Labor war in Wisconsin

    Think government workers are lazy, unaccountable slugs whose health and pension benefits are sucking the public treasury dry?

    Or are they hardworking public servants being scapegoated by right wing demagogues?

    You’ll get a fair perspective on the showdown between public employee unions and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today on Fresh Air, where I interview New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse.

    He told me things I didn’t know about what the Wisconsin governor is trying to do, and he had an interesting look at Indiana, where Governor Mitch Daniels got much of what Walker is now seeking six years ago.

    Walker wants to strip most collective bargaining rights from not just state workers, but employees of cities, towns and school districts as well.

    It seems to me that if you have collective bargaining, a public employer can always just say no to excessive demands for pay or benefits. I asked Greenhouse if Walker wasn’t trying to save elected officials from themselves, to keep them from negotiating deals their taxpayers can’t afford.

    You can hear his answer today at 3 and 7 on WHYY in Philadelphia. If you’re outside the Philly area, you can find a station here. And you can always listen on line at the Fresh Air website.

    In other news, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has just nominated three-time GOP mayoral candidate Sam Katz to the state board that oversees Philadelphia’s finances – the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

    It’s a great pick. Katz has the background, guts and integrity to do a good job.

    Funny thing, last time I checked he was a registered Democrat.

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