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Offline Pack93z  
#181 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 6:12:15 PM(UTC)
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Just as our public officials should be taking part in the sacrifices as the majority of us.. so should these union heads.

Wonder how dhpackr agrees?

Quote:

Largest unions pay leaders well, give extensively to Democrats

On the surface, the fight between the governor of Wisconsin and organized labor is about balancing state budgets and collective-bargaining rights. Behind the scenes, hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to top labor leaders as well as campaign contributions to Democrats could be in jeopardy.

Union treasuries - filled by dues paid by union members - not only fund programs benefiting union members and their families. The money they collect also pays six-figure compensation packages for labor leaders and provides millions of dollars for Democratic causes and candidates.

The Center for Public Integrity found compensation for leaders of the 10 largest unions ranged from $173,000 at the United Auto Workers to $618,000 at the Laborers' International Union of North America, and almost $480,000 for the president of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. The latter is the target of GOP governors in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas.

The union reports, filed with the Department of Labor, list compensation for all union employees and officers. Salaries make up the biggest portion, but other benefits can include tens of thousands of dollars for meal allowances, mileage allowances and entertainment. Health care and pension contributions are not specifically addressed.

The reports show that assets of the various labor unions run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and payrolls rival midsize companies. Among the Top 10 unions, dozens of top officials have salary-and-benefit packages that rank them among the top percentage of income-earners in the country.

"What's very clear to union leaders is the huge threat this poses for the organizations they have built," said John C. McAdams, political science professor at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

The standoff began when Gov. Scott Walker proposed deep cuts in state workers' benefits to help close a projected $3.5 billion deficit in the state budget. Although unions have said they would agree to cuts in health insurance and retirement plans, Walker is pushing to curtail bargaining rights and make it harder to organize workers and collect dues.

Gerald McEntee, president of the AFSCME, said Walker is retaliating for organized labor's support of Democrats, in particular for the money given to his opponent in the 2010 election.

In the 2010 elections in Wisconsin, AFSCME gave almost $83,888 to Democratic candidates. Half that amount went to the campaign of Tom Barrett, whose top 10 donors were unions. Barrett lost to Walker, who promised during the campaign to take on organized labor if elected.

"This is political payback, which does nothing to promote job growth or help the middle class," McEntee said on The Huffington Post. "This is nothing less than union busting at its most transparent, designed to deny workers a voice in the workplace."

The membership of AFSCME, which evolved from a state employees union organized in Wisconsin in 1932, has grown by 25% over the last decade. McEntee, who has been president since 1981, says more than 145,000 government employees have joined AFSCME since 2006.

McEntee's pay and benefits have grown along with his membership stats. Reports by the union indicate that his salary has increased by about 4% a year, even as many workers have faced pay freezes and unpaid furloughs. In 2009, his compensation totaled almost $480,000.

These are the 10 largest unions, noting the number of employees who have compensation packages of more than $200,000, leadership salaries and campaign contributions to federal candidates in 2009-'10.

National Education Association. Membership: 3.2 million; assets: $216 million. The NEA, representing most of the nation's teachers, has 31 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 in pay and benefits. The president, Dennis Van Roekel, received $397,721 in salary and benefits. Of the $3.7 million NEA spent on political activities in the last election cycle, 98% went to Democratic candidates. The NEA has 98,000 members in Wisconsin.

Service Employees International Union. Membership: 1.8 million; assets: $187 million. The SEIU, whose membership has increased in recent years, has been organizing hospital, home care and nursing home workers, along with local and state government employees, janitors and security officers. The union has nine headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The former president, Andy Stern, was paid $306,388 in salary and benefits from the union in 2009. Stern resigned in 2010 and was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, formerly the executive vice president. Over the past two years, SEIU gave almost $2 million to Democratic candidates and $8,500 to Republicans. It has 18,000 members in Wisconsin.

United Food & Commercial Workers. Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $157 million. The UFCW, whose members work in meatpacking, food processing and retail grocery stores, has 17 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The president, Joseph T. Hansen, received $360,737 in compensation in 2009. Of the $1.9 million the union donated to political candidates over the past two years, 99% of it went to Democrats.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $175 million. The Teamsters, whose origins date to the horse- and mule-team drivers of the late 1800s, represent truck drivers and a wide array of blue-collar and government workers. Eight headquarters officers and employees received more than $200,000 in 2009. The president, James P. Hoffa, was compensated $364,869. Over the past two years, the Teamsters have donated $2.3 million to Democratic candidates and $46,500 to Republicans.

