The chart explains why the employees of the State of Wisconsin are so important to the national unions and the national Democratic Party. Membership in unions, the Party’s number one source of financial and volunteer support, has been shrinking for decades.
Only in the public sector are unions still strong, and still collecting the dues that support Democratic candidates and progressive causes.
Governor Walker’s reforms enacted last year:
- Reduced employees’ take-home pay by requiring them to contribute more of the cost of their retirement and health insurance benefits.
- Restricted collective bargaining only to a percentage of base wage no greater than the increase in the consumer price index. So, if there was 3% inflation last year the largest wage increase the new law would allow the union and the state/county/city employers to negotiate would be 3%. Benefits and working conditions would not be subject to collective bargaining.
- Ended the practice of forcing employees to pay union dues via payroll deduction. Dues payment are now voluntary.
- Required an annual re-certification election in each bargaining unit. The union will not continue in power without a yes vote from a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit.
Unions acquire the power to represent employees, to bind them to contracts with employers, and collect dues from them, in certification elections. Virtually all the people who voted in the Wisconsin state employee certification elections decades ago have since retired or died. But the unions continued in power anyway. Current employees had no choice about joining a union before the Walker reforms. Membership was a condition of employment.
Perhaps An indicator of how many union members were voluntary and how many were forced is a Wall Street Journal report that since the Walker reforms were enacted membership in Wisconsin’s Teachers Union dropped by 35% and membership in the main, non-teacher, public employee union is down by 54%.
The Democratic-union-media side of the argument is that Governor Walker’s real agenda is union busting. That’s true as far as it goes. The rest of the truth is that the union-Democratic Party alliance exists to concentrate wealth and power in federal and state governments resulting in less individual liberty and greater economic misery.
The Democratic Party and government unions have a symbiotic relationship with no equivalent on the Republican side. The unions provide millions of dollars collected from members to ensure the continuous re-election of Democrats, who ensure the continuous expansion of government, creating more union jobs which then generate more dues revenue, and even larger campaign donations in return.
Most of the media support the party line that the unions’ hysterical protests of 2011 and the three recall elections they have mounted since then have something to do with “fundamental rights” to collective bargaining. But there is no such fundamental right. In fact public employees weren’t even allowed to join unions in most of the country until the the 1960s because in Wisconsin and across the nation they are protected by civil service laws. These laws ensure greater job security than anyone in the private sector could ever expect. Civil Service law is not dependent upon unions. It has not changed in Wisconsin since the Walker reforms that weakened unions were enacted.
Under previous Wisconsin law the unions “bargained” with state, county and city officials to develop contracts that establish the wages, benefits and working conditions of state, county and city employees. But when those officials owe their jobs to campaign funding by the unions everyone sits on the same side of the bargaining table. Nobody represents the taxpayers and and the system screams conflict of interest.
Fewer union members means union dues revenue dries up and campaign funding for Democrats dries up with it.