million tax break to corporations in his state and to put fiscal responsibility onto unions(middle-class) for the past bad management skills of their state leaders, makes no sense, although many have rationalized it. Labor unions, if you break them down will certainly close another communication link rendered by workers to talk to politicians. Today america has very few methods of communication with its government. Doing away or reducing the powers that be, may not be the best choice for america's middle-class.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  184. Sherry Hultzman

    If you could trust the government and private companies to to the right thing this issue would not be an issue. Taking workers back a hundred years is not the answer. Workers don't get to vote themselves a raise like politicians and CEOs. Unions are a necessary evil because greedy governors, CEOs and politicians don't play fair in the wage market.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  185. Marcie

    Absolutely not. The unions would agree to pay more for insurance, etc. to help Wisconsin recover. This is about bargaining rights, not money. The governor is posturing ( as is our Governor here in Texas with his no new taxes nonsense) for his Tea Party friends whom he hopes will help elect him to the Presidency. Let's be honest!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  186. Bob

    The teachers and their union have become a "sacred cow". They are too politically collected and out of touch with the taxpayers. We are broke. We can't afford teacher's contracts. They need to pay more for their own benefits and stop using our children as hostages!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  187. David Nova Scotia

    Yes Jack, then we here will all be on the same level as say China & India and yes Russia.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  188. Fran

    If any of the rest of us just took off from work (teachers to Madison and legislators to Illinois)–especially to the point of shutting down the company, we'd be fired! What a bunch of crybabies. The rest of us negotiate our own salaries and accept what our companies offer for benefits. Don't like it? Get a different job.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  189. tricia

    NO. Unions in the private sector have been decimated and by contrast the public sector unions have been better able to protect their workers.
    I think this stand is going to re-strengthen unions in the private sector.
    Unions are the only advocates left for middle class rights.

    By the way, describing the senators as "running away" is really a misrepresentation Jack. They are taking a principled stand in the only way they could to prevent a bad bill from being bulldozed through the senate.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  190. Fran, Michigan

    Absolutely not. Let's look at our political figures. They just write their own ticket and get the best health care, salaries and pensions, no matter how inefficient a politician they are. They also get to vote on it themselves and of course it passes. I challenge any one of them to give up their prize package and live on a Social Security check or small pension like the rest of us. Maybe they would have a different view of their constituents and be more compassionate!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  191. Chris Wilcott

    I think unions are a part of the efficient market. Those voodoo scientists, also known as economists, often describe the perfect market as one where individuals make rational economic decisions.

    While this is a far stretch as people are rarely economically rational, I believe, that workers banding together to fight for better wages and benefits is a perfectly rational thing to do. The fact that state governments are trying to tilt the field towards business just shows that the government now exists to serve corporations and not the people.

    The United States was founded by people banding together to fight a corrupt government and tyranny. Today the United States is ruled by the very same forces its founders would oppose today. It really quite saddening.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  192. SteveC

    No, workers should not be expected to make up the billions of dollars big business and Republican policies have cost America. Wisconsin’s governor is using a crisis to bust the only power workers have.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  193. Gary Cockrell

    The 14th amendment gives "personhood" to corporations. When unions put too much pressure on corporations they look for more favorable labor markets.
    States can't move so average people, who's wages and benefits are dwindling, find themselves squeezed by Public unions who hold State Gov. hostage through collective bargaining, especially for pensions, benefits, etc.


    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  194. Ken

    Hell no! It would not save a dime to stop collective bargaining. Cutting staff, making folks pay more into retirement, health care is reasonable. But this is another ploy by Republicans to socially engineer America...and the uniformed, uneducated, mean spirited followers think life will be better. I pray ALL public servants strike and see how they like that.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  195. Richard from Connecticut

    Public service unions should certainly have their wings clipped. The Wisconsin governor has it right. It isn't enough for the unions to merely acquiesce for one year. Their collective bargaining rights should be resticted to wages only. No tenure, no work rules, no reaching for managerial prerogatives. All legitimate labor demands have long been met by legislation. If they don't like it let them try their luck in the private sector.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  196. Nancy

    No! The power of the labor unions should not be reduced. Do you want the rich and powerful to have control over the poor and hungry.
    If anything the unions should get more stronger.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  197. Overby from Melbourne

    In Obama's speech this morning to the Governors he whined and pouted that the teachers shouldn't have their health care taken away, then a few minutes later he was defending his stinking ObamaCare plan saying that now health care was available to everyone at an affordable price. Why should the taxpayers pay for teachers health coverage if it is or isn't available to them at an affordable price? They've been pampered and coddled long enough, let them buy their own coverage like most of us.....

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  198. Roger Forbes

    The real question should be why are big business (banks,wallsteet) allowed to act criminally without questions and you are afraid of the workers having a voice?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  199. Harry

    NO!–But the power of Wall Street should be abolished. Without unions it would be big business with slave labor. Jack the unions have now awakened. Thank you Scott Walker and the tea party for waking up the sleeping giant .Your job is done.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  200. eve howell-reiter

    No the power of public unions should not be reduced because the unions give the workers the power to negotiate for better working conditions and smaller classrooms, etc. And, in my opinion, teachers and state workers are not typically power-seeking persons so restricting their rights to make a better environment for our children and grandchildren and citizens generally seems an extraordinary effort without reason. We are in full support of the 14 senators representing these workers as they are right now.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  201. MArk

    Complete hypocrisy from government in general, especially Washington. Cut my benefits while you enjoy your golden medical and retirement packages. When elected officials start living like the rest of us, maybe they can begin to govern more consciously.


    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  202. Steve

    These are exciting times. The battles being waged in our state houses and city halls pose a simple question. Who will govern us, our elected representatives or union bosses?

