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Ending the stalemate in Wisconsin

There is a certified stalemate in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker, who is trying to effectively end collective bargaining rights for most public sector workers in Wisconsin, has said he will not compromise. The Democratic state senators who fled the state to avoid a vote on the controversial bill have said they won't return, even if other key votes are held. Union leaders may have agreed to give up plenty in the way of pension and benefit costs for their members, but they refuse to negotiate on collective bargaining rights.

And if this keeps up, somebody is going to lose. Walker could manage to pass his budget, ending most collective bargaining rights in the process, but he's likely to make some enemies along the way, both among union voters and the many working-class and middle-class voters who benefit from their power. The Democratic senators could defeat the controversial bill, but they're likely to be held accountable for the votes they miss on other key matters, such as a GOP-backed proposal to require photo IDs at the polls. And even if union leaders hold onto their collective bargaining rights, they've given up some of the very pension and salary benefits they are supposed to be so powerful to retain. If they don't hold onto the negotiation rights, they risk a sharp slide into irrelevance.

All of which raises an interesting question. Is it better leadership for Walker, the Democratic senators and the union leaders--each in their own separate ways--to hold fast to their principles or find a third way that will bring a stalemate to the end? What is a more effective leadership skill: Steadfast adherence to one's beliefs or the ability to negotiate well?

All three appear to be working hard at the first one. Walker has been described as particularly calm in his staunch refusal to back down from his interest not only in balancing the budget, but in ending collective bargaining rights in order to keep public employment costs from rising too high in the future. Meanwhile, the Democratic state senators who've decamped for Illinois appear willing to miss out on other important votes--though the Wisconsin State-Journal notes the Senate doesn't have many lined up and ready for a vote. And union leaders have made clear their desire to retain the collective bargaining rights--a key benefit to paying union dues--that keep them in business.

If there's a way around the stalemate, at this point I doubt it will come from any of these three groups. Often in such showdowns, a leader emerges who has not been so intimately tied to any one position, but can find commonalities among the different groups. At this point, it appears unlikely to be a Republican state senator. But perhaps someone or some group will emerge that can bring the three parties together.

Without picking sides on the issue--I worry about the slippery slope that is the loss of union rights, but also agree inflated public sector pensions and benefits must come more in line with the current workforce--I will side with negotiation skills as the more important leadership tactic. At this point, the best thing Governor Walker can do as a leader (and as Wisconsin's chief executive, it is his job to do it) is to get everyone to the table and find a solution to this stalemate that hopefully doesn't involve too many layoff notices. He may not get everything he wants, but if he's able to negotiate a compromise, he'll get plenty more in terms of leadership bona fides.

By Jena McGregor

 |  February 22, 2011; 11:33 AM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Posted by: hhelsley | March 8, 2011 6:47 PM

It seems like a no brainer to start the recall process on the Governor Walker, especially after the phony Koch call; do the people of Wisconsin truly want a Governor that cares more
for a handful of billionaires than teachers, firefighters, & the back bone of the middle class? Doesn't any of them have the moxy to go after this guy??! And in the process expose the Koch money that attempts to keep him on their throne.

Posted by: bellcohen94 | February 23, 2011 10:16 PM

Walker wants to LIMIT not END collective bargaining rights.

Go for it. I would want the choice whether to participate in a union NOT forced to as a part of employment.

Posted by: RavenGodiva | February 23, 2011 6:00 AM

The Democrats are not going to win on any voting anyhow. They are outnumbered. They have nothing to lose by staying away.

Also, please understand that the public workers have conceded their benefits and will contribute to pensions.

This is about collective bargaining, but also about how it is being handled. The governor said at the very beginning, "There is nothing to negotiate."

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 22, 2011 11:13 PM

How can there be a stalemate when the Democrat Senators are hiding out in Illinois?

Posted by: asmith1 | February 22, 2011 5:40 PM

"And if this keeps up, somebody is going to lose."

The voters have already spoken. They elected the Governor to speak for them. He is doing what they elected him to do.

So, yes, the UNIONS are going to lose.