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. Membership: 1.5 million; assets: $78 million. AFSCME, one of the fastest growing unions in the United States, was founded in Wisconsin almost 80 years ago. At union headquarters in Washington, 10 officers and employees receive more than $200,000 a year. McEntee was paid $479,328 in salary and benefits in 2009. Over the past two years, AFSCME has donated $2.3 million to Democratic candidates and $78,500 to Republicans.

Laborers' International Union of North America. Membership: 633,000; assets: $134 million. The Laborers represent mostly construction workers in 500 locals in the U.S. The headquarters in Washington has 17 officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 a year, including 10 who earn more than $300,000. Terence O'Sullivan, union president since 2000, received $618,000 in salary and benefits in 2009. Of the $1.7 million donated to political candidates over the past two years, 95% went to Democrats.

American Federation of Teachers. Membership: 887,000; assets: $115 million. AFT is the smaller of the two teacher unions and also represents school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, health care professionals and state and municipal employees. At AFT's headquarters in Washington, nine officers and employees earn more than $200,000 a year. Randi Weingarten, who was elected president in 2008, received $428,284 in salary and benefits. Of the $2.4 million donated to political candidates in the past two years, the union gave all but $10,000 to Democrats.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Membership: 685,000; assets: $482 million. IBEW represents electricians, linemen and other public utility employees, along with some computer, telecommunications and broadcasting workers. Sixteen of the IBEW's officers and employees in Washington earned more than $200,000 in 2009. Edwin D. Hill, the union president since 2001, received $375,767 in pay and benefits. Hill and other top officials received salary increases averaging at least 4% each in the past several years, even as membership declined by 5%.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Membership: 613,000; assets: $147 million. IAM, which grew out of a secret meeting of 19 machinists in a Georgia rail yard in 1888, represents machinists and aerospace workers in more than 200 industries. At the union's Maryland headquarters near Washington, 34 officers and employees earn over $200,000 in salary and benefits. Robert Buffenbarger, who became president in 1997, received $284,975. Over the past two years, the IAM donated $1.98 million to Democratic candidates and $34,000 to Republicans.

United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. Membership: 538,000; assets: $1.2 billion. The UAW, founded in 1935 by automobile plant workers, currently represents workers at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, along with workers in the aerospace and agriculture industries. None of the officers or employees at the UAW headquarters in Detroit earns more than $200,000 a year. Over the past two years, the UAW donated more than $1.6 million to political candidates, and all but $3,000 went to Democrats.

Center for Public Integrity reporters Aaron Mehta and Laurel Adams contributed to this report. The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to produce investigative journalism about significant public issues. It is based in Washington, D.C.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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Offline musccy  
#182 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 6:28:34 PM(UTC)
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There's no disputing that democrats are up in arms over this because they see their cash cow being shot out in the pasture. Maddow pointed to the 2008 election campaign funding - only 3 of the top 10 were democratic supporters and all were unions.

Nobody is saying unions are without flaw, or that this dispute isn't due to policital posturing. However, the majority of public union members are willing to concede this knowing this helps with representation for democratic polititians that typically fight for their interests, and unions provide negotiating power in the workplace.

Walker is 86'ing the unions to reduce $$$ and campaign support to the left, plus with his 1.5 billion in cuts to cities/education (and not allowing for any new taxes to counter the cuts) forces the local governments to make the layoffs and cuts (e.g. AP programs, recycling) that he wants but w/out having to be blamed for.

Also, if I worked for public works wherever Walker lives, I'd cut off the water, trash pick up, and not plow the snow directly in front of his house and say tough shit, we had no choice - budget cuts!
Offline dhpackr  
#183 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 7:01:36 PM(UTC)
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very busy, but I'm gonna respond quick.

Its not like the private sector (taxpayers) pay those union bosses salary. that comes from union dues.

& you proved what was really at the heart of Walkers campaign. It was the republicans plan the whole time to break the unions.

as a fellow Musky fisherman is trying to point out to you,

the unions are the biggest contributors to the democrats....so break the union, break the democrats and a huge chunk of their (democrats)funding.

this has nothing to do with the WI budget, never did, its about democrat vs. republican and the fight for the white house.

the saga continues.
So if you meet me Have some courtesy, Have some sympathy, and some taste
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Offline musccy  
#184 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 7:31:05 PM(UTC)
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I almost completely agree with you Dhpackr other than my hunch that this also involves a push to privatize education in the state and other municipal services (in addition to the usual dems vs. repubs power struggle).