    If we are to continue as a democracy, or more properly a republic, we must stand up to the extortion imposed by collective bargaining in the public sector and level the playing field between public and private sectors. To that end, “closed shops”, should be eliminated as they hurt the labor market and drive jobs offshore.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  203. Kirk Puuohau-Pummill

    You misrepresent the details of the issue labor unions have with the Governor's plan in Wisconsin. They have already agreed with concessions that affect the budget. The right of collective bargaining is unrelated. I am a retired newspaper worker, who has worked on both sides of the bargaining table.I am a CNN news regular viewer. Please represent all of the details and not a political agenda. I understand that this is YOUR opinion, but I'm guessing you have an agent who REPRESENTS you in negotiations. Right?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  204. Barbara Yarbrough

    Dear Mr. Cafferty,

    It is my understanding that the teachers in Wisconsin have agreed to all the cuts the governor proposed, yet you did not make that fact clear. The teachers are demonstrating for the right to keep collective bargaining. I've been a part of education for over forty years and have experienced times of abundance and poverty with regards to school funding. Teachers should not lose the right to bargain under any of these conditions. P.S. Teachers are easy scapegoats because everyone has attended school, but few have taught. It's not the easy eight to three o'clock job people tend to believe it is. More should spend time in their child's classroom.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  205. Jeffrey Hastings

    Absolutely. That whole "American Middle Class" thing was a bad idea. The sooner we get back to the Capitalist Oligarchy system, the better off we'll be. Meet you in the sweatshop–and don't forget to bring your young children. There's a lot of real work to be done if we want to make the wealthy even wealthier.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  206. Ken

    The only problem with weakening the power of the unions is that the concessions they concede when times are bad, will be impossible to get back when times are better. It's best that the sacrifices workers make to keep things solvent should be negotiated and conditional.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  207. John Bagala

    Jack, I'm curious why no one is stating the obvious. That the Republican Politicians are simply trying to break the Labor Unions whose ability to organize, vote, and raise PAC Funds have stymied the Conservative agendas for years. Weaker labor unions will also result in higher profits for the companies who employ them. For those private sector folks who are in the "Have Not" category, they should ask themselves why when they were asking for and receiving raises and bonuses, why the Unions were focusing on working conditions, job security, and planning for their future by focusing on pensions and retirement health care.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  208. Shane

    Why do Republicans constantly say that public unions are out of touch with the private sector and try to bring their compensation down to the lower lever. Why not work to bring up the private sector to be more inline with the public unions. What happen to raising people up instead working hard to bring people down?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  209. mary

    The unions are not perfect, but unions are only as good as their people allow. Unions set the standard for this country and raised us out of sweat shops. It is the difference (to put in simple terms) between 5.00 a day, or 5.00 an hour. Republicans are just ticked off because unions do not donate to their reelection campaigns. But, like walmart, if you talk union, you are fired.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  210. Steve McNew

    Cut our 'power"? No way! Rather, increase the power of unions in all of working America – maybe that way, we'd have less of business taking all the profits for the few, as happens today! By the way – We didn't cause the economic problem. Whatever we make, we tend to spend, thus benefitting the economy. More people, making more, would increase demand, thus create jobs. Triclke down never did that! And did we make the budget problem? Try taking out the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – funded outside the budget – and use that wasted tax money effectively, at home. Would we have such a problem? I'd bet not! Steve

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  211. Paul Dillon

    I do not currently see much of a difference between here and the middle east right now. The rich and powerful are running our countries and need to be controlled, union membership gives the worker a voice, a means to stop them.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  212. Becky Smith

    NO!!.Check our history Jack. The relative health of the middle class in this country has been and is directly influenced by the strength of unions, private and public. As the attack on unions has gained ground the middle class has lost. We need to reverse the trend toward attacking unions not continue it.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  213. Ken in Texas

    Jack, short answer is Yes! The rest of the story...Yes, if it is done like being tried in Wisconsin. The voters have spoken; placed Republicans in power; it is now up for a vote...which is the American process we so love. Shame on the Democrats (Wisconsin) that have taken their marbles and have run away to other states. Is this what we vote for...Wisconsin Senators get back to work. State your case and then have a vote. Another election comes up in 2012!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  214. Richard Oak Harbor, Wa

    In most states it is unlawful for public employees to go on strike yet when that does happen prosecution of responsible union leaders is negotiated away in final negotiations. If unions are expected to give up much will management sacrifices be equal? Public employee unions shouldn't be dismantled but given a greater voice in arriving at solutions. Management should participate in those solutions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  215. Vince Cami

    The fact that the taxpayers continue to pay for this obscene give and get by the unions and the Demoracats is obscene. Wisconsin is the beginning of the end. This unholy alliance is over.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  216. Bob

    28 years in a Federal Law Enforcement position provided an experience as both a union member and as a management negotiator. If the American Federation of Governement Employees (AFGE) can represent millions of federal employees, this same model should be used in state government. No, we could not negotiate wages and benefits. Only working conditions and rights to representation for employment issues. We also did not have to pay union dues unless we wanted to. I did.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  217. Rick Watts

    Like any source of power, unions too can be abused. That said, no private sector union has surrendered its RIGHT to bargain the wages, benefits, or working conditions (at least where they've not been busted, intimidated, or "out-sourced" out of existence.) Had organized labor (and Ross Perot) been heeded in warnings over ratification of NAFTA and admission of China to the World Trade Organization–along with it's 1 1/2 BILLION potential workers–the United States would not be in the precarious financial situation we find ourselves in with a crumbling manufacturing base, infrastructure, and ballooning debt.

