Early last year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infuriated the union hierarchy, in his own state and nationwide, 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, 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.
But 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.
Ultimately, S.B.11 was sent to Gov. Walker’s desk, and on March 11, 2011, he signed into law the measure now known as Act 10.
‘[T]o Get Things Out of the Contract and Make Needed Changes Was Impossible’
Act 10, formally known as the Budget Repair Act of 2011, took effect last 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 and monopoly-bargaining 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 Vice President Mary King. “And Act 10 has already reaped major benefits for taxpayers, public schools, and other local government agencies.
“Act 10 has enabled Wisconsin to eliminate, without increasing taxes, a state budget deficit that was projected in February 2011 to reach $3.6 billion over two years.
“At the same time, by rolling back government union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges, this reform has made it far less difficult for local elected officials to spend the resources they have prudently, so as to provide taxpayers good services at a reasonable cost.”
For example, prior to Act 10, the Hartland-Lakeside School District in suburban Milwaukee was contractually bound to reimburse teachers for college classes they took, even if those classes were totally irrelevant to their jobs.
“[T]o get things out of the contract and make needed changes was impossible,” recalled Hartland-Lakeside Superintendant Glenn Schilling in recent correspondence with the Michigan-based Education Action Group.
But Mr. Schilling reports things are very different now: “With Act 10, that is gone. We only pay for credits if it’s a direct benefit to the district.”
AFL-CIO Czar Determined To Punish Pro-Right to Work Elected Officials
Not surprisingly, union bigwigs are out for revenge against Mr. Walker and other elected officials who helped pass the Budget Repair Act.
As part of its ongoing campaign to obtain vengeance and ultimately repeal Act 10, Big Labor has repeatedly launched petition campaigns for “recall” elections of supporters of the measure. Last August the union machine succeeded in ousting two pro-Act 10 state senators from office.
This year, union bosses led by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka have targeted Mr. Walker, Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and four pro-Right to Work state senators for “recall” efforts. And one of the senators in Big Labor’s gun sights has already resigned from office.
The “recall” elections, in which Mr. Walker, Ms. Kleefisch, and their Senate allies are likely to face pro-forced unionism challengers, are now scheduled for June 5.
“In an interview late last year with Esquire magazine, Richard Trumka actually likened Scott Walker to ‘Lucifer.’ The union bosses are clearly prepared to spend millions upon millions of forced-dues dollars to scuttle Act 10 and humiliate its supporters,” said Ms. King.
“But the Committee and our members will fight back with all our might. As the ‘recall’ elections approach, we will contact hundreds of thousands of identified Right to Work supporters in Wisconsin to ensure they understand exactly what is at stake, and act accordingly on Election Day.”
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