Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin, Ohio and California

Governor Walker of Wisconsin is fighting hard to be recalled. His wish to follow former Gov. Gray Davis of California into political exile deserves to be honored.

Govenor Kasich of Ohio also evidently wants to be recalled although he doesn't know it yet. He should be obliged. Both Governors Walker and Kasich, once they recognized urgent fiscal situations, immediately sought to destroy collective bargaining.

The citizens of Wisconsin and Ohio deserve better than they're getting and should increase efforts to recall their respective governors. Since one of the issues is pensions, we need to ask this question: were either Gov. Walker or Gov. Kasich to retire today, what would their pensions be? Once we know that, we can decide whether we think their pensions need trimming.

While we're at it, we should ask if it's correct that in Ohio corporations have been released from over $100,000,000 in taxes. If that assessment is correct, then that situation needs to be addressed not only in Ohio and Wisconsin but in every other state where earmarks have been a staple of business life.

These issues impinge upon healthcare delivery. In California when Arnold Schwarzenegger followed Davis into office, his first step was to set aside as much of collective bargaining as he could and to ruin workers' compensation for injured workers. Schwarzenegger enabled insurance companies to use doctors without California licenses to overrule and deny care prescribed to injured workers by duly licensed California doctors. The assertion was that this step would save money for the state. In reality, businesses saved some money but the huge beneficiaries were the insurance companies who used and continue to use one slick trick after another to deny care to injured workers.

Injured workers in California have wrongfully been denied care that was won in collective bargaining. Thanks to collective bargaining, however, California's injured workers are not without power and the ability to fight back. Walker of Wisconsin and Kasich of Ohio want to go further. They want to strip the workers, injured and uninjured alike, of any power to fight back. Such a move would be a boon to insurance companies that will be enabled to deny care as though there were no tomorrow. For some injured workers, tomorrow vanished yesterday.

It is fair game for the governors to seek reforms in pensions and to advocate for cost-sharing in healthcare. The unions have already agreed to that. But that's not enough for Gov. Walker or Gov. Kasich. Their purpose is not to establish equity but to ruin the unions and to destroy collective bargaining. That is why they deserve to be recalled and, if possible, sent into retirement without pensions.

AFSCME, AFL-CIO, and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists have repeatedly picked up the gauntlet that Governor Schwarzenegger threw into the faces of honorably employed public servants. In 2006, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, passed a resolution stating that Utilization Review doctors should be licensed in the states where they practice. But even Gov. Schwarzenegger wasn't autocratic enough to try to rescind the right to bargain collectively. Walker and Kasich display an arrogance that even Terminator Arnie couldn't quite muster. The solution in California was for Schwarzenegger to run out his string and then to vote down his retainers. The solution in Wisconsin and Ohio is for citizens to agree that pension and healthcare adjustments are indicated. They should then recall Governors Walker and Kasich. There is a moral to the story: protection of our rights requires eternal vigilance.

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