The “budget repair” bill would impose a new mandatory 5.8% payment into pension plans on state workers, and double the employee contribution to health insurance from 4-6% of pay to more than 12%. Taken together, these two changes would amount to an effective pay cut of well over ten percent.
Even more shocking, the bill would severely limit collective bargaining rights for state workers — and eliminate faculty and campus staff unions entirely. (Wisconsin profs and academic staff only won the right to unionize two years ago.)
The effect of these changes on students wouldn’t just be indirect, either — grad students working as teaching assistants and adjuncts will feel the pain if they’re implemented.
Governor Walker is hoping to pass the bill in the state’s Republican-controlled state legislature this week, and student activists are scrambling to mobilize opposition. United Council, the University of Wisconsin’s system-wide student association, held an emergency board meeting yesterday to plan actions for the week, and the system’s student governments — notably Associated Students of Madison, the student government at UW’s flagship campus in the state capital — are gearing up as well. (Some student bloggers: The Campus First, An Inexperienced Leader, A Silent Majority.)
Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard if protests get too intense, by the way. Should be an interesting week in Wisconsin — we’ll keep you posted, and you can follow the #handsoffourteachers hashtag on Twitter for updates from in-state.