Like a lot of states, Wisconsin is in dire fiscal shape, facing a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. Desperate to avoid layoffs yet still put his state’s financial house in order, newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would strip Wisconsin’s state employees – whose bloated pensions and benefit packages have significantly contributed to the mess - of most of its collective bargaining rights (police and firefighters are exempted).

Under the new plan, state employee’s own contributions to their pension and health care plans would increase to 5.8 percent and 12.6 percent of their pay, respectively. They would still retain the right to be represented by a union, but the unions would no longer be able to force members to pay dues.

In addition, unions’ ability to secure a pay increase above a fixed threshold would be severely curtailed. The bill would result in estimated savings of $30 million over the next five months and $300 million over the next two years. In exchange for these concessions from the unions, Walker has promised not to let any of the state’s 170,000 employees go.