Opinion

Walker should fire striking Wisconsin teachers

In 1981, when the air traffic controllers went on strike, Ronald Reagan fired them all. Can you imagine? Air traffic controllers — unique individuals with rare and valuable skills, thought irreplaceable, fired en masse. And we never noticed. Supervisors filled their shoes for months while new ones were trained. Not a single accident. What happened to those air traffic controllers who lost today’s equivalent of $100,000-per-year jobs? Few ever found jobs with that kind of pay again.

It’s time for a Reagan moment in Wisconsin. The average Milwaukee teacher at retirement age makes about $100,000 per year. Yes, I said $100,000. Milwaukee’s teachers are the best paid teachers in the Midwest. That’s not being reported on the nightly news, is it? What good is all that bloated compensation doing? Milwaukee has a depressing 68% graduation rate and two-thirds of Wisconsin eighth graders read below grade level.

Government employee unions, teachers’ unions in particular, have to be the only business (or should I say “racket”) that asks for raises for horrible performance. The worse they do, the more they ask for. It’s always “the money.” The teachers’ unions never mention that private and Catholic school teachers make far less, with far superior results.

What drove GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy was not the bloated salaries for blue collar union workers. It was the gold-plated pensions and free lifetime healthcare that killed the automakers. Wisconsin (and every other state in the USA) faces the same problem with its public employee unions.

Today, a Wisconsin teacher reported retiring at age 55, after working part-time for five short years. She gets “only” about $250 per month for life from the taxpayers of Wisconsin. If this teacher lives to be 78, her pension will amount to over $65,000. With cost-of-living increases, it will probably go to $75,000 — more than twice as much as her entire five-year working salary, which was $35,000. But what if she lives to 100? Her pension could end up being triple or quadruple her working pay.

Now, think about all the full-time teachers in Wisconsin making $100,000 a year (or more) who have not paid a penny toward their retirement but will get handed multimillion-dollar pensions for 25 to 40 years of not working.

It gets worse. Wisconsin taxpayers also pay all teachers’ post-retirement health care costs and pay for new teachers to replace them. Ever wonder why America is broke, busted and insolvent? That’s why.

While these government employees are getting gold-plated pensions and free lifetime healthcare, the taxpayers who are paying their bills are struggling to survive.

Why should taxpayers work their fingers to the bone until the day they die to support teachers’ and other public employees’ bloated wages and pensions? It’s the taxpayers who should be going on strike!

It’s time for Governor Walker and other governors across America to invoke Ronald Reagan. The message is simple: “Accept these modest cuts and end abusive collective bargaining by public employees or “YOU’RE FIRED.” And be sure to charge the teachers who have fake doctor notes with fraud.

Good luck finding any job in the private sector paying $100,000 (or even $50,000) to work 8 to 3 with weekends, holidays, sick days and two months off in the summer, then retire young with a bloated pension and healthcare for life.