Scott Walker's animosity towards Milwaukee County workers, especially the unionized workers, is well known to anyone that pays even the remotest attention to Milwaukee County politics.
For the past eight years, Walker has tried to run his perpetual gubernatorial campaign on the backs of these workers. In 2006, Walker grandstanded around the issue of negotiating a contract with the unions, demanding all sorts of concessions. When he was forced out of that race, all of a sudden there was a contract that nearly matched the union's original proposal along with a signing bonus.
This time around is no different. For two consecutive budgets, Walker has put in major concessions from the unions, claiming that it was only fair to make public sector employees suffer like private sector employees. I guess it would be too hard for someone who can't even formulate a jobs plan to make things better in the private sector.
But for someone so ready to stand by his convictions, it is rather odd that he refuses to present these demands in the arbitration hearing. Maybe it's because he doesn't understand what good faith bargaining is. Perhaps it's because he knows that they wouldn't fly, since no other local government has had to resort to such drastic demands. Or maybe it's just that he isn't really on the tax payers side and is only pulling a stunt so that he could get elected to governor.
To show that Walker really is a slow learner (which would also explain his collegiate career), Walker has apparently no understanding on where he went wrong in his dealings with the county's unions.
Even before he is sworn in as Goobernator of our not-much-longer-Great State of Wisconsin, Walker is trying to interfere with contract negotiations between the State and their unions, first telling the unions to stand down, and then asking the same from Governor Doyle. Somehow, the memo that Walker thinks he is now king never made it to the real world, and Doyle and the unions continued to follow the law, reaching tentative contracts.
The unions also took the opportunity to let Walker know that they are more than willing to be partners with his incoming administration in improving the conditions for all workers, public or private sector, in Wisconsin. However, if Walker would rather try to scapegoat them like he has Milwaukee County workers, he will find them just as willing to stand up for their rights which are protected under the law.
Jud Lounsbury, writing at Uppity Wisconsin, points out that Walker is also making illegal threats against any people Doyle appoints to civil service jobs. Walker's concern is that Doyle will be appointing his staffers and cronies to jobs so that they can stay working after the transition. (Which is extremely ironic considering what Walker has done for Tim Russell and John Chianelli.) Be it as it may, it is illegal for Walker to make that threat. In reality, what Walker has really done is given everyone a chance to fight any kind of corrective action by claiming retaliation.
It should be noted that just because the State and the unions are reaching these tentative agreements, all is not good for them. They still need the Democrats to develop some spinal strength and testicular fortitude to hold a half-day special session in order to approve these contracts. If they don't, Walker and his Republican allies will tried to kill these contracts. This will lead to a stalemate in contracts negotiations and the tax payers will either have to pay for years of back pay and other benefits after Walker's one term is over or Walker and his allies will lose the inevitable legal challenges and arbitration hearings.
I have no doubt that the state workers and their unions are in for a rough go of things for a while. But if they keep their eyes on the big picture and look at not just the immediate blows that are coming, they'll be just fine. It's the tax payers that are the ones that are about to get cold-cocked by the bill coming from Walker's immaturity and hubris.
Of course, this whole mess could be avoided if Michael Grebe dipped into his wallet and instead of giving his money to the RGA, spent some of it to buy Walker a book he could really, really use.