I could write a 12 paragraph-long post about the flaws in his budget proposal, but I'll save that for if this thread continues to evolve.

Other than effectively eliminating recycling in the state :headwall: and loosening some phosporous emission standards :headwall: it appears (from what I've read so far) that he left the DNR, public lands, fishing, state parks, etc. alone. However, if something turns up in this 1,300 paged document of uneducated republican hand-job giving bull shit to fuck with that natural resources of this state (in particular my muskies) any more, I will pay his neighbor 4 million dollars so I can move in and be the most annoying son of a bitch neighbor since Dennis the fucking Menace.
Offline Pack93z  
#185 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 7:38:36 PM(UTC)
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I have said it a couple times in this debate... that Walker's motives were suspect when he passed on the concessions offered up by the unions.

No question that Walker has another agenda in focus.. and hard pressed not to see what that agenda is.

My point was.. and is.. there is a ton of fat that could be trimmed from both sides of this debate.. and it should be trimmed.

If as an union brother or sister you are okay with forking out for an extra tax in the form of union dues.. it is your right.

I was just wondering why these union leaders haven't been challenged publicly about their grossly bloated pay checks.. just like we are challenging the compensation our elected officials are receiving.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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Offline musccy  
#186 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 7:48:58 PM(UTC)
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I see your point, and the union reps/leaders, (both national and state) coming to protest on behalf of the workers seems a little disingenous when you know that they're really in Madison to protect their own butts
Offline Pack93z  
#187 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 8:02:58 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post
I see your point, and the union reps/leaders, (both national and state) coming to protest on behalf of the workers seems a little disingenous when you know that they're really in Madison to protect their own butts


Bingo.. there are two sides in this that are using the general workers as pawns for their own personal gain.

Just not the one side.. the Walker side.

Trying my best to illustrate the point without irritating anyone.. neither side is in it for the righteous cause past the workers sitting on both sides of the debate.

Just another issue in which the common man is merely a pawn.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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Offline Cheesey  
#188 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 8:05:20 PM(UTC)
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The ONLY reason the so called "union leaders" give a damn is because it cuts off their own free spending of other people's money. That's it, PERIOD. They don't give a DAMN about the "little people".
So the state workers have to pay a little more then they did before. It's STILL way less then what we "average" people have to pay. And pensions? Who on this site even HAS a pension to look forward too?
The "cash cow" is being killed by Walker, and those that have been given a chunk of said cow, are pissed off that their own piece of steak might be a little smaller then they expected.
Please, all you smart guys that think Walker is wrong, how much longer can Wisconsin survive spending millions upon millions of dollars more then it takes in every year? Someone now has the BALLS to try to stop the bleeding, and a handful of people cause all kinds of trouble at the state capital.
The only reason the Walker supporters haven't been there is that THEY are busy at their jobs. They have to be at work to support their families.
My wife has a union.....the ONLY people they "help" are the lazy bastards that SHOULD be fired. They do NOTHING for the hard workers.
That's fact.
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Offline musccy  
#189 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 8:35:13 PM(UTC)
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Agreed pack93z...I'm very anti-Walker, obviously, but in no way does that mean that I have my head in the sand and lose sight of the fact that the unions/democrats don't have their own self-preserving interests involved here. As you said, it's too bad worker layoffs are being used as a threat to push political agendas.

Cheesy - the notion that the state/public workers are wiping their butts with golden toilet paper is a falacy perpetuated by Fox News. Are the benefits and pensions pretty good? Yes, but they have also been negotiated that way in lieu of salary.

If you work for the state/public, you're not going to see big raises, you're not going to see a Christmas bonus, you'll likely have a ceiling on how much you can earn - but in exchange you have a decent job, with OK pay and good benefits - there's a pro/con to the positions. With these 'cozy state jobs' who on the right is talking about the 8 unpaid furlough days last year, 2-year-long pay freezes added to the 6% hike in HC/pensions? Public sector work is not this free-loading gravy train that Walker and Limbaugh want you to believe it is, they've made a lot of consessions the last 2 years.

