WEAC on the QEO

Christian Schneider:

For a decade and a half, the state’s teachers union has been hammering away at Republican state lawmakers for failing to repeal the Qualified Economic Offer law (QEO), which essentially allowed school districts to grant a 3.8% increase in salary and benefits to teachers without going to arbitration.
In the state budget he submitted in February, Governor Jim Doyle proposed repealing the QEO. Since Democrats hold both houses of the Legislature, it seemed to be a sure thing that they would go along with Doyle’s suggestion.
But then yesterday, a funny thing happened. WEAC, the state’s largest teachers’ union, offered up a “compromise” plan to the Legislature instead of simply doing away with the QEO.
Your first question is probably obvious: “Exactly with whom are they compromising?” They own the Wisconsin Legislature. They can get whatever they want – why would they feel the need to “compromise” with anyone, seeing as the thing they have hated most for 15 years is a couple of votes from being history? And who exactly represents the taxpayers in this “compromise?”
The “compromise” they offered essentially delays repeal of the QEO for one year. So they’ve been ripping on Republicans for years for not eliminating the QEO, but then when it comes time to actually do it, they want to push it off for a year – when they have the votes to eliminate it immediately.
What they’ve done is put into writing what most others have realized over the years – the QEO is actually a pretty good deal, especially in a bad economy. They have recognized that if you pull away the QEO now, they could end up with a lot less than a 3.8% pay and benefits increase. In tough economic times, it’s a floor rather than a ceiling – ask any of the 128,000 private sector workers who have lost their jobs in Wisconsin in the past year if they’d settle for a guaranteed 3.8% increase.