As Keith Olbermann noted in his opening, "The real life impact of Republican Scott Walker's anti-union wage is now taking shape, manifest in a mass exodus of public workers, choosing to retire in lieu of accepting the draconian cuts in benefits and collective bargaining rights."
When students return Thursday for the first day of school across Wisconsin, many familiar faces will be gone, as teachers chose retirement over coming back in the wake of a new law that forces them to pay more for benefits while taking away most of their collective bargaining rights.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press under the state's open records law show that about twice as many public school teachers decided to hang it up in the first half of this year as in each of the past two full years, part of a mass exit of public employees. [...]
In the first six months of 2011, overall public employee retirements were double that in all of either 2009 or 2010, according to data provided to the AP by the Wisconsin Retirement System. That includes 4,935 Wisconsin school district employees who started receiving retirement benefits, up from 2,527 teacher retirements in all of 2010 and 2,417 in 2009.
Teachers weren't the only ones heading for the exits. State agency retirements were particularly dramatic, nearly tripling from 747 in all of 2010 to 1,966 through June. Retirements from the University of Wisconsin System more than doubled, up from 480 last year to 1,091 this year. All told, 9,933 public workers had retired by the end of June, a 93 percent increase from 5,133 in 2010. The year before, there were 4,876 retirements.
The state Department of Administration said no decision has been made on how many of the government jobs will be filled.
"Each agency is looking at the vacancies created by retirements — case by case — and making decisions based on the needs of the agency, as well as with an eye toward keeping costs down for taxpayers," said DOA spokeswoman Carla Vigue.
Keith followed up with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello who was in Wisconsin earlier this year to join the protests -- Tom Morello Rages Against Anti-Union Bill at Wisconsin Rally:
Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello spent Monday at the Wisconsin protests, performing acoustic songs at a rally and delivering a fiery speech to the thousands inside of the capital rotunda who are protesting Governor Walker’s attempt to end the right of state employees to collectively bargain. "What's happened so far might be the most inspiring 24 hours of my life as an activist," Morello tells Rolling Stone. "I've never seen this kind of outpouring of unapologetic, steel-backboned support for union causes in the United States. The Madison police were delivering bratwurst to the protesters inside the capitol, and the kids were thanking them. It was unbelievable." [...]
If Governor Walker’s bill passes, it would effectively destroy Wisconsin’s civil servant unions; many fear that other Republican-controlled states would attempt to follow suit. "I come from a coal-mining town in central Illinois where everybody was union," says Morello. "For almost 30 years, my mom was a public high school teacher in Libertyville, Illinois. I grew up with a firm belief that the leverage we have as working people is through the union. It's the only counterweight to the raw greed of corporate power. For the past 22 years, I've been a union man in L.A. as a member of the Professional Musicians Local 47."
And as Susie noted back in April:
A new anthem for workers from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Visit http://saveworkers.org to join the fight and download "Union Town" for free.
The cool video by Revolution Messaging, directed and edited by Robin Bell.