Posted by: mdsinc | February 22, 2011 4:54 PM


Now the thing to propose WISCONSIN legislators is to; ABOLISH THE USA CONSTITUTION!! Isn't that wHAT REPUBLICANS ARE LOKING FORWARD??

This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

You lived a great LIE, with REGAN. He was sick, with ALSAIMERS D. almost since he began his presidency , the managers on him were governing , INSTEAD, its time everybody knows , ah let the media says the all TRUTH
Citizens should make a RECALL EFORT, on that little governor,i n WISCONSIN.
First Jewish Major,BEWARE republican !!
BEHAVING LIKE HITLER AN KADAFY!! Those republican s!!They want accomplice s to do the dirty work. HITLERS, and KADAFYS ON AMERICAN SOIL?? KADAFY, HITLERS = REPUBLICANS!! ---- To protect the CORPORATION NS and the WELTHY!! Republican s will do the ultimate and UNTHINKABLE E!!. It seems the rest of the WORLD is trying to get the LIBERTIES they didn't have!-But here in the USA, REPUBLICAN 'S are trying to get us BACK TO SLAVERY, TAKING US MORE THAN 150 YEARS BACK!! ALL TO PROTECT, THE UNTHINKABLE E INTEREST They have in their CONTRIBUITORS, IN THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS! ! Beside the obscure interest they have HIDDEN!

Posted by: rleb2002 | February 22, 2011 4:35 PM

Now the thing to propose WISCONSIN legislators is to; ABOLISH THE USA CONSTITUTION!! Isn't that wHAT REPUBLICANS ARE LOKING FORWARD??

This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

You lived a great LIE, with REGAN. He was sick, with ALSAIMERS D. almost since he began his presidency , the managers on him were governing , INSTEAD, its time everybody knows , ah let the media says the all TRUTH
Citizens should make a RECALL EFORT, on that little governor,i n WISCONSIN.
First Jewish Major,BEWARE republican !!
BEHAVING LIKE HITLER AN KADAFY!! Those republican s!!They want accomplice s to do the dirty work. HITLERS, and KADAFYS ON AMERICAN SOIL?? KADAFY, HITLERS = REPUBLICANS!! ---- To protect the CORPORATION NS and the WELTHY!! Republican s will do the ultimate and UNTHINKABLE E!!. It seems the rest of the WORLD is trying to get the LIBERTIES they didn't have!-But here in the USA, REPUBLICAN 'S are trying to get us BACK TO SLAVERY, TAKING US MORE THAN 150 YEARS BACK!! ALL TO PROTECT, THE UNTHINKABLE E INTEREST They have in their CONTRIBUITORS, IN THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS! ! Beside the obscure interest they have HIDDEN!!

Posted by: rleb2002 | February 22, 2011 4:34 PM

Now the thing to propose WISCONSIN legislators is to; ABOLISH THE USA CONSTITUTION!! Isn't that wHAT REPUBLICANS ARE LOKING FORWARD??

This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

You lived a great LIE, with REGAN. He was sick, with ALSAIMERS D. almost since he began his presidency , the managers on him were governing , INSTEAD, its time everybody knows , ah let the media says the all TROUT
Citizens should make a RECALL EFORT, on that little governor,i n WISCONSIN.
First Jewish Major,BEWA RE republican !!
BEHAVING LIKE HITLER AN KADAFY!! Those republican s!!They want accomplice s to do the dirty work. HITLERS, and KADAFYS ON AMERICAN SOIL?? KADAFY, HITLERS = REPUBLICANS!! ---- To protect the CORPORATION NS and the WELTHY!! Republican s will do the ultimate and UNTHINKABLE E!!. It seems the rest of the WORLD is trying to get the LIBERTIES they didn't have!-But here in the USA, REPUBLICAN 'S are trying to get us BACK TO SLAVERY, TAKING US MORE THAN 150 YEARS BACK!! ALL TO PROTECT, THE UNTHINKABLE E INTEREST They have in their CONTRIBUITORS, IN THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS! ! Beside the obscure interest they have HIDDEN!!

Posted by: rleb2002 | February 22, 2011 4:29 PM

Now thhw thin to propouse WISCOSING legislatos is to; ABOLISH THE USA CONSTITUTION!! isn't that wHAT REPUBLICANS ARE LOKING FORWARD??

