MDJ columnist Laura Armstrong pushes the Fox News canard in describing the union upheaval in Wisconsin as a “temper tantrum.” Gov. Scott Walker is attempting to use the budget problems there as an excuse to gut the collective bargaining rights of public sector union workers — teachers, paramedics and firemen who have already agreed to contribute more for their benefits. The current contracts under which these men and women perform important jobs have no bearing on the state’s budget issues.
What Armstrong ignores is that local, state and federal governments must offer pay and benefits commensurate with what these dedicated public servants might earn in the private sector. If governments don’t compete for good people, schools, fire houses and ambulances will be manned unqualified personnel. So characterizing the benefits Wisconsin’s union workers earn as “entitlements” is completely false, but falsehoods are what we have come to expect from the far right in lieu of real dialogue and real ideas.