This all comes at a cost, I acknowledge that - but it's for services we all benefit from. You want to pay a private contractor to plow your road? Your house burns down, do you want to pay a private fire co. 3grand after you lost all your possessions? How much do you pay for water? You want to pay to drill your own well, treat it, and then have to deal with keeping your neighbor's shit out of your own well because sans public utilities we now all have our own septic fields on 1/4 acre lots. Taxes are a dream relative to a 20k+/year cost of private k-12 education!

I'm not disputing changes need to be made, but to come down so heavy solely on the public sector employees, then on top of that cut the revenue that can come into the state with property tax caps and tax breaks to new businesses is outrageous. I thought Walker said we ALL need to chip in?!?
Offline Porforis  
#190 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 8:46:25 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post
If you work for the state/public, you're not going to see big raises, you're not going to see a Christmas bonus, you'll likely have a ceiling on how much you can earn


Everyone on this forum that has gotten a big raise or christmas bonus in the last two years, raise your hand. I don't disagree with much in terms of the content of your latest post but I don't agree with the implication that much of the private sector has been getting ANY of that the last two years. And most people, not ever.
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Offline Cheesey  
#191 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 9:25:17 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post
If you work for the state/public, you're not going to see big raises, you're not going to see a Christmas bonus, you'll likely have a ceiling on how much you can earn


Everyone on this forum that has gotten a big raise or christmas bonus in the last two years, raise your hand. I don't disagree with much in terms of the content of your latest post but I don't agree with the implication that much of the private sector has been getting ANY of that the last two years. And most people, not ever.

You hit the nail on the head!

My wife, who has worked at her place of employement for 17 years, has NEVER got a "Christmas bonus". She did get a card a couple years ago, signed by the bosses. Oh....the bosses all got big bonuses.
And a 'big raise?" I think she got under 2% raise.
And lets not forget that state/public workers pretty much have a job for life, unless they murder someone.
I LOVE the teachers that are protesting that it's "all about the children"! (While they are missing classes to TEACH said children).
Let's see....a job that you have off every summer, and still get paid, "tenure" that makes it nearly impossible to get fired, great pensions.....yeah.....all about the kids.
They just don't want the "gravy train" to stop.
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Offline musccy  
#192 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 9:35:35 PM(UTC)
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I didn't mean to imply that everyone in the private sector flies around on golden private jets with lavish Christmas bonuses - not at all - I'm just refuting this villification of teachers and public employees right now as if they've got it made in the shade.

I myself work for a private college, 5 years and only 1 2% raise, no christmas bonuses, I'm a year-to-year contract and my job as a coach puts me in direct conflict with the public schools daily. In spite of this, I am a fervent supporter of the benefits that the public sector provides society and am appalled by the hatred and misinformation directed towards them right now.

Also - the P R I V A T E school I work for has tenure tracked faculty positions as well with reasonable health insurance and employer contributions to a retirement plan...but only the public education is riding the gravy train :facepalm:
Offline Wade  
#193 Posted : Thursday, March 3, 2011 11:06:56 PM(UTC)
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Don't know where this fits, since I'm in neither the "government" nor the "for-profit" sector....but...

For the third year in a row, I'm being asked to sign a contract this spring for the year starting in August, without knowing what my pay is going to be. In one of the previous two years, the dollar change was zero; in the other, it went up by about 1%, or perhaps $55/month before taxes.

Complicating matters: our salary is set according to a common scale for all, with each of us "moving up" one level on the scale each year. Traditionally, this meant we got two kinds of raises every year. One for "experience" (moving to a higher step) and one reflecting the increased demand for people like us (moving every step in the scale up from where it was the previous year). Typically, the step/reward-for-more-experience move was about 0.7% (or maybe $35 bucks a month for me).

Two years ago, this changed. The year before last, I officially moved up a "step", but my salary at step N+1 was exactly the same as it had been the year before at step N.

Now we can of course argue about whether this "step raise" system is economically wise or not. And based on the budget numbers I've seen, I definitely can see the admin's argument that we can't "afford more right now."