    The power source that needs to be reigned in is WALL STREET, lobbyists and the money that has corrupted the American political process! And the sooner politicians finally realize that and take it to heart, the better off we'll ALL be. In the meantime, let's not pretend that teachers, nurses, and other public workers don't provide us with real and valuable services. And at least they spend their money HERE instead of investing it overseas like hedge-fund billionaires.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  218. Cecilia

    I've heard a union member yelling about 'the governor greed and shelfishness' but the real greedy and shelfish are the unions that want the public in general to give them some extra benefits that nobody else gets IN TODAY'S SOCIETY.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  219. Mary Mayo

    I definitely believe that the power of public unions should be diminished. Until public employees experience the same pressures the rest of us they will not participate in necessary reform.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  220. Horace

    Unions are, and always have been, unipolar in their interests. They exist for one reason and that is to enrich union workers. Eliminate that benefit and the union leaders have no job.

    The railroads, steel producers, and countless small factory unions enriched the employees and put the employers out of business. They have no cause to consider the employers plight,

    Employees have a choice, a job, or a dead road of continual self enrichment.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  221. Kathy Ann

    There is much more in the Walker plan than union busting i.e. cutting medical care programs such as Badger Care, allowing the governor to sell power plants with no bids. Wisconsin unions have agreed to pension and benefit cuts but it is Walker's and the Republicans goal to bust unions first in Wisconsin and then across the country that has to be stopped. Studies have shown that public and private unions do not differ significantly in benefits. The union bashing pitting union and non-union citizens is a Republican ploy that is working. If the middle and lower classes in
    Wisconsin think they will benefit from this bill in Wisconsin – and then across the country – they are naive. Walker and other Republicans pander only to the very rich. Bottom line is that the question does not take into account all the twists and turns of the bill and the lies behind it.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  222. Larry

    Absolutely not. The issue is not budgetary. Most unions have given up wages and benefits. This is about Republicans trying to destroy unions that raise money for Democrats. Public unions are the biggest target, because they have been the most sucessful in the last 20 years.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  223. Dan, Albany NY


    Why should public sector unions be allowed to donate to political campaigns of the very same people they are negotiating with for pay raises?

    In the private sector, we call that a bribe.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  224. luke

    killing public service unions will not cure the deficit problem. this is a cheap shot for political gain.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  225. Craig in Denver

    Sure, if in exchange elected officials will give up the same 'collective' perks- like their standardized pay, health ins, etc. & be forced to find and/or bargain for their own pay & benefits. I imagine that if ur constituents determined your salary- you'd pay closer attention to their needs.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  226. eric in florida

    these unions are unfair to all taxpayers... especially in "right to work" states like here in florida. I've been in the workforce for more than 30 years, have my bachelor's degree, and can't get a job for more than $35K a year... and with no benefits. in florida we pay our taxes to support public sector unions workers... many of which who have no college education and are paid 2 to 3 times what I earn and full benefits on top of that.
    explain to me how it's fair to tax me for public union employees who are less educated or qualified than me to earn more money and get health and retirement security than I'll never get. I say either figure a way to get all of us a decent wage or get rid of these public sector unions all together. hardworking folks like myself here in florida have been tired of this for several decades now... either even the playing field or end the game!
    just my opinion...

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  227. matt

    The important thing to remember concerning collective bargaining and the rights to change employees benefits is the willingness of both sides, union and government, to share the responsibility. Any state, such as Texas, who doesn't have collective bargaining or union (free to work state) has a debt of over 26 billion dollars or deficit in their budget.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  228. James in Tennessee

    For a union to negotiate and come to a settlement in government or business is a good thing. If management does not set aside funds or have the means to adhere to the settlement then they shouldn't settle. I think it was mismanagement by the past administrations in Wis. that has led to big deficits, not putting the money aside to cover future liabilities, but rather using it to cover other shortfalls.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  229. Ann from Charleston SC

    Yes, their power should be limited. Unions have done a lot for workers, but they went too far when workers' wages were increased to the point where we can no longer compete in the world economy.
    I am the daughter of a man who had his own small business and he hated unions. I am also a retired teacher who never joined the union because I think teachers should belong to professional associations rather than unions. It seems to me that the unions damaged the integrity of teachers, especially when tenure was put into effect... but that is just my opinion.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  230. Charles V. Karczewski

    I say that they need to be toned down in their power, it's just a money making scam, they don't do anything for the mass workers only a select few. They never did anything for me when I had to join the carpenters union.Many were linked to the Mafia.

    Chuck from Valrico, FL

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  231. David Tiffany

    We need to get rid of public employee labor unions because, among other things their health insurance benefits are too good? Wait a minute, if we all paid a tax for Universial health care state and local governments would save that big expense. Let me know when the Republican party who currently makes the argument that everyone needs the current insurance system confesses that their central plank comes with an * (*does not include public employees, except congress). What will they do when private employers throw in the towel, stop funding health insurance benefits and it is "everyone for themselves" when it comes to getting insurance (*does not apply to congress)?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  232. Bill Mather

    Under no circumstances should we stand for this brazen attempt by the right wing and their corporate moneymen to break the labor unions in this country. Don't be fooled that this has anything to do with teachers salaries or pensions in Wisconsin. This is a concerted effort at union busting. If it were not they would accept the concessions that the union has offered and move on. The notion that these workers or any workers for that matter should be denied the right to collective bargaining is Unamerican and should be denounced as such. This is a political power grab plain and simple. Regardless of what you think of unions in general we should see this for what it is.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  233. Ray G.

    Why do cuts always come down to the "little guys"? Why not start at the top, where the executives get FULL BENEFITS & PENSIONS for life just for serving a couple years in public service?

    The unions are always giving up benefits every time theres a "budget problem". The private sector is the standard they use, but they no longer make a living wage.

