Union Bosses Out For Revenge in Wisconsin

The implementation and retention of its new state public-sector Right to Work law are critical for Wisconsin's efforts to furnish relief for taxpaying individuals and businesses and reinvigorate private-sector income growth. Credit: Rick McKee/Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle

 Pro-Right to Work Legislators Targeted in July ‘Recall’ Elections

(Source: June 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)

For at least a decade leading up to the election of Right to Work advocate Scott Walker (R) as governor, Wisconsin, like many other forced-unionism states, was on an unsustainable fiscal path.

From 2000 through 2010, total taxpayer costs for compensation of Wisconsin state and local government employees grew by an inflation-adjusted 9.2%, to a total of $19.83 billion last year.

By 2010, state and local government compensation swallowed up the equivalent of nearly 17% of all private-sector wages, salaries, bonuses and benefits in Wisconsin.

And over the past decade Badger State government employee compensation grew more than two-and-a-half times as fast as private-sector employee compensation, in percentage terms.

Upon Taking Office, Governor Properly Focused His Energy On Forced-Dues Repeal Measure

This happened even as the markets for several key public employee services were shrinking. From 1999 to 2009, for example, U.S. Census Bureau data show the number of K-12 school-aged Wisconsinites (that is, 5-17 year-olds) declined by 6.9%.

As a gubernatorial candidate last year, Scott Walker vowed to help steer Wisconsin onto another path, along which private-sector wages, salaries, and benefits would grow more rapidly while the size of government payrolls was kept in check.

Voters responded positively, electing Mr. Walker by a 52% to 46% margin over union-label Democrat Tom Barrett.

Soon after he became governor, Mr. Walker heeded Right to Work advocates and made repeal of Wisconsin’s 1971 labor-law amendment authorizing the extraction of forced union dues from public servants as a job condition a major part of his budget reform package (S.B.11).

Public-Sector Right to Work Fosters Private-Sector Income Growth

“Union bigwigs scoffed at the idea that restoring public servants’ freedom to refuse to join or pay dues to a union would help revive Wisconsin’s private sector,” recalled National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen.

“But Mr. Walker and the Wisconsin state senators and assemblymen who ultimately succeeded in sending S.B.11 to his desk for his signature in March, despite ferocious Big Labor opposition, had their priorities right.

“Though at first blush the connection may not seem obvious, the fact is, protecting the Right to Work of public-sector employees does foster private-sector economic growth.

“Over the past decade, in the 28 states that either have Right to Work laws banning all forced union dues, or at least have no statute explicitly authorizing public-sector forced unionism, real private-sector compensation grew by a healthy 10.1%.

“That’s nearly triple Wisconsin’s private-sector compensation growth, and 10 times the average for the 22 states with public-sector forced-unionism statutes.”

Mr. Leen explained: “Wherever government union chiefs wield forced-dues powers, a huge portion of the loot they rake in goes into efforts to elect and reelect state and local, as well as federal, Big Labor politicians. Such politicians have a broad agenda that greatly impedes private-sector job and income growth.

“The new Wisconsin public-sector Right to Work law, although it unfortunately excludes public-safety employees, is a step forward for private-sector growth and a major step forward for public employees’ free choice.”

Important Right to Work Victory Now in Jeopardy

“Unfortunately, Big Labor-backed litigation has so far prevented the Right to Work law from taking effect, and union strategists are already plotting to repeal it,” Mr. Leen noted.

As part of its campaign to wipe S.B.11 off the books permanently, Big Labor several months ago launched petition campaigns for “recall elections” this year of eight state Senate supporters of this legislation.

Elections in which pro-forced unionism candidates will be challenging six of the pro-Right to Work senators are now scheduled for July 12. Three union-label Democrat senators who opposed S.B.11 and temporarily fled the state to stop supporters from achieving a quorum may also face “recall” votes in the near future.

Mr. Leen vowed that the National Committee would go all out to help freedom-loving Wisconsinites protect S.B.11 and, especially, mobilize pro-Right to Work citizens in the Senate districts targeted for “recall” votes.