But I also know some other things. I know that the tight pursetrings here are not because of some "long term recessionary economy" (or whatever the phrase the admin loves to use in their rationalization -- higher education usually is countercycilcal relative to the business cycle, especially in the first year or so -- school and "additional education" improves one's resume power. And indeed, we had a year or so of higher-than-expected enrollments. I know that the pursestrings are tight because more and more people are questioning whether higher education of the sort traditional colleges/universities is worth the cost. I know the pursestrings are tight because colleges/universities have been binging on physical plant and dubious programs and ancillary services of "the college life", instead of on providing better products in their areas of core competency (i.e., educational services).

College students get more and more stuff on campus -- better living space, better food, better physical and mental health protection, better athletics and arts offerings, etc etc. But the one thing that most people think of as the "essence" or "core" of college -- the "education"? They get less. They make do with larger classes, more canned textbooks and multiple choice exams, less individual faculty attention, less mental challenge, etc etc.

As people have doubtless figured out by now, I see education as having serious problems in this country. Both higher education and primary/secondary. And you've probably also figured out that a part of my negative vision is based on my perceptions of what has happened due to poor decisions by the PTBs where I work.

But I watch this debate about "Walker and the unions" and I think, if I were in Wisconsin, I'd want a solution that got rid of both the unions and the politicians. (And probably the monopoly power of local school boards, too, by getting rid of compulsory education, but that's another argument for another day.)

I look at Walker and the unions, and I see people who see all solutions in terms of the amount that teachers do/do not get paid. Teacher pay, whether it is too high or too low, is at most a symptom of far deeper problems.

And if all we do is focus on the pay question -- if all I do is focus on how little my raises have been, if all my employer does is focus on the additional cost of faculty salary raises -- we keep ignoring the real problem

The real problem is not salaries or public funding. Sorry, folks, it just isn't. The real problem is that what passes for "education" in this country today is fundamentally out of touch with the actual needs of an economy/society as complex and as big and as subject to tech/cultural change as ours.

I don't much care who wins or loses in Walker v. The Unions. In my opinion, unless the people of Wisconsin realize that BOTH Walker AND the Unions are playing losing hands, unless they can find a way to reject them both AND find something better, they're going to keep getting fucked over education-wise.

And no, I don't have a solution. But I do know that the solution doesn't lie with listening people who have, over and over, demonstrated by word and deed that they are part of the problem.
None of the above. It wouldn't have been a wasted vote. Obama and Romney -- Those were the wasted votes.
Offline musccy  
#194 Posted : Friday, March 4, 2011 12:26:28 AM(UTC)
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Quote:
My wife, who has worked at her place of employement for 17 years, has NEVER got a "Christmas bonus". She did get a card a couple years ago, signed by the bosses. Oh....the bosses all got big bonuses.


Doesn't this make a case for the validity of unions?

Quote:
I LOVE the teachers that are protesting that it's "all about the children"! (While they are missing classes to TEACH said children).


Is dissolving the unions all about the budget, as Walker claims it is? If so why are some left in tact while others abolished...and what do bargining rights have to do with state finances anyway? There are half-truths in both statements.

No, the teachers are not pure altruists - they want to be paid well and have bargining rights - but there is truth that the 834 mil in K-12 cuts may impact music, theatre, class sizes, AP classes, etc. Same for the budget claims - unions don't cost Walker or WI anything - but getting rid of htem will make it easier for communities to have "the tools," as Walker says, to slice and dice teachers and programs as they see fit.

Wade - what are you getting at with the flaws in education - SOLs, the content of what we teach, the way in which we teach (lecture vs. inquiry based)? I'm not accusing, just inquiring.
Offline Pack93z  
#195 Posted : Friday, March 4, 2011 1:21:56 AM(UTC)
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Just as the Unions are bankrolling on part of this fight.. Walker side has it own funding.

When are the middle class and below going to see that neither side has OUR interests in complete focus, you know the heart of this nation?

Quote:


[size=24]Billionaire Brothers Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute[/size]
By ERIC LIPTON

WASHINGTON Among the thousands of demonstrators who jammed the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds this weekend was a well-financed advocate from Washington who was there to voice praise for cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights.

The visitor, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, told a large group of counterprotesters who had gathered Saturday at one edge of what otherwise was a mostly union crowd that the cuts were not only necessary, but they also represented the start of a much-needed nationwide move to slash public-sector union benefits.

We are going to bring fiscal sanity back to this great nation, he said.

What Mr. Phillips did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group, whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch.

State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts.

Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.

State governments have gone into the red, he said, in part because of the excessively generous pay and benefits that unions have been able to negotiate for teachers, police, firefighters and other state and local employees.

