I know this cartoon won't make me very popular, but that's ok. I didn't become an editorial cartoonist to win a popularity contest. I became an editorial cartoonist so that I could use my modest drawing skills to express my political viewpoint.
This debate over Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill has been difficult for me. I have progressive values. I believe in gay marriage, I believe in mass transit, I believe in global climate change, I believe in abortion rights, I believe in urban planning and I believe in a single payer health care system. But on the issue of public employee compensation and the role that their unions play in our government, I find myself siding with conservatives.
I don't have a problem with unions in the private sector. Private sector workers should have a chance to collectively bargain for a greater share of the profits they generate. While public sector workers perform valuable services that make society livable, they don't generate profits for the state government. When public sector unions negotiate, the entity on the other side of the collective bargaining table isn't some greedy corporation, it's us, the taxpayers.
I believe that public employees should be well compensated for the valuable work they do. In fact, exceptional public employees should be exceptionally compensated (something that most unions have fought against in favor of pay based on seniority). But like the rest of us in this economy public employees need to make sacrifices.
That is why I hope they will support the compromise of Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, that the Wisconsin State Journal endorsed in an editorial today. Schultz's plan is the same as Walker's except that it calls for a sunset clause that would reinstate collective bargaining rights for public workers in 2013, after this budget crisis is presumably over.
Gov. Walker would be wise to accept this concession. Not doing so would only prove that his goal was never to balance the budget but to bust the unions. And, for the good of Wisconsin, public sector employees need to swallow their pride and be appeased by the sunset clause concession.