    Lets start cutting the golden parachutes & salaries at the top, THEN if thats not enough, we can talk about the blue collar concessions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  234. Rod in Idaho

    The Unions are trying to stop the "good old boy" syndrome that is stiil strong in business and politics. They are trying to rid this country of the middle class and only the unions fight them. If you don't think the good old boys still run things come to Idaho and they'll show you how it is done.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  235. Kathleen Parker , South Carolina

    The bankers and corporations who ran us into the ditch have managed to decimate private unions and others in the middle class and now want to take on public unions so that no one can block their agenda. If you think these same people who have seen their incomes rise by 33% care any thing for ANY worker – think again. When unions go there will be no body to stand up for working people. The GOP is so concerned that unions might influence the people in power, but what unions give is a fraction of what the business community is giving to influence legislation -or do you seriously think that Goldman-Sachs and the Koch brothers are giving all that money and expect nothing in return!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  236. Joe in Twinsburg

    Absolutly, Is's big circle. The union s cut a deal with the Dems and the unions reelect the Dems. Bad for the rest of us, but it will end because the Union Bosses have been exposed. The only winners are the union Bosses with the states collecting their dues and they collect a big pay check

    February 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  237. m brown

    The public sector unions have way too much power. They are strangling the goose that lays the golden egg.
    Numerous regulations protect workers.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  238. Mark

    Instead of asking whether public labor unions should have their power reduced, why don't you ask whether or not people are fed up with corporate greed. That's right, corporate greed. Unions aren't hurting this country or this economy, it's corporate greed that's destroying this country. It's always labor–the working class that has to make concessions and accept wage cuts to keep their jobs. You never hear of upper management or ceo's taking pay cuts to help out. it's time for the working class to unite and say enough is enough. The filthy rich will never have enough money. It's time for the greed to stop!
    Okauchee, WI.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  239. Jen

    No, Jack, now is not the time to reduce the power. The union has protected people against nepotism and unfair labor practices and still does. Currently, I am working without a contract but it is not because we are demanding a raise. It is because our local board of ed wants to take away basic worker rights such as our right to appeal decisions. Our union protects us against unfair practices that nobody should have to put up with. This is more of the divide and conquer mentality. If anything more unions are needed to help the private sector people. Private sector workers had no problem with the situation while they were making a lot more money. Now, those of us who belong to a union have become the scapegoats! Most of us agreed to a contract, have held up our end, and now the government doesn't want to upheld their end! How is that fair? If the private sector knew more of what has been fed to them by politicians I do believe there would be more awareness as to why the unions are needed now more than ever!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  240. Terran

    The power of the Koch brothers should be reduced.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  241. Bill from Midland, MI

    I put your question back to you, why should public employee unions have their power cut.
    Your statement that teacher tenure prevents poor teachers from being removed is incorrect, tenure simply requires that due process must be followed in the dismissal of teachers. No more situations like a school board member has a nephew that needs a job, so lets get rid of that young kid we hired last year.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  242. AB

    Jack, the power of public sector unions to protect public employees' jobs, benefits and job rights should be preserved and expanded. In fact, the same applys to all labor unions, be they private, public, etc. These gains of workers were won through hard work and sacrifice and should not be easily surrendered. The Republican governors want more than just benefit and pay concessions from labor unions; they want to bust unions period!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  243. James


    The hypocrisy of the “conservative” movement is quite stunning. In one breath they say we want government out of our lives. In the next breathe they want the government they so dislike to tell ordinary American middle class workers how and when they can negotiate their employment. I thought they were supposed to stand for individual liberty but "conservatives" don’t want Union workers to have a fair shake at labor negotiations…..and they want the government to limit it. If they were to limit corporate negotiation rights there would be riots in the streets but it okay to limit middle class people?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  244. Bil form Dover Foxcroft Maine

    It is absolutely time to reduce the power of labor unions. State and federal enmplyeess should be on an euqal playing feild as the private sector. We all are paying more for our healthcare and other benefits. It is time that the collective bargaining methods change and adapt to a modern economy and that the leaders of these unions be recognized for what they really are, self endulgent criminals and thugs.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  245. Bob D Morristown, NJ

    The issue is not the state budget. The unions have already conceded all of the budget related issues. So the only issue remaining is union busting pure and simple. Public workers already accept lower than industrial level wages and salaries for additional compensation in the form of pensions and other benefits. If these are taken away willy-nilly without recourse or discussion provided by unions, what kind and quality of public employees can we expect to get in the future, when the economy may have improved.

    Recall why unions were formed to begin with. The greed and avarice of executives is part of human nature and has not changed over the years. If unions disappear we can expect the working middle class to disappear as well, and what we are witnessing in the now in the middle east can be a portent of what we may witness in our own streets when our masses can no longer afford food.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  246. Rob Benjamin

    Wrong question, Jack. The REAL question is whether or not public sector workers should have the right to negotiate on an even playing field for safe and healthy working conditions, for full compensation for ALL the hours they work, and for reasonable, not outlandish benefits. That's all the Wisconsin public sector workers want. Unfortunately, it will never be enough for people like Scott Walker and his allies, to whom employee rights, public or private, and however minimal, are an offense to God. The refusal of corporations to acknowledge these rights was the reason why the National Labor Relations Act was passed to cover PRIVATE sector workers. Corporations and the politicians they own have never disguised their hostility to the right of employees to bargain effectively. They have made no secret of the lack of employee rights as a key motivator for offshoring manufacturing jobs to countries where labor organizers are routinely subjected to intimidation, imprisoned and even murdered. Now Republican lawmakers are echoing their corporate counterparts.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  247. Kevin

    Dear Jack,

    Are we asking the question, are workers too powerful? The private sector was decimated in the 80's and 90's the building trades in 09 and 10 and now we want to destroy the public sector? What is the end game... our workers should be paid the same as third world, eliminate osha, child labor etc. Are we actually trying to go backwards in this country? We need more Labor power not less...

