Fox Continues To Misinform About WI Anti-Union Legislation

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Fox & Friends hosted Glenn Grothman, a Republican state senator from Wisconsin, to promote Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill and to misleadingly suggest that the legal challenges to the bill simply involved state employees' contributions to their pensions. In fact, the controversy surrounding the bill was its intention to strip most public workers of collective bargaining rights; the unions have consistently agreed to higher pension and health care contributions.

Carlson Allows Grothman To Misleadingly Suggest Controversial Aspects Of WI Law Pertain To Pension Contributions

Carlson Silent As Grothman Repeatedly Claimed Debate Centered On Making "State Employees Pay More For Their Pension." On the June 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Grothman if he felt "vindicated" by a recent court ruling "because you are one who supported Governor Walker's plan." Grothman replied that "there's no question the ruling was right," and that "now the law is finally going to go into effect ... we are finally going to be able to have state employees pay more for their pension." Later, Grothman again suggested that the legal challenges and opposition to the law centered on pension contributions. From Fox & Friends:

GROTHMAN: Well, they can always appeal one more time. Hopefully they won't find another bad judge, but we are going to be -- begin implementing this law as quick as we can. And like I said, the idea that it is against the law for the Wisconsin legislature to have Wisconsin employees pay for part of their pension is absurd.

[...]

GROTHMAN: They think that it's a constitutional right [that] for the next hundred years, state employees like myself never have to contribute towards our own pensions? What a ridiculous situation.

CARLSON: One final thought is that these recalls of six Republican state senators and three Democrat senators still moving forward. What can you tell us about that?

GROTHMAN: Well, it's a scary thing for both sides, I'm sure. We had hope -- we would certainly hope for not only the good of the state, but the good of the country, that no legislators are recalled -- which is very rare in the state of Wisconsin -- in essence for saying that government employees have to pay for part of their own pension. If they are recalled, I think we have reached the tipping point in Wisconsin and the country, in which there are so many people receiving a government check that we cannot get not only the state but the national fiscal -- fiscal situation back in order. It's just going to be basically elections between those people who want to keep their full government checks right now, and those people who recognize that some government checks have to be reduced a little bit.

CARLSON: Wow. Very interesting analysis. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/16/11, emphasis added]

But The Protests And Legal Challenges Centered Around The Bill's Collective Bargaining Aspects

AP: Legal Challenge Is "Against The Governor's Plan To Strip Most Public Workers Of Their Collective Bargaining Rights. A June 15 Associated Press article reported:

A coalition of Wisconsin worker rights groups is going to court to block Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

The groups are filing a federal lawsuit against the governor's plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The groups are challenging the bill's constitutionality. The lawsuit contends the bill violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by stripping away workers' rights to organize and bargain. [AP, 6/15/11, via FoxNews.com]

AP: Coalition "Argu[ed] That The Law Violated The U.S. Constitution By Taking Away Union Rights To Bargain." A June 16 AP article further noted:

The Supreme Court's ruling was a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who said the law was needed to help address the state's projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

But the legal battle was not yet over. A coalition of unions filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday arguing that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees. The lawsuit seeks to block portions of the law taking away collective bargaining rights, but allows the higher pension and health care contributions that the unions agreed to take to move forward. [AP, 6/16/11, via Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Wisconsin AFL-CIO: "The Unions Do Not Seek To Enjoin The Pension And Health Insurance Contribution Requirements." In a June 15 statement, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, one of the coalition members, clarified that the only portion of the bill the coalition sought to enjoin was the collective bargaining measure, pointing out that "the unions do not seek to enjoin the pension and health insurance contribution requirements." From the Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin some, but not all, of the provisions of the Budget Repair Bill. Significantly, the unions do not seek to enjoin the pension and health insurance contribution requirements imposed by the Budget Repair Bill. Public sector unions have made it clear from day one that Wisconsin workers would do their part to share in the sacrifice and keep our state moving forward. The lawsuit only seeks to preserve the basic right to bargain and freely associate. [Wisconsin AFL-CIO, 6/15/11]

And Union Leaders Had Already Agreed To Pension And Health Care Concessions

AP: Unions Were Already "Willing To Accept" 8 Percent Cut In Take Home Pay. During the debate over Walker's controversial bill, Wisconsin public employee union leaders indicated that they were willing to contribute more of their salaries to health insurance and retirement benefits, which would result in a pay cut of approximately 8 percent. From the AP:

Walker's plan would allow unions representing most public employees to negotiate only for wage increases, not benefits or working conditions. Any wage increase above the Consumer Price Index would have to be approved in a referendum. Unions would face a vote of membership every year to stay formed, and workers could opt out of paying dues.

The plan would also require many public employees to cut their take home pay by about 8 percent by contributing more of their salaries toward their health insurance and retirement benefits. Union leaders said their members are willing to accept those concessions, but they will not give up their right to collectively bargain. [AP, 2/21/11, via nola.com]

Wisconsin Education Association Council President: "Public Employees Have Agreed To Governor Walker's Pension And Health Care Concessions." The New York Times reported:

Mr. Walker's plan would require government workers to put 5.8 percent of their pay into their pensions (most pay less than 1 percent now), and would require them to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums (most pay about 6 percent now). Union leaders said they would go along with those plans, but they wanted to remove provisions that would prohibit collective bargaining for issues beyond wages, limit pay raises to a certain level without special approval by public referendum and require unions to hold annual votes on whether they should remain in existence.

''We have been clear -- and I will restate this again today -- money issues are off the table,'' Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said on Sunday. ''Public employees have agreed to Governor Walker's pension and health care concessions, which he says will solve the budget challenge.'' [The New York Times, 2/20/11]

AP: Unions Only Seek To "Block Portions Of The Law" Related To Collective Bargaining And "Allows The Higher Pension And Health Care Contributions ... To Move Forward." From the AP:

But the legal battle was not yet over. A coalition of unions filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday arguing that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees. The lawsuit seeks to block portions of the law taking away collective bargaining rights, but allows the higher pension and health care contributions that the unions agreed to take to move forward. [AP, 6/16/11, via Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Posted In
Economy, Labor Unions
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
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