February 19, 2011
JOHN FUND: WHAT’S AT STAKE IN WISCONSIN: Plus, why the unions are really upset:
Labor historian Fred Siegel offers further reasons why unions are manning the barricades. Mr. Walker would require that public-employee unions be recertified annually by a majority vote of all their members, not merely by a majority of those that choose to cast ballots. In addition, he would end the government’s practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. For Wisconsin teachers, union dues total between $700 and $1,000 a year.
“Ending dues deductions breaks the political cycle in which government collects dues, gives them to the unions, who then use the dues to back their favorite candidates and also lobby for bigger government and more pay and benefits,” Mr. Siegel told me. After New York City’s Transport Workers Union lost the right to automatic dues collection in 2007 following an illegal strike, its income fell by more than 35% as many members stopped ponying up.
But it seems to me that they’re feeling the heat, since the unions are now starting to offer concessions. Not that one, though. . . .
UPDATE: Reader M. Simon writes that they got the year wrong: “Democrats think it is 1933 when it is actually 1773.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Corlazzoli recommends this counter-protest maneuver:
Have the home schooling parents set up tents in the parking lots of shuttered schools and invite parents to bring their kids down for a day of learning using the materials approved by the school system. Invite the media and hope for an arrest or two.
UPDATE: Reader Allan Rossmore writes:
The Wisconsin unions don’t seem to understand that Gov. Walker is just following what they have always asked for. Wealth redistribution. They say that the wealthy should share with the poor. Well, right now, the private sector worker makes about half of what the public sector worker does. Seems like the wealthy public sector should share.
Also, only a very small minority of private workers are unionized. Most of those unionized jobs have become so cost prohibitive that they are now overseas. I would say that with today’s technologies, those unionized school teachers could also be outsourced. Maybe they cannot see the writing on the wall. Or maybe they do.
Unions aren’t for wealth redistribution in general. Just in particular.
Plus, some amusing turnabout from reader Bill Marcy.