Recalled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won the special election against Tom Barrett on Tuesday, his 7 point win an improvement over the 6-point 2010 margin of victory. And as for the $21 million FOX News reported organized labor to have poured into the recall sweepstakes? Call it a crap shoot designed in the hope of recouping some portion of the stunning losses unions have suffered over the past 24 months.
Two Walker-sponsored laws have decimated both the power and bank accounts of government sector unions, the first making Wisconsin a right-to-work state and the next doing away with the dues check-off so prized by organized labor. The check-off privilege means “…government seizes union dues straight from workers’ paychecks. The union hierarchy spends that cash on politicking to elect favored candidates. And then the politicians do the union bosses’ bidding.”
Adding insult to injury, along with the check-off generated, automatic payroll deduction, a “service fee” is charged equal to the amount of an employee’s union dues! All of this money which used to go directly into union coffers is now lost.
And thanks to the right to opt out of union membership, AFSCME (the 2nd largest union in Wisconsin) has seen its membership rolls dwindle from 62,818 in March of 2011 to 28,745 in February of 2012, nearly a 60% decline.
Wisconsin’s public unions have paid dearly in their losing battle against freedom for state workers. In 2011, they spent millions trying to put leftist judge Anne Kloppenburg on the State Supreme Court. Vowing to act as “…a check and balance against overreaching by the executive and legislative branches,” it was obvious Kloppenburg would be the vital liberal vote necessary to swing decisions of the Court to the benefit of labor. She was defeated by incumbent conservative, David Prosser.
Labor also backed Wisconsin Democrat state senators’ flight to Illinois in order to avoid voting on a budget bill that required government employees to pay a portion of their own employee benefits. As the bill also gutted public union bargaining rights, labor was intent upon delaying the vote until Senate Republicans could be intimidated into seeing things their way. In the end, labor bosses succeeded only in spending a fortune and making Democrat Senators look ridiculous.
The largest unions in Wisconsin are teacher’s unions, and the largest of these, the Wisconsin Education Association (WEA) has spent decades running a highly profitable, “non-profit” health insurance scheme. According to state law, collective bargaining rather than price and quality of coverage determined the company that would provide health insurance for union teachers and covered employees. And coincidentally, the WEA invariably chose WEA Trust, an insurance provider that just happened to be “established by and closely associated with the union.”
But upon passage of the Walker-supported law cinching the loss of collective bargaining rights by public sector unions, school districts are now permitted to shop among numerous quality providers. In one example of switching from WEA Trust to another carrier with comparable coverages, the Heartland-Lakeside School District “expects to save $690,000 in the [next] fiscal year.”
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