Early this year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infuriated the union hierarchy, in his own state and nationally, when he introduced legislation (S.B.11) that would abolish forced union dues for teachers and many other public employees and also sharply limit the scope of government union monopoly bargaining.
In response, teacher union bosses in Madison, Milwaukee, and other cities called teachers out on illegal strikes so they could stage angry protests at the state capitol and at legislators’ residences.
Government union militants issued dozens of death threats against Mr. Walker, members of his administration, and their families. Fourteen Big Labor-backed state senators, all Democrats, temporarily fled the state to deny the pro-S.B.11 Senate majority a quorum to pass the bill.
In raucous demonstrations, union bigwigs and their radical followers actually suggested Mr. Walker’s support for public employees’ Right to Work made him similar to Mubarak, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, or even Satan.
(This fall, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave his personal imprimatur to such ugly vituperation when he likened the Wisconsin governor to “Lucifer” in an interview published in Esquire magazine.)
Thanks in part to public support mobilized by the National Right to Work Committee’s e-mail and telecommunications activities, pro-Right to Work legislators were able to withstand the Big Labor fury and send S.B.11 to Gov. Walker’s desk. On March 11, he signed into law the measure now known as Act 10.
Forced-Unionism Supporters Pumped More Than $40 Million Into 2011 ‘Recall’ Elections
Act 10, formally known as the Budget Repair Act of 2011, took effect in June after fending off a union boss-inspired legal challenge in state court.
Act 10 now protects most public employees from being fired for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union, but leaves untouched the forced-dues privileges of most public safety and transportation union bosses.
“Despite its unfortunate exclusions, this law represents a step forward for public employees’ free choice,” said Committee President Mark Mix.
“Not surprisingly, union bigwigs are out for revenge against Mr. Walker and the legislators who helped pass the Budget Repair Act.”
As part of its ongoing campaign to obtain vengeance and ultimately repeal the Budget Repair Act, early this year Big Labor launched petition campaigns for “recall” elections of many Senate supporters of the measure.
In August, special recall elections in which pro-forced unionism candidates challenged six pro-Right to Work senators took place. Three union-label Democrat senators who had opposed Act 10, and temporarily fled the state to stop it from passing, also faced recall votes this summer.
Union bigwigs and their Democratic allies pumped more than $40 million into the nine state Senate races.
In the end, the unprecedentedly expensive legislative recall push by Big Labor enjoyed some success, as two of the six pro-Act 10 senators went down to defeat, while all three forced-unionism senators held on to their seats. However, the union political machine fell short of capturing the three seats it needed to relegate pro-Act 10 Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (Juneau) to minority status and reassume control of the chamber.
Democratic Mayor: Under Act 10, Milwaukee Will Save ‘At Least $25 Million a Year’
And that same month, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Scott Walker’s Democratic opponent in 2010 and a bitter foe of Act 10, publicly admitted that, thanks to this very legislation, his city would save “at least $25 million a year — and potentially as much as $36 million in 2012 . . . .”
In addition to significantly reducing the fiscal strain on local governments, Act 10 has enabled Wisconsin to eliminate, without increasing taxes, a gaping state budget deficit that was projected this February to reach $3.6 billion over two years.
Finally, unlike localities in a number of other states in the Midwest and elsewhere where politicians have refused to take on government union bosses’ monopolistic special privileges, Wisconsin cities, towns and counties are not being required to resort to massive layoffs to stay solvent.
Despite all the good news that has emerged over the past few months, union officials in Wisconsin and nationwide remain as determined as ever to overturn Act 10 and reinstate compulsory union dues and fees for all types of state and local public employees.
A Huge Setback For Ohio, But a Pyrrhic Victory For Union Officials
And in 2012 Big Labor intends to continue pouring workers’ dues money into expensive recall election campaigns as part of its ongoing program to kill Act 10. First on the new list of recall targets is Scott Walker himself.
In November, Wisconsin union bosses and their allied politicians officially launched a two-month drive to collect the roughly 540,000 signatures needed to force Mr. Walker into a recall election next spring. Several prominent state Democrats, including Mr. Barrett, are openly considering running against Mr. Walker should the recall take place.
Meanwhile, in another Midwestern state that was a 2011 battleground over government forced unionism, taxpayers have already lost.
This fall, union bosses from across the country spent upwards of $50 million to forestall enforcement of an Ohio public-sector labor law reform package enacted the same month as the Badger State’s and similar in key regards.
Ohio’s S.B.5 included provisions protecting the Right to Work of all categories of state and local employees, including public-safety and transportation workers. It also reduced the scope of government union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges in several other ways.
Big Labor first stopped S.B.5 from taking effect, and then dipped deep into its forced dues-funded treasuries to outspend proponents vastly and kill the measure in the cradle. This was a huge setback for Ohio — and, at the same time, a pyrrhic victory for union strategists.
The tactics to which Big Labor resorted in Ohio have a strong potential to backfire on the union brass in the near future.
Major School, Public-Safety Layoffs Appear Inevitable In Buckeye State Next Year
The TV and radio ads with which the union hierarchy flooded the Ohio airwaves from September through early November successfully diverted public attention from what S.B.5 would actually do.
“You would never have guessed it from the Big Labor ads, but S.B.5 would not have reduced at all the amount of money the state of Ohio doles out to local schools and police and fire departments,” noted Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee.
“Had it gone into effect, however, S.B.5 would have made it far less difficult for local elected officials to spend whatever money they did have at their disposal prudently, so as to provide taxpayers good services at a reasonable cost.
“And it would have protected each individual public servant’s freedom to join or not join a union.
“Now Big Labor has quashed this reform, but clearly not convinced Ohio voters their already high taxes should be even higher. That means Ohio localities, unlike Wisconsin localities, will almost certainly have to resort to mass layoffs over the next few months to keep from going broke.
“If union chiefs’ ongoing bid to subject Scott Walker to a recall election succeeds in Wisconsin, by the time he has to face the voters next year he will be able to point to a quite telling contrast between the outlook in Ohio, where Big Labor ultimately got its way in 2011, and in his state, where it didn’t.
“The contrast will not be helpful for the union political operatives who are seeking to punish Mr. Walker.
“And over time, residents of other fiscally troubled government union stronghold states will be able to see for themselves who was telling the truth in Ohio and Wisconsin, and act accordingly. That’s why, all in all, 2011 has been a hopeful year for America.”