Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Falsehood Wrapped In A Lie Wrapped In Deceit

Jud Loundsbury of Uppity Wisconsin found some amazing footage of Scott Walker interviewing with the Oshkosh Northwestern's editorial board. A key part of that footage includes this exchange:
Editorial Board Member: Before, we were talking about state employees contributing to their plan, paying their share of the pension plan. Collective bargaining come into that?
Walker: Yep (nodding yes)
Editorial Board Member: How do you get that negotiated and accepted by the state employee unions?
Walker: You still have to negotiate it. I did that at the county as well.
Loundsbury also edited the hour-long video to this:

Loundsbury's find was so notable that Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about it.

Kudos and applause to Loundsbury for this big score.

Loundsbury goes on to point out what should be obvious, that while in the video, Walker stated that he was going to negotiate with the unions, but in the sad light of day, we all learned better when he dropped his "bomb" of the Budget Disrepair Bill on the state.

But I'm afraid that my esteemed colleague missed a couple, three things and made a glaring mistake, although it was one that most people probably would have made. In fact, of all the repostings and mentions of it, I hadn't seen anyone else catch it yet either.

One thing that should be emphasized to strengthen the argument that Walker indeed did not campaign on the union busting is Walker's own sworn testimony which he gave before a congressional committee last spring:

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post also hammered that point home.

One thing that Loundsbury and the rest has missed is that around the same time that Walker was meeting with the editorial board, just before the election, he was also contacting the unions, warning and threatening them to cease and desist in their legal efforts to reach a contract, which was already overdue. In hindsight, it's obvious that Walker did not want them to have a contract because that would have thwarted, or at least greatly delayed, his secret scheme to bust the unions.

But where my esteemed colleague went awry was by taking anything Walker says without sufficient skepticism and cynicism:
Walker then goes on to say that he has used furloughs as a bargaining tool at the county level and that "we'd approach a similar strategy for the state," but said that he was open to compromise, saying "we're not locked into saying it has to be exactly the same" and that if unions could provide alternative routes to saving money he would be willing to explore those ideas.
That line Walker used as the furloughs being a bargaining tool, in itself, is the dead giveaway for anyone who works or had worked for Milwaukee County.

For the last two years as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker never once sat down at the negotiating table and offered a contract. He would only make his demands known through the media, trying to gain popular opinion on his dictatorial ways, instead of negotiating anything in good faith.

Despite refusing to negotiate with the unions, he still included the concessions in his budget, thereby making it an illegal budget which would never be balanced:
This brings us to the big black hole that is found in both the Executive’s proposed budget and the Board’s amended version.

In Walker’s proposed budget, he is counting on some 16% pay cuts from union workers, as well as laying at least 200 workers. The Board’s amended version is less drastic, but still requires a considerable pay cut and the lay off of a couple dozen workers.

The expectation of concessions by the unions is completely understandable, and to be expected, especially when one looks at what has happened in other bodies of government such as the City of Milwaukee, Dane County and the State of Wisconsin and their respective unions.

However, terms of the contract between the unions and the County, as well as state and federal labor laws intervene with their plans. The County and AFSCME had reached a Tentative Agreement based on good faith bargaining. Through a series of poor choices, this Agreement was put on hold, and eventually denied by the Board as a whole.

The actions and statements made by Executive Walker, the County Board, and Supervisor Johnny Thomas basically constitute bad faith bargaining and prohibited practices, as defined by the contract and the law.

It is my understanding that AFSCME has already filed lawsuits against the Board and Supervisor Thomas, and other suits are being contemplated at this time.

It also, ironically puts the County in a bargaining disadvantage. Supervisor John Weishan, who sits on the Personnel Committee, pointed out that Walker’s own labor negotiating team admitted that Walker’s proposal has a zero chance of winning in arbitration. That means that as long as AFSCME did not propose anything unreasonable, the odds of the union winning an arbitration was all but guaranteed. To make things even more likely to fall in the union’s favor was the fact that most of all the other local governments had successfully reached negotiations with their unions offering modest raises, along with other concessions from the unions. Milwaukee County did the same thing with the nurses union, eroding the County’s position even further.

It is expected that due to this artificial budget and its faulty suppositions, that there would be anywhere from a $15 million to a $32 million deficit on January 1, 2010. It is further expected that Executive Walker will use this contrived deficit as a reason to call a fiscal emergency and lay off workers.
Walker did impose his furloughs, as many as 26 for one year for some workers (including yours truly)as a punitive measure for failing to concede to the demands he never even once put on the negotiations table.

But even the furloughs were illegal and now cash-strapped Milwaukee County has been ordered to pay back all the furlough time, which comes to millions of dollars, plus 12% interest compounded daily. For every day that the county delays in paying this bill, the taxpayers are getting pounded for some $30,000 in interest.

If someone knows the current Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele, tell him I've got a way for him to resolve this crisis without sticking it to the taxpayers.

In summary, even while he was telling the editorial board he was going to negotiate concessions from the workers, he was already threatening the unions in order for him to implement his plan to bust the unions. And he was completely dishonest when he made claims that he negotiated things with the unions in Milwaukee County. The truth is he was trying to extort things from the unions and using them as political pawns.

As a savvy politico once pointed out, Walker's refusal to negotiate with the unions wasn't a sign of a leader, but of a petty little man who had to resort to bullying in place of the leadership skills he lacked.

What Walker did wasn't simply bait and switch. What Walker committed was outright fraud.


  1. fyi he still lies to this day! as this video was being released, Scott Walker was saying (thx2 BFB for quote/link) to supporters: “I spent 18 months interviewing for the job of being your governor, for the job of being the CEO of your state government. As I traveled the state as a part of that job interview, I talked to the people of the state about the fiscal and economic crisis we faced. And then I told people exactly what I was going to do to fix it — exactly what I was going to do to fix it,” Walker said."

  2. WOW! Not being a union member, or employed by the state or any county gov't, I never fully understood the extent of Walker's deceit. The Democratic Party and unions MUST get this information out, in a concise, coherent expose.

    Political cynics will forgive a politician the occasional lie. But no honest employee wants to work for someone who deals with them so underhandedly; no consumer would buy a product or service from someone so untrustworthy; and no decent entrepreneur could sleep soundly knowing he had to so profoundly cheat and lie to his employees and customers to succeed.

    Walker is nothing less than a smooth-talking "means justify the end" sociopath, devoid of conscience - a political Bernie Madoff. This bit of video, and your essay, prove it.

    Dan Bice is good, but blogs preaching to the converted don't reach enough people.

    Unfortunately, the full narrative of Walker's deceipt is hard to fit into a one minute commercial or news soundbite. But getting the mainstream media to cover the story may very well determine whether a recall of Walker is supported by the fair-minded independents and GOP in my neck of the woods.

    Seeing Red, feeling Blue in Waukesha County

  3. Please take the advise of the above poster and try to get the media to pick this up. Start with some of the big newspapers also rachael maddow. This needs big exposure. Do not send to any Murdoch owned newspapers. It would be wonderful if Time or Newsweek would pick up on it. Please try Matt Tabbi (the spelling is wrong). This reporter exposes a lot on politicians.