I’ve been following the John Doe investigation in Wisconsin because I have a particular interest in the conservative Midwest governors: Daniels, Walker, Kasich and Snyder. I was looking for a good wrap-up of the investigation so far, and two things jumped out while I was reading it.
First, I wasn’t aware that there had already been a conviction as a result of this investigation:
The current John Doe investigation already has resulted in the conviction of railroad executive William Gardner. Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. and a major donor to Walker, was sentenced to two years’ probation in July after pleading guilty to two felonies for exceeding campaign contribution limits to Walker’s campaign and laundering additional campaign contributions through employees and associates.
Archer, 52, abruptly quit her job on Aug. 19 as the No. 2 official at the powerful Department of Administration. She made $124,000 in that position. She was to start the following Monday as legislative liaison at the Department of Children and Families, but began taking paid medical leave that day.
She is making $99,449 in that job – $39,129 more than her predecessor. That 65% pay hike was possible because Walker’s fellow Republicans turned 39 civil service jobs into political positions earlier this year.
That is an amazingly generous raise, don’t you think? It’s as if Governor Walker is lowering the wages and compensation of the lower-tier “front line” state workers, and moving that money up to the executive or manager level, where the beneficiaries are political appointees.
This got my attention because I’m working in Ohio on the effort to repeal Governor Kasich’s union-busting law, and the best part about doing that is that I’m not working (exclusively) with Democrats and liberals, so I’m hearing some different takes on it. There are more than a few Right-leaning people among the ranks, where I live anyway, and the conservatives or Republicans who are in this are talking about it differently than the liberals or Democrats who are in this.
Listening to the people who I suspect were or are Right-leaning voters (in this case, fireman) they are not ideological union members, they’re not rallying around any broad idea of worker solidarity, nor do they seem to be focused on “fairness” as an abstract principle. The liberals and Democrats are talking about all those things. The Right-leaning people are saying something different.
The Right-leaning people are complaining that wages and benefits are being or will be transferred from them, the front-line workers, up the line to managers. In the (majority) conservative county and small city where I’m working, the city executives gave themselves raises totaling $14,000 (not each, $14,000 total among them: it’s a small city) while they were promoting Kasich’s union busting law as necessary to avoid unnamed but horrible consequences. The city firemen noticed that. That got their attention.
I’m not suggesting that this transfer from front-line workers to managers is indeed the case to the people I’m talking with. It’s not an argument I’m making. I’m simply listening to them frame this issue as a budget transfer rather than a budget cut. They’re repeating variations of this as individuals, independent of the “message” that the We Are Ohio campaign has laid out. They’re convinced there will be no net budget benefit, long-term, and the wages that are taken from them will simply be distributed upwards, either now (which is what they just witnessed with the city executives, who gave themselves a raise while preaching austerity) or as soon as they lose the right to bargain collectively.
This is of course anecdotal. I’m listening to ten fireman, not one hundred firemen or a randomly selected sample of 1,279 firemen, but I am actually listening to what they’re saying, and that’s what they’re saying. I’m wondering about the two different takes on the issue, Right-leaning and Left-leaning, and whether it matters.