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  248. Janice in Minneapolis

    Here's the truth: The public employee unions in Wisconsin have agreed to the cuts the Governor wants to make to their benefits, and asked the Governor to negotiate his union busting bill, but the Governor refused. The unions offered to suspend collective bargaining for two years and asked to sit down with the Governor, but the Governor refused. The Governor has steadfastly refused to negotiate, and the Democratic lawmakers who are hoping to slow down this union busting freighttrain of a Governor left the state to prevent the Republicans from shoving this down the throat of their constituents. This tactic, by the way, did not originate with the Democrats who "ran away", but was actually a tactic the Wisconsin Republicans themselves used last year, when they were in the minority. Yes, times are tough. Yes, most people don't have pensions, and many don't have benefits. Let's see, what should we as a society do to solve this problem? Shall we strip away the rights and benefits of some just to make everybody else feel better? If we're going to eliminate unions, we should certainly strip everyone of the rights that unions brought to working men and women. No more weekends, back to working seven days a week. No company paid medical benefits. Can't pay your skyrocketing medical bills? Don't get sick. Let's go back to sending children into coal mines and women into sweat shops. You want a raise? Don't make me laugh.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  249. wayne

    Ha Jack the power of unions should not be reduced. All I here from republican lawmakers is everyone needs to pay there share well union members have been paying there share for years . When is wallstreet going to start paying there share along with these lawmakers who have tax payers paying all of there benefits when are they going to start paying a 10 or 20% towards Im tired of paying it all for them.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  250. david from washington state

    with the protest,unrest,and people will start fleeing from a tyrannical dictator,what are they going to do with the refugees from Wisconsin

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  251. Bob G

    It kills me Jack that non-union people want to drag down the unionized worker instead of joining a union. These people obviously would rather complain and whine to deny a union worker what they fought hard to get. It is a well known fact that union workers make more in wages and benefits than non-union workers so why don’t they organize their work and start making more money too? Oh I heard the absurd accusations that unions I mean use dues to donate to the democrats to get re-elected, what these idiots don’t realize is that it is illegal for unions to use dues money for political purposes. We do the same things that politicians and corporations do and that is hold fund raisers so we can donate money to the person that is going to stand with the working class of this country and not the corporations that worry about their stock holders and the bottom line while abusing their workers. Get wise American workers, unionize so you can negotiate your wages and benefits.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  252. Katherine

    Our Canadian public education system is very similar to the American model. I know that having union representation is the only possible way that teachers can attempt to carry out job duties. In this time, so many parents are taking minimal responsibility for their children. These parents have forgotten the purpose of education, which is for students to learn, and teachers to teach.

    Schools have become the be-all-end-all to North American children, and parents continue to demand more social services of the education system, to the point where education is no longer the primary focus. Students are doing poorly because they are not prepared to come to school and learn, and they do not perceive education as as an opportunity; these values come from the home.

    Without union representation, many parents (and politicians seeking votes) would have teachers take on even more social services and pass off more of what should be their responsibility. Unions are doing an inadequate job preserving the integrity of education as it is; imagine what the system would look like without that even minimal involvement!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  253. Tom

    No, the power of public unions SHOULD NOT be reduced. The power of all working class citizens should be increased by first taxing the wealthy. The wealthiest Americans have enjoyed reduced taxes for the past 10 years without having to sacrifice ANYTHING... and all on the backs of the people who can least afford it.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  254. Terry Beck

    Your bias is showing in the long preamble to the question. I am not a huge supporter of unions, and this is not to imply that unions haven't had their share of excess in the past. However, your question pre-supposes that the employees shouldn't have a right to collective bargaining. The Wisconsin unions have already offered to take significant reductions, and their pension benefit package has already been fully funded by 100% contribution by the employees. Check your facts. Why pretend the answers you are soliciting will result in an accurate or fair response?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  255. Jim in Pensacola

    A 50-yr period of general prosperity has allowed public sector unions to secure incredible benefits for their members. Unfortunately, cities, states & the federal government cannot sell more widgits when their tax-derived revenues start to fall. The only way they can manage their costs (since revenues are uncontrollable) is to reduce services and/or cut benefits for employees or simply reduce employee count. A private company, be it IBM or Joe's Body Shop, can make strenuous efforts to increase sales by increasing market share – even in a shrinking market. Failing that, there is bankruptcy for private companies. But Chapter 11 isn't there for cities, counties & states. Until revenues again rise, they must either cut services, benefits or emplyees. There's nothing else left for them [to do].

    February 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  256. Alan

    Jack, the Madison movement is an expression of frustration with the Governor's republican or tea party ideology – pure and simple. Collective bargaining by public employees has nothing to do with the poor economy and deficits in Wisconsin and the country caused by failed republican policies,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  257. Penni Lewistown IL

    Apparently, Wisc. is in the same boat Illinois is...after years, decades of of state government "borrowing" from the state worker, "borrowing" from the workers pension funds to pay other bills, or give themselves a raise, and NOT paying those "borrowed" funds back, along with not matching the employee's contributions, now they want to blame their red budgets on the unions, and union workers! We've paid our part, done our work, held our end of the bargained contract! these states have not! But now we, as state employed union workers are under fire for the mess state government created on their own by being fiscally irresponsible and inept! Perhaps the unions should be running these states, not facing what is happening in Wisc!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  258. Mike - Iowa

    The right to collectively bargain for their wages, benefits, etc. is the means whereby the Middle Class can can receive a fair share in the wealth of this country. The loss of these rights will mean that the Middle Class will be at the mercy of the corporations, wealthy, etc. without representation. The middle class will be the losers in this environment. The power of the unions should remain intact.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  259. helene turnbull

    Jack, all unions, and groups in a Democracy should have the right to gather together, discuss mutual concerns and send a team or a representative to discuss and negotiate with the other side . That is the legacy left to us by our country's forefathers as they built our system of government. It is basic democracy. Dictatorial edicts with no intent to listen, to negotiate, is not American. By the way, I thought you set up the question in a negative and biased way. Helene Turnbull, Circle Pines, Minnesota

