As angry teachers in the Midwest shut down more than a dozen school districts in protest Thursday, Republican officials across the nation have made teachers’ unions “public enemy No. 1” in a battle to trim budgets and rewrite the rules on how unions and states work together.
In Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, governors are taking on the unions — who they see as guilty of demanding excessive benefits and causing out-of-control waste — in their quest to cut spending and regain control over the educational system.
Some feel overly generous union contracts are busting state budgets, and many are using the current fiscal crisis to do something about it.
“I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested,” New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie told a conservative conference Wednesday.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a Republican, is pushing a plan to gut almost all union rights for teachers. He wants to monitor how much money they earn and make them pay a greater share of pension and health care costs, all while limiting their ability to bargain collectively.
I’m playing catchup with what’s going on in Wisconsin right now but Talking Points Memo has a good roundup of news and links.