We thought it was important to do, Mr. Phillips said, adding that his group is already working with activists and state officials in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania to urge them to take similar steps to curtail union benefits or give public employees the power to opt out of unions entirely.

To union leaders and liberal activists in Washington, this intervention in Wisconsin is proof of the expanding role played by nonprofit groups with murky ties to wealthy corporate executives as they push a decidedly conservative agenda.

The Koch brothers are the poster children of the effort by multinational corporate America to try to redefine the rights and values of American citizens, said Representative Gwen Moore, Democrat of Wisconsin, who joined with others in the union protests.

A spokesman for Koch Industries, as well as Mr. Phillips, scoffed at that accusation. The companies owned by Koch (pronounced Coke) which include the Georgia-Pacific Corporation and the Koch Pipeline Company have no direct stake in the union debate, they said. The company has about 3,000 employees in Wisconsin, including workers at a toilet paper factory and gasoline supply terminals. The pending legislation would not directly affect its bottom line.

A balanced budget will benefit Koch Industries and its thousands of employees in Wisconsin no more and no less than the rest of the states private-sector workers and employers, said Jeff Schoepke, a Koch Industries lobbyist in Wisconsin. This is a dispute between public-sector unions and democratically elected officials over how best to serve the public interest.

Certainly, the Koch brothers have long used their wallets to promote fiscal conservatism and combat regulation, another Koch Industries spokesman said Monday.

But the push to curtail union benefits in Wisconsin has been backed by many conservative groups that have no Koch connection, Mr. Phillips noted.

Americans for Prosperity came to Wisconsin more than five years ago and has thousands of members, he said. The state chapter organized buses on Saturday for hundreds of Wisconsin residents to go to the Capitol to support the governors proposals.

This is a Wisconsin movement, said Fred Luber, chief executive of the Supersteel Products Corporation in Milwaukee, who serves on Americans for Prosperitys Wisconsin state advisory board. Obviously, Washington is interested in this. But it is up to us to do.

Political activism is high on the list of priorities for Charles Koch, who in a letter last September to other business leaders and conservatives explained that he saw no other choice.

If not us, who? If not now, when? said the letter, which invited other conservatives to a retreat in January in Rancho Mirage, Calif. It is up to us to combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes.

Campaign finance records in Washington show that donations by Koch Industries and its employees climbed to a total of $2 million in the last election cycle, twice as much as a decade ago, with 92 percent of that money going to Republicans. Donations in state government races like in Wisconsin have also surged in recent years, records show.

But the most aggressive expansion of the Koch brothers effort to influence public policy has come through the Americans for Prosperity, which runs both a charitable foundation and a grass-roots-activists group. Mr. Phillips serves as president of both branches, and David Koch is chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

The grass-roots-activists wing of the organization today has chapters in 32 states, including Wisconsin, and an e-mail list of 1.6 million supporters, said Mary Ellen Burke, a spokeswoman. She would not say how much of last years $40 million budget came from the Koch family, but nationwide donations have come in from 70,000 members, she said, offering it as proof that it has wide support.

The organization has taken up a range of topics, including combating the health care law, environmental regulations and spending by state and federal governments. The effort to impose limits on public labor unions has been a particular focus in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states with Republican governors, Mr. Phillips said, adding that he expects new proposals to emerge soon in some of those states to limit union power.

To Bob Edgar, a former House Democrat who is now president of Common Cause, a liberal group that has been critical of what it sees as the rising influence of corporate interests in American politics, the Koch brothers are using their money to create a faade of grass-roots support for their favorite causes.

This is a dangerous moment in America history, Mr. Edgar said. It is not that these folks dont have a right to participate in politics. But they are moving democracy into the control of more wealthy corporate hands.

During a demonstration outside the Wisconsin Capitol Monday, one protester made a similar point, holding a sign saying: Gov. Walker: Kick the Koch Habit.

But Mr. Phillips and members of his group and other conservative activists, not surprisingly, see it very differently.

Just as unions organize to fight for their priorities, conservatives are entitled to a voice of their own.

This is a watershed moment in Wisconsin, Mr. Phillips said. For the last two decades, government unions have used their power to drive pensions and benefits and salaries well beyond anything that can be sustained. We are just trying to change that.

Steven Greenhouse contributed reporting from Madison, Wis.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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