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  260. Steve Rechel

    That is way to broad a question.Because state by state and year by year things change with the state budgets as well as the national economy and budget at the federal level.It has been apparent from day one when Scott Walker came out and placed a bill in Wisconsin that would completely strip the collective bargaining rights of the state union employees in Wisconsin.This coming after the representatives of the teachers unions agreed for all of the cuts and concessions that would have helped Walker balance the budget.I find it very odd why the elite wealthy such as the Koch brothers would even want to start a trend of union busting all across the nation when this would mean lower wages in the end to all American middle class workers.Then this would slow the tax revenue coming into the federal level so much that the government would have to raise taxes significantly in order to offset the slowing of the tax revenue coming from the middle class due to lower wages.But this has been gradually happening anyway over the last 30 years as one by one companies have outsourced and were replaced usually by a retail type low wage paying job such as wall-marts etc which do not produce as good a tax revenue generating stream as the jobs that were lost.So if the unions and good paying middle class jobs are gradually replaced or lost due to union busting tactics the wealthy in this country might as well get used to paying 75% of the tax burden because that is what will come down the road if this happens.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  261. Ken

    The private sector collective bargaining has management on one side and labor on the other side of the table.

    Public collective bargaining is a joke. First they have no competition, and second the union and management are not checks and balances, – they are both motivated to the same goal.

    And then to make it worse, the federal government and specifically the U.S. Department of Labor are advocates for labor.
    The playing field is tilted in favor of labor, and as a result there is no stopping their demands for more benefits and higher wages.

    The federal government public workers should not be allowed to have a union. They already have more people than they need, and few know what a day's work is all about. Look at any government office an you will see inefficiency and bureaucracy to the max....
    Warming a chair, cleaning one's desk drawer, doing the crossword for the day, filing one's nails, and extended coffee breaks is not justification for more benefits.

    The private sector could not exist if it operated like the bloated, inefficient manner of the government jobs.

    Been there, done that... then I got a real job.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  262. Jeff Larson

    You have it wrong Jack.
    The unions have agreed to all of the concessions that Walker asked for. And they're certainly not against balancing the budget. All they're asking for is to keep their right to collectively bargain.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  263. Bill Hess

    Why do union supporters automatically assume that unions are being outlawed if this bill passes? A little extreme, don't you think? How do they justify receiving better benefits than their private-sector counterparts? No one is addressing that question! They seem to be focusing on the past when unions DID serve a good purpose. Let's get some reasonable discussions going and not this win-sum mentality.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  264. MARK Cucuiat

    I was once a proud teamster member as an armed guard at a major race track in CA. That was back in the 90's when most unions were working for us ,now they are destroying us with contracts that are ludicris.I am for decertifing almost all unions. Use your brains when u sign those bargaining agreements.But the old dinasours that hurt most & benefit afew most GO!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  265. Gary Scherer Canton, Ohio

    Jack as a member of a public union (National Association of Letter Carriers) I have to tell you all you have to do is substitute the word “busted” for reduced and you have the answer to your question. Here in Ohio our fool of a governor, John Kasich, whines about an $8 billion dollar budget deficit yet insists on reducing government employees wages and benefits while talking about reducing taxes with no explanation about how he would pay for those tax cuts. To any union member who voted Republican in the last election I can only say “I told you so!”

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  266. Tom

    No. I lve in a state where public labor unions are prohibited. My wife was a teacher for nearly 20 years so I have first hand experience with the inequities brought on by the state and school administrators. In this time of budget constraints it seems that teachers and other public employees are more than adequately addressing the issue. Jack, there are other issues besides budget that make unions very important. An example is working conditions. So to take away collective bargaining which can deal with other things besides money is not the way to go.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  267. Roger Forbes

    I have never worked in a union job but am very aware of the wealth distribution in the west 10% rich, 90% not. The last three decades, we in the latter category have had no real income increase. Whereas those 10% have enjoyed unparalleled increase. The move to decrease our voice is criminal.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  268. paul moser

    I think that unions for public employes shold be terminated because they are no longer fighing big business robber barrens. They are taking excessive salery and retirement benifites from us tax payers because our weak-kneed politicians cave in to union demands to ge t union support!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  269. Mark

    Public employees should not be allowed to belong to unions or in the alternative those unions should not be allowed to contribute to polotical campaigns. The conflict of interest is obvious. To insure union dollars to your campaign the elected official cannot disagree with any union demand.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  270. bill shultz

    Yes we got to get all public employees benifits under control ,lets start with the unions then we can focus on these do nothing politicians

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  271. Kevin 31 year old in NY

    Dear Jack,

    Reduce the power, don't they make up like 5 percent of the workforce. Why are the republicans and corporations scared of so few people... oooh because educated, involved masses of people like in Wisconsin protesting wrongs won't follow the game plan set out by the Koch Brothers!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  272. Kim Smith

    I think if the unions in questions would follow the lead of the Republican Party and just re-name themselves, i.e. Tea Party, then there wouldn't be so much animosity. For example, they could call themselves the ' My Job Ain't Never Going to China But Yours Sure Is Taxpayer Funded Good Old Boy Network". That is certainly less offensive than Public Service Union, or Teacher's Union.

    By the way, why isn't there a union for military personnel in combat zones? It seems there is no one more a public servant than an enlisted person who risks their lives so teachers can complain about their situation.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  273. Mary

    The corruption that occurs when the labor unions donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the same people that they negotiate with for raises and benefits is sickening. There should be no public sector unions, and the reasons are all too obvious.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  274. C. Warren Gruenig

    Yes, especially curtailed for teachers. I was a teacher for many years and later a school principal.
    During that time collective bargaining for teachers often established clashes resulting in unhappy teachers and that wasn't helping kids, teachers or communities. Teachers are professionals and not CIO/AFT longshoremen and teacher associations should establish and insist upon highest standards to command the public's support and respect. The dirty tricks that my union was displaying and the union's defense of teachers no matter what an offense might be, smeared the majority of teachers that were doing an excellent job. Newspapers often featured this prominently. The public assumed that many bad teachers were being protected by the union. The bottom line was that though more money for salaries and benefitis for teachers might be won through collective bargaining, teacher satisfaction with their work and the establishment of public support was often lost.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  275. Barney - Milwaukie, Oregon

    The removal of collective-bargaining rights for Public Employees has absolutely nothing to do with the Wisconsin budget. It is a pure power play. The unions involved have given every indication they are willing to negotiate appropriate reductions in salary and benefits; however, the governor is unwilling to have any discussion with the unions. Furthermore, when he took office, Wisconsin had a projected surplus. The Republican controlled legislature passed tax reductions and concessions to business totaling well over $100 million. So what we now have is a contrived situation so Public Employees can be scapegoated.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  276. Marsh M.

