Oh, that awful Scott Walker and his awful union reform law. It’s been devastating; I mean, look at just one school district affected by the Republican-passed law! The Kaukauna School District was already laboring under a $400,000 deficit; now, ‘thanks’ to Scott Walker and the Republican party, they’re now stuck with a $1,500,000 surplus! That means more work for the hiring department! That means that they’re going to have to gut the average class size! That means that the school district will probably now be able to get away with instituting the hideously unfair program of… merit pay!
Yes, I’m being sarcastic; this is actually great news. Most of the savings are taking place from teachers facing a slight increase in their contributions to their health care (still well below the average private sector contribution, mind you) and the institution of a modest contribution to their pension funds. They’ve also had their work week bumped up – to forty hours – and they’re up to six out of seven periods teaching a day, instead of five. Yes, this kind of fiddling was what Big Labor in Wisconsin went to the wall to to prevent. Well, that and monopoly pricing:
In the past, Kaukauna’s agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust — a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. “It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them,” says Arnoldussen. “Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor.” This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.
Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. “With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, ‘We can match the lowest bid,'” says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes.
Bolding mine – and isn’t that interesting? Oddly, during the late brouhaha in Wisconsin nobody in Big Labor thought to mention that the unions had a vested financial interest as vendors in making sure that state-mandated benefit contracts remained free from competition. It’s a sweet deal, really: make the state agree to exclusively deal with your shell company to provide mandated health coverage, with no real oversight and no alternatives. No wonder the teachers union leadership ordered up all that astroturf…
Moe Lane (crosspost)