This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

You lived a great LIE, with REGAN. He was sick, with ALSAIMERS D. almost since he began his presidency , the managers on him were governing , INSTEAD, it's time everybody knows , ah let the media says the all TROUT
Citizans shold make a RECALL EFORT, on that little gobernor,i n WISCONSIN.
First Jewish Mojor,BEWA RE republican s!!
BEHAVING LIKE HITLER AN KADAFY!! Those republican s!!They want accomplice s to do the dirty work. HITLERS, and KADAFIS ON AMERICAN SOIL?? KADAFY, HITLERS = REPUBLICAN S!! ---- To protect the CORPORATIO NS and the WELTHY!! Republican s will do the ultimate and UNTHINKABL E!!. It seems the rest of the WORLD is trying to get the LIBERTIES they didn't have!- But here in the USA, REPUBLICAN 'S are trying to get us BACK TO SLAVERY, TAKING US MORE THAN 150 YEARS BACK!! ALL TO PROTECT, THE UNTHINKABL E INTERST They have in their CONTRIBUIT ORS, IN THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS! ! beside the obscure interes they have HIDDEN!!

Posted by: rleb2002 | February 22, 2011 4:25 PM

Ideologues to not want compromise. Walker is after power and ideological victory, not better budgeting. He has "calmly" stated that he would never compromise. Well, of course not: true believers don't compromise; to do so would be a sin. Walker's attack on the unions (and the poor) while larding more cash onto the wealthy, demonstrates perfectly why ideologues make poor managers. At a time of severe economic distress the nation needs rational, practical and compromising people to lead. But Walker shows himself to be petty, intransigent and governed by the same old ideology: give more to the rich, take from the poor and bust up the working people.

Posted by: swift02 | February 22, 2011 4:01 PM

Usually I agree with a compromise to settle a dispute. However the precedent of negotiating with with people who abrogate the oath they took and then run away form their duties sends the wrong message. If the Govenror lets this strategy be successful then the "flee strategy" becomes part of our democracy going forward.

Regardless of how you feel about this specific issue, running away should not be rewarded.

Posted by: sarno | February 22, 2011 3:30 PM

What's the problem?
A state legislature without Dems sounds too good to be true.
Let the Dems boycott forever.
The legislature should start passing new laws, or repealing old laws, as fast as it can before the Dems crawl back.
First the Packers win the Superbowl.
Now a Dem free legislature.
Wisconsin is on on a lucky winning streak.

Posted by: jfv123 | February 22, 2011 3:19 PM

The reality of Vietnam was already clear in 1968. It took until 1975 for the war to end. Those looking for some quick definitive solution to the problems facing American state governments are likely to be disappointed.

Posted by: dnjake | February 22, 2011 3:16 PM

This is interesting. In the private sector, I'm able to negotiate a salary with an employer, and I have to accept the retirement options they have in place. As I understand the Wisconsin bill, this will be the same for the unions. As long as the state doesn't "change the deal" on retirement for a worker after they've started working, there's no problem. You're free to not take the job; and the government can't play "bait and switch" on retirement benefits.

Regarding "Union Busting" - unions force members to support candidates against their will - why can't there be a card check for "use my dues for *this* party or *this* candidate only?

Unions also are against the secret ballot. The "card check" provision makes union members vulnerable to intimidation - "Let me see your ballot; don't worry, boy, I'll mail it in for you..."

Unions are very useful for protecting their members from the abuses of power coming from management. Governments would love to fire people just shy of their retirement, as private industry used to do. Governments also would turn a blind eye to many health and safety issues if unions weren't looking out for employees. I haven't seen anyone in the press focusing on what unions *should* do, vs. what unions *are* doing to keep their monopolies.

My 2 cents - R.

Posted by: rickhan1 | February 22, 2011 3:03 PM

The union in Wisconsin has agreed to make the healthcare and pension contributions stipulated by the law. This isn't an dispute about money (as Governor Walker asserts) it's about union-busting. It's about taking away workers rights to collectively bargain, and taking away a source of political support for Democrats.

Political thuggery this is.

Posted by: paul6554 | February 22, 2011 12:27 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
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