    A\I remember the young intern from Albany, NY who told me she was disillusioned by the US Govt workers coming in late, going to Starbucks mid-morning and heading to lunch. The American public is finally catching on to the abuses of government workers.
    I remember walking down Connecticut Avenue in Washington and passing a FedEx, UPS, and US Postal truck. The FedEx and UPS guys were killing themselves working to deliver packages. The driver of the US Postal truck was asleep at the wheel.

    This will only change when all Americans demand public employees work under the same standards as the American business community.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  277. Crow

    It strikes me funny the Polticians are going after Union Labor for their right to bargain in good faith for wages, benifits, pensions, along with workers rights when they sit back and give themselves raises, Expense increases, tenor for pensions without bargining with the tax payers. They taped into S.S. that was paid in by workers for some protection and use it to help others that never paid into it, along with spending for other reason because it was there and they weren't locked out of it.
    Again, lawyers are running this country for their own good, not the poor tax payer.
    Tell me one thing wrong for fighting for wages and benifits. I think everybody deserves to make wages that make their life a little better along with benifits for protection.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  278. Michael


    The right to collective bargain and the need for financial management are two separate issues. They need to be addressed separately. Each of the labor unions has in the past and or currently is willing to negoiate concessions as to wages and benefits. The issue that crosses the line is the elimination of bargaining rights for these unions. Let's remember these contracts have been negotiated and agreed to in good faith sometime in the past and now these legislative pushes want to eliminate these agreements plus eliminate bargaining rights. Confusing the need for financial cuts with the need to eliminate bargaining rights is misleading and not productive.

    Philadelphia, PA

    February 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  279. Jean

    What power are you talking about cutting?. Who should cut the power, and should the power of all be cut?
    The people in the unions pay their taxes just like everyone else. The money that the unions have belong to the union workers. It does not belong to everyone who votes. Union workers have done these things "collectively". One gets cheaper healthcare because they can bargain for it with insurance companies. They put their money together to help it to grow. Everyone should have the power to collectively bargain.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  280. Matt Albany New York

    Yes, the power of unions needs to be reduced. But at the same time we need a government that will out of bed with the corporations and their lobbyists. Think about it? The reason unions exist in the first place is to protect workers’ rights. Right? I mean the rights like not to be fired because you’re black or white man or woman, the right to have normal hours and humane conditions in the work place, so on and so forth. That is because the government didn’t protect the people at that time so they had to do it themselves. Now unions threaten strikes for things like vacation days a pay raises? Collective bargaining? if the employer can’t afford to pay more than that’s it. I say take it or leave it, stop whining like little girls. At least you have jobs that pay a livable wage. Unions have sent billions of dollars in low paying jobs overseas. Where in the constitution does it say that collective bargaining is a right? As long as the government is strong enough to ensure citizens REAL rights, than the unions should be stripped of the power to raise the efficient market’s clearing price of goods and services.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  281. John Moore - New Britain, PA

    Jack, the question is why has management in the public sector failed to handle the Unions better? Could it be that they are politicians and not managers? Our system to too politicized and a good start would be to develop a non politically driven Civil Service at all levels of government.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  282. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    To equate public unions with private ones is inherently misleading. The government policies have seen to private sector union destruction by getting under the sheets with big business (most of which are now much bigger with less labor). So it would seem that to reduce the power of public unions which have protections and stability far greater than private unions by virtue of the fact that they are lving off of government wages, whereas private unions are living off of public citizen wages. Yes, it is painfully obvious that taxpayers are fundamentally different than tax recipients the latter love to identify themselves affectionately as " public servants". The only way to meddle with the power of public service unions is exactly what is being done, the representatives (Wisconsin) are running away.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  283. Ben

    Power of public labor unions should be reduced or eliminated. They are using Collective Bargaining to extort more money than they deserve from taxpayers.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  284. Judy Shapiro

    How interesting that you never mentioned that the unions ARE willing to give up 8% of their income through contributions for health care and pensions in order to help with the financial issues. On the other side, the governor REFUSES to give up his demand that unions have the right of collective bargaining taken away. In addition to salary and benefits, collective bargaining also covers safety issues, classroom size, etc. Unions represent teachers, janitors, cafeteria workers and many more. The governor or Wisconsin is happy to pass bill that includes issuing "no bid" contracts, but won't bargain with the people who would have no recourse for any issue without the union.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  285. Randy

    Of course the power of the unions should not be reduced. However, the corporate campaign contibutions that fund the anti-union attacks should be eliminated.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  286. mark in arkansas

    No organization should have the power to collapse a public service supported by taxes. Government workers are going to have to wake up and understand what reality is. The days of free health care for you and all of your family, pension programs that you can double-dip on by retiring from one government job, then getting hired again... are over. Learn how to work hard and keep your job because you are a good worker. NOT because you belong to a socialistic collective unit.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  287. Lowell Brown

    The unions have too much power and have no place in the public sector. The union should not be using dues ment for retirement to support policital parties.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  288. Sam Dallas

    As a long we have employers who still see their employees as slaves to be used, as long as there is a calculated plot to destroy the middle class, then labor unions should exist and strenghtened as well.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  289. Annie, Atlanta

    Reduce the power of public labor unions, the only last viable line of defense between American workers and rampant greed, and the guys who already own our politicians will have completely destroyed what’s left of our democracy – us. Our choice.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  290. Dave C (in New Hampshire)

    Let's completely eliminate ALL unions from the public sector!

