Why do unions see the recall election of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a “must win?”
The answer is actually quite simple – because the dramatic losses in membership public unions have experienced under him could be a harbinger of something that might occur nationwide:
Failure to oust Mr. Walker and overturn the Wisconsin law "spells doom," said Bryan Kennedy, the American Federation of Teachers’ Wisconsin president.
A victory by Mr. Walker "will be a dramatic signal to local and state politicians they can, in the name of fiscal responsibility, tell unions…to come into parity with private-sector workers, especially on benefits," said Michael Lotito, a San Francisco attorney who represents management in labor disputes and has testified on labor issues before Congress.
Yeah, that would be horrible, wouldn’t it, since private-sector workers get less in benefits than do most public sector workers.
Gov. Walker took some steps to curb public sector union power in the state soon after taking office:
The Walker law sharply curbed collective bargaining for nearly all the state’s public-employee unions except those for police and firefighters. Unions no longer can represent members in negotiations for better working conditions or for pay raises beyond the increase in inflation.
He also gave union members an actual choice of membership by no longer allowing the state to collect the dues for public sector unions.
Choice – that freedom prerequisite – has seen membership drop dramatically:
Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers—fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.
Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.
And the American Federation of Teachers union"?
In the nearly 15 months since Mr. Walker signed the law, 6,000 of the AFT’s Wisconsin 17,000 members quit, the union said. It blamed the drop on the law.
Amazing what will happen when “members” aren’t coerced into becoming or staying members.
According to the most recent Marquette poll, Walker is leading his Democratic rival by 7 points. His state’s structural fiscal insolvency has been remedied by making public union workers bear more of the cost of their benefits (while still being over 20% higher than private sector benefits).
In other words, he’s actually done something to solve the problems he was elected to tackle.
Perhaps that’s why a state that went 14 points for Obama in 2008 is plus 7 on his side in this recall farce.
And it is equally easy to see why the unions are in panic mode.