    I'm a reluctant private sector union member in a non-right-to-work state.

    It's bad enough to have unions strangling private companies, but it's criminal to have them strangling the tax payer through the unions' inherently corrupt political influence in the public sector.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  291. william macaoo

    yes, all states need to.taxes pay then.just look at all there holidays,i only get 4.there 401ks.our tax money helps them there to.5 weeks vacation payed sick days.they need to take cuts to.and you see the working man going to work,they got the day off.the best medecial.being payed by taxes.i want a state job

    February 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  292. Katherine

    I know one thing: When parents start to parent again and take responsibility for their kids, we won't need teacher unions. As if that will ever happen.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  293. LE Gorman

    Michigan's state employees do not have collective bargaining, however the majority are required to belong to an union. These public employees have given furlough days, paying more on health care, to reductions in our hourly wage. New hires since 1997 are in the 401K plan instead of the defined benefit pension plan. They are still taking hits now by this new Republican Governor. My advice to Wisconsin's public employees, dont give up! If you do it will be just the beginning of what will be asked of you to sacifice in the future (Michigan state employees have learned this the hard way).

    February 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  294. James Popp

    The power of public employee labor unions should be reduced. They shouldn't be able to bargain on pensions and health care. It is causing a financial burden on state governments and tax payers can't be expected to continue paying for their excessive benefits. In the private sector if wages, pensions and health care costs are excessive the employer will be forced to close his business. The employees will lose their jobs. This isn't true in the public sector as they continue to get the funds from the taxpayer and the public employees continue with their employment. The benefits for public employees greatly exceed those for private employees. As a matter fact a large percentage of private employees no longer have pension benefits.. Teachers can have 25-30 years service and collect at least 60% of their salary.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  295. Ralph

    To the protesters in Madison: clear the capitol and go back to work under the same conditions as anyone else! You've been 1st class employees for far too long. Time to get a taste of the real working world.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  296. Annie, Atlanta

    Lowell Brown, but corporations, as people, now can dump unlimited funds into campaigns, and that's ok with you?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  297. Anne

    YES - Why should ANY American citizen be forced to join a union in order to get a job. It should be their "elective." Also, the cushy deals negotiated by the unions are no longer sustainable – Sorry folks, time to wake up and smell the reality!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  298. Clarence in Texas

    Change the unions so "all" they can do is represent the workers, they can't be involved in anything else and they have to be run by and funded by actual workers.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  299. bibbi

    The real reason for attacking the unions is because they support Democrats. If you look at the top 10 contributors to the past election campaigns 7 of them supported Republicans and were funded by rich conservatives. The other 3 were from union groups who supported the Democrats. Get rid of the unions and you get rid of the Democrats.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  300. Bob

    Elected officials have given away the store to public unions in the name of labor peace at the expense of the taxpayers. In short, elected officials wanted to have it both ways. The taxpayers should be angry with their elected officials. The unions got nothing but that which was agreed to.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  301. Jeff, Chicago

    Jack, if anything the power of unions should be increased so as to bring them in line with the completely unchecked power of corporations. While public sector union employees have agreed to band together and appoint representatives to bargain on their behalf, corporations behave much like fiefdoms where the fuedal lords make decisions that overwork and decimate the peasants working for them. As long as companies treat their employees like garbage and hoard wealth this country will never get back on its feet. While the fat cats are raking in trillion dollar profits, the poor are left to starve and freeze due to budget cuts.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  302. Ralph Nelson

    No! The current economic mess is the result of 33 years of Reagonomics (Supply-side Economics-Sanford University) in combination with Laiz Faire Economics (no government regulation prior to Teddy Roosevelt). Real wages haven't gone up since 1978 (census). That's it. Republicans are trying to destroy unions (Laiz Faire Economics).

    February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  303. Jim from Ohio

    Definitely yes! Public employees should never have gotten to the point of union representation, and governments should not be in the business of labor relations. Political contributions by special interest groups often conflict with the wishes of the voting majority. Union representation at best is a free market option, not all that necessary in today’s American workplace. Individual performance on the job builds character and ensures compensation.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  304. Ron

    Unions have outlived their usefulness. Formed originally to ensure safety and fair wages, we now have thousands of pages of government rules, regulations and laws that do that. Unions today are a drag on the American economy by adding significantly to the cost of manufacturing products and providing services ... and public unions put private sector workers in the position of having less money and fewer benefits (and lessened government service) in order to pay for the much more lucrative wages and benefits of street cleaners and other public union members.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  305. NickB5 in Portland, OR

    I'm opposed to unions for public servants but I think they went about this all wrong in Wisconsin. Instead of going after collective bargaining rights they should have just allowed the contracts with these unions to expire and then replaced these people with non-union public servants. But I would also advocate a public service draft, that way all American citizens are required to spend X number of years as public servants before going on to private sector jobs and careers.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  306. Mel

    Over these last decades the unions have been losing support and will continue to lose as long as the corporations are allowed the free rein over the people. I lost my job to china because companies like "Walmart" have suceeded in twisting the rules only unions are on the front lines trying to make sure a worker has a decent income and ins., No unions should not be reduced .

    February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  307. Brigham

    YES. Public unions are out of control. The benefits of some of these state, city and county workers is too much. There should be no collective bargaining for these employees just like there is none for Federal employees. I was in the military for 20 years and have some good benefits from that but it is a pittance compared to what we see in our local state, city, and county government. The taxpayer needs more say in these matters and all this transparency is no good for the public unions.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |