What happens when a state no longer forces workers into a union?

posted at 10:41 am on June 1, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Popquiz, hotshots*: You have public-employee unions that force public-sector employees to pay dues and make the state act as their bagman.  The state refuses to collect dues and changes the law to make dues and union membership entirely voluntary.  What do people do?

That’s easy … they quit paying the dues:

Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership—by more than half for the second-biggest union—since a law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker sharply curtailed their ability to bargain over wages and working conditions.

Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers—fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.

Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.

A provision of the Walker law that eliminated automatic dues collection hurt union membership. When a public-sector contract expires the state now stops collecting dues from the affected workers’ paychecks unless they say they want the dues taken out, said Peter Davis, general counsel of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

In many cases, Afscme dropped members from its rolls after it failed to get them to affirm they want dues collected, said a labor official familiar with Afscme’s figures.

That’s the reason that the PEUs hit the panic button in February 2011.  They knew that the law would severely cut into their membership once the state refused to force dues payments as a condition of employment.  This also undermines the credibility of union leaders who claim to speak for public-sector workers, as it shows a significant number of them don’t support the union at all, especially in the literal sense now.

Want to know what else happens when the state lets workers choose for themselves?  Presidents find other things to do than campaign in the state.  Byron York reports that Barack Obama will keep Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Democrats at arm’s length this week, wanting to avoid being connected with the upcoming results of the recall election:

Last year, when angry protesters filled the streets of Madison, Wis., denouncing Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curtail some union collective bargaining powers, President Obama was eager to associate himself with the union cause. “Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions,” Obama told a Milwaukee TV reporter in February 2011.

Now, it’s just days until voters decide whether to recall Walker — an effort started, maintained and financed by the unions. If the polls are correct, Walker, who is being challenged by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, seems headed toward keeping his job. And now, the president is not only no longer talking about Wisconsin, he’s actually seeking to distance himself from next week’s likely Democratic defeat. …

The latest poll on the recall battle shows why Obama is staying away. It’s not just that he doesn’t want to appear with a loser. Perhaps just as importantly, there is no advantage for Obama to risk his own popularity by making a high-profile visit to oppose policies that are finding increasing favor with voters.

In other words, it’s pretty much a win all the way around.  Too bad our own state legislature didn’t put the right-to-work amendment on the November ballot this year, or we might have frightened Obama off from his Twin Cities visit this morning.

* – Apologies to the late Dennis Hopper.


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Public employee unions are totally immoral.

tom daschle concerned on June 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

awwww….little barry has to run away when things don’t go his way. oh poor little butch, masculine, tough man barry.

GhoulAid on June 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

So last week I was on a plane from San Francisco to Atlanta (window seat) next to two ladies who said they were from Wisconsin. I mentioned their state had been in the news of late. One of them responds..we are both teachers. “Have I seen you on the news?” Figured it was a long flight and I might need to get up at some point so kept it all civil. As they were getting up in Atlanta, I told them it was a pleasure to meet them..then ended with “VOTE SCOTT WALKER”…their look was priceless…glad I didn’t say it earlier!!

LARR
USN-RET

Larr on June 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

That great originalist and conservative Franklin Roosevelt was against public sector unions. He actually feared even he wouldn’t be able to control them.

Rixon on June 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

But….but….but HE is The Obamassiah! ALL things are possible with HIM. NONE can withstand HIS piercing rhetoric!

GarandFan on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers—fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures.

In other words, 34,073 public-sector employees got a raise in their paychecks this year, thanks to Governor Walker.

Steve Z on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

PEUs: an idea so good, it has to be mandatory for people to subscribe to it.

Meric1837 on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

That’s the reason that the PEUs hit the panic button in February 2011. They knew that the law would severely cut into their membership CLUB MEMBERSHIPS, DAILY PEDICURES AND MERCEDES QUOTAS.

Fixed

mankai on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Romney Presidency, Day Two:

America dismantles PEU’s, the next golden age of freedom begins.

cajun carrot on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Larr on June 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Awesome. :)

mankai on June 1, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I’d like to know if there has been a similar decline in membership for SEIU of WI. That’d be frosting on the cake.

Wendy on June 1, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Tee hee.

J.E. Dyer on June 1, 2012 at 10:50 AM

We have the opposite issue here in Blue Mass. The 1 party rule on Bacon Hill (D) is about to force all child care workers into a union. You see, they need more campaign donations (new union members dues), and this pays back (quid pro quo) the big unions that keep getting the same losers re-elected.

Democrats force unionization on private daycare owners:

http://www.examiner.com/article/democrats-force-unionization-on-private-daycare-owners-through-egregious-bill

shanimal on June 1, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Popquiz, hotshots*: You have public-employee unions that force public-sector employees to pay dues and make the state act as their bagman. The state refuses to collect dues and changes the law to make dues and union membership entirely voluntary. What do people do?

Um, Ed, you gave us the answer. So, did we all get A’s?

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership—by more than half for the second-biggest union—since a law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker sharply curtailed their ability to bargain over wages and working conditions.

Didn’t I hear somewhere that this number would have been significantly higher but several large school districts pushed through contract renewals just prior to the effective date of the law?

Lost in Jersey on June 1, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Public employee unions are totally immoral.

tom daschle concerned on June 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Not entirely. Let them have their unions but strip them of the ability to compel tribute and certainly strip them of their collective bargaining ‘rights’. In other words, make them analogous to private sector unions.

CorporatePiggy on June 1, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Other states need to follow the Walker model.

franciscodanconia on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

I am still worried about the recall. The MJS here in the state really used strong wording on the whole “John Doe” investigation… claiming that Walker “stonewalled” access to some records.

Before the story came out of course, Walker was asked for a comment, which it was said that they were “UNABLE” to provide the records that were requested at that time because the person who was being investigated DID NOT PROVIDE THEM.

Of course, the MJS did not include this in the story. I guess that stonewalling and unable to provide is the same thing now.

This is why I am still worried, Walker has a lot of people gunning on him.

watertown on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

awesome news

tommer74 on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Obama avoids it [visiting the state], that’s what.

You mean you can keep Obama out of your state just by doing that? Sounds like a winner to me!

jwolf on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership—by more than half for the second-biggest union

…so are they now Un-American?

KOOLAID2 on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

This is really great news coming from Wisconsin!!

“Well played, Mauer…”

Khun Joe on June 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM

mankai on June 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Garry Trudeau has been worthless for decades now.

Back in the days when he at least pretended to be more even-handed (late 70s?), he had Ambassador Duke say to Honey, his Chinese interpreter, something along the lines of, “All union bosses admire the middle class – that’s why they do everything they can to get out of it.”

ya2daup on June 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM

I love that Barry won’t set foot over the border into ‘Sconnie to help a brother out. His (lack of) character is revealed over and over again.

I live near Honeywell. Looks like I’ll be detouring to the bar to avoid the circus on the way home today.

Nordeast on June 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM

This is what the whole thing was about all along. The money. Greedy unions wanted all the money.

forest on June 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Um, Ed, you gave us the answer. So, did we all get A’s?

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Nope, Solid B+.

cajun carrot on June 1, 2012 at 11:06 AM

You know the best part. everyone who is now not paying dues is Not going to vote against walker.

gerrym51 on June 1, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Public school teachers need that union dues money to send their kids to private school.

RBMN on June 1, 2012 at 11:07 AM

You mean you can keep Obama out of your state just by doing that? Sounds like a winner to me!

jwolf on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Note to Governor McDonnell- Do this!

Happy Nomad on June 1, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Those numbers a jaw dropping…

PatriotRider on June 1, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Not really. Compelling people to support political parties is not popular with significant left and right leaning people.

How would many HAer’s feel about being compelled to fund the RNC? Might Pi**ed I bet…

CorporatePiggy on June 1, 2012 at 11:10 AM

This is what the whole thing was about all along. The money.

forest on June 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Not just the money but also the forced participation. Because, of course, the unions knew that they were toast if the state stopped collecting for them.

Happy Nomad on June 1, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Public school teachers need that union dues money to send their kids to private school.

RBMN on June 1, 2012 at 11:07 AM

I laugh ’cause it’s true.

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Those folks dropping out of the unions better watch out … they should expect tire-slashings, threatening phone calls, and dog poopie on their porches.

KS Rex on June 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Oh how we all HOPE we are having a celebration on Tuesday night over this. Would love to see a landslide victory for Walker but people need to make it happen. I’d be happy to drive the 50,000 dead registered voters in Florida there if I could. Not sure how much space they would need in my car.

sdbatboy on June 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM

By September Barky will only dare to visit two states, Cali and NY, where liberalism, zombie voters and out-of-control spending thrive.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM

I’m sure that dues money is being much better spent by the individuals who earned it than having it siphoned out of their paychecks for the benefit of the bloodsucking union leeches. And I wish there was something we could do in my state to keep the blighted one out, but unfortunately his residence is here.

stukinIL4now on June 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM

By September Barky will only dare to visit two states, Cali and NY, where liberalism, zombie voters and out-of-control spending thrive.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Throw Chicago in there and I think you have the reelection game plan. (I know, Chicago isn’t a state but the voting population of Chicago [real or corrupted] rules the State of Illinois.)

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM

You mean you can keep Obama out of your state just by doing that? Sounds like a winner to me!

jwolf on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Now if we could just keep him off the air-waves. I am so tired of listening to his lies, I have to change the channel whenever he is on.

Christian Conservative on June 1, 2012 at 11:22 AM

“What happens when a state no longer forces workers into a union?”

The people rejoice that the boot of liberal fascism has been lifted.

locomotivebreath1901 on June 1, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Other states need to follow the Walker model.

I think we can offer WI $1 billion to to swap elected officials with us here in CA.

sdbatboy on June 1, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Fallon,

Any chance we could see Obama pull a Gore and lose his home state?

Illinois that is, not Hawaii or Kenya.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

This also undermines the credibility of union leaders who claim to speak for public-sector workers, as it shows a significant number of them don’t support the union at all, especially in the literal sense now.

In Union Land, they’ve got things backward. It has become axiomatic that the needs of the few leaders outweigh the needs of the many. Perhaps if union leaders would just watch more Star Trek, they wouldn’t lose so many members.

MessesWithTexas on June 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Sorry – but it was THE SOUTHERN STATES that paved this road with “right to work”.

Wisconsin – you’re welcomed!

We have lots of other successful ideas for you too – like maybe political extermination of Dimmocrits. We’ve pretty much done it in Louisiana, though we keep two of them around as a zoological curio.

HondaV65 on June 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Fallon,

Any chance we could see Obama pull a Gore and lose his home state?

Illinois that is, not Hawaii or Kenya.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

I didn’t realize until now, that Kenya was our 57th state.

MessesWithTexas on June 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM

* – Apologies to the late Dennis Hopper.

“What do you do??” Boom
Love the Speed reference.

bluealice on June 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Fallon,

Any chance we could see Obama pull a Gore and lose his home state?

Illinois that is, not Hawaii or Kenya.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

And that will be significant … how?

I don’t expect for Willy McDole to win Massachusettes.

HondaV65 on June 1, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Once again, the progs prove to anyone paying attention that they are anti-choice.

Once again, the citizenry proves to the politicians that they trust their own judgement more than that of the government.

It really should be a fairly simple equation. Any law which tells folks what they MUST do with their money, is created and supported by progs, and is designed for no purpose but control.

Still, none of this is as insane as the Resident considering slashing medical benefits for veterans in the name of “deficit reduction”.

Freelancer on June 1, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Tuesday, we’re all Cheeseheads.

Go Pack! Go Badgers!

MNHawk on June 1, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Any chance we could see Obama pull a Gore and lose his home state?

Illinois that is, not Hawaii or Kenya.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Sorry, no way. Illinois (my state; true confession) is hopelessly lost to the Dems for the foreseeable future. Obama won’t get the sky high margin here that he did in 08 but he will win easily. Even, hypothetically, if it were close the Chicago machine would make sure he wouldn’t suffer an embarrassing loss here.

jwolf on June 1, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Throw Chicago in there and I think you have the reelection game plan. (I know, Chicago isn’t a state but the voting population of Chicago [real or corrupted] rules the State of Illinois.)

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM

To be clear, the same is true of California. The metro centers around three major counties produce more than 90% of the liberal votes. More than 75% of the state’s counties lean Conservative.

Freelancer on June 1, 2012 at 11:36 AM

HondaV65,

Yeah you’re right. Obama losing Illinois would be insignificant.

LOL

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Any chance we could see Obama pull a Gore and lose his home state?

Illinois that is, not Hawaii or Kenya.

fogw on June 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

No. No chance at all.

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM

For those who don’t click on links:

On April 5, 2011 a group of citizens from various political parties and the tea party, equipped with audit questionnaires based on the Chicago Board of Election’s, Election Judge Training Guide, visited 239 polling places in Chicago to score the CBoE’s compliance with their own security protocols. The objective of the security assessment (the Audit) was to test enforcement of security protocols that are in place to protect our ballot.

The results were stunning: 210 precincts (91%) failed on one or more of the 11 critical security measures that were evaluated, 66% of them failed on more than one measure. 59% of the time, the CBoE failed to secure the ballot box.

Included in the report is an analysis of the security around the memory devices and the seals that safe guard them. The stack of boxes pictured below next to the open door, contain all of the memory devices used in voting equipment on Election Day in the City of Chicago. Each box has the memory devices for one Ward. These boxes were observed in this location during two separate trips to the warehouse…

Fallon on June 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Sorry, no way. Illinois (my state; true confession) is hopelessly lost to the Dems for the foreseeable future. Obama won’t get the sky high margin here that he did in 08 but he will win easily. Even, hypothetically, if it were close the Chicago machine would make sure he wouldn’t suffer an embarrassing loss here.

jwolf on June 1, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Yep, and democratics in Cook County will vote as many times as it takes to make it so.

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Mandatory union membership is nothing less than theft, pure and simple. I would never move to a state that didn’t have “Right to Work” in place. Go Walker! We are all Scott Walker!

RoadRunner on June 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Stocking up for Tuesday’s celebration, but a landslide is certainly necessary, considering all of the possible Necro-Americans, et al.

Sure do long for FAIR elections, but know it’s a pipe-dream.
Dammitall !!

pambi on June 1, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Big Union is a business that has not had to suffer with the normal regulations and taxation that other businesses have to, by claiming they are non profit, and for some good or other.

If they were so ideal, then why didn’t they offer their services for free? Why would you charge people to do them a favor?

Fleuries on June 1, 2012 at 12:08 PM

What happens when a state no longer forces workers into a union?

Phase 3: Profit

emz35 on June 1, 2012 at 12:08 PM

I hope the Badgers out there send Barrett home with an embarassing defeat, at least 60/40. Shove the results right down the throats of the PEUs.
Team Romney needs to help Walker’s turnout and then highlight the amazing cost savings he’s achieved so far as a national model. Then get Christie as VP to hammer it on home (if and only if Christie grooms a conservative successor to take over. I can’t stand another dummycrat in office here). Biden’s hairplugs might just pop right out thinking of debating the big man.

smfic on June 1, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Democrite fundraising hit hardest.

FlaMurph on June 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I think we can offer WI $1 billion to to swap elected officials with us here in CA.

sdbatboy on June 1, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Silly wabbit. You haven’t got a billion dollars.

trigon on June 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM

I wish Scott Walker had uttered the classic line “If you like your union, you can keep your union.” It would have had the benefit of being true while invoking the lies of Obamacare’s greatest proponent.

CitizenEgg on June 1, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Silly wabbit. You haven’t got a billion dollars.

trigon on June 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Au Contraire…as long as the printing presses are running (Federal Union workers there too), Californian and the other top 4 States that are near the brink of financial ruin (and all Democrat too!) they will get their bailout pork…

Which goes to show…You CAN “Double Down on Stupid”.

BlaxPac on June 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM

68% reduction in voluntary union membership by state employees.

Every state in America should be pursuing PEU reform.

Jaibones on June 1, 2012 at 1:12 PM

No.. I know this one… the answer is wages go down.

“We find that the mean effect of working in a right-to-work state results in a 6% to 8% reduction in wages for workers in these states, with an average wage penalty of 6.5%. Controlling for regional costs of living reduces this amount to approximately 4%. We find that previous research reporting real wage gains associated with right-to-work states is almost purely the result of border cities that benefit from their proximity to a non-RTW state.”
http://www.epi.org/publication/datazone_rtw_index/

plewis on June 1, 2012 at 1:13 PM

I’ve been in WI for two years now… but I’m sure I’m still voting in Illinois, maybe at a couple of former addressses. (OK, not in my last address – they wouldn’t let me vote after I moved a BLOCK…and didn’t cross any districting lines!)

As for the district contract question – it was a joke how many districts signed contracts with their unions at the last minute. Our superintendent (a political junkie, like me) told the others that they were wrong – that signing before the bill was passed would bite them, and he was right.

Unfortunately, there are math-challenged teachers who admit that the lack of dues more than offsets the increase in premiums…but they’re still voting for Mr. Blank Slate.

Daisy_WI on June 1, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Too bad our own state legislature didn’t put the right-to-work amendment on the November ballot this year, or we might have frightened Obama off from his Twin Cities visit this morning.

MN? Ain’t gonna happen. Crazy-eyes Dayton would veto, or if he couldn’t, some lefty judge would declare it unconstitutional. Uphill battle in that state, at least for now.

iurockhead on June 1, 2012 at 1:57 PM

“Perhaps just as importantly, there is no advantage for Obama to risk his own popularity by making a high-profile visit to oppose policies that are finding increasing favor with voters.”

Or, alternately, Barrett doesn’t want Obama “The Popular” to hurt his own campaign. We’ve heard the narrative since before Obama was president that he was eminently popular. Well, it’s actually waned ever since, but the old narrative won’t die because it’s perpetuated by everyone who is discouraged or mad at his performance. They need something to hang their hat on for supporting Obama and so “popular” he must remain.

Guess what? He isn’t. Minimally, he isn’t nearly as popular as advertised for a whole host of reasons. The machine he heads and his surrogates operating it contradict the well-manufactured image. Well, his popularity is catching up to his performance now. Maybe Barrett et al. see it too and don’t want his help at crunch time anymore.

AnonymousDrivel on June 1, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Great news, and not unexpected. Yes forcing workers into a particular Union is immoral.

NORUK on June 1, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Public employee unions should be illegal everywhere in this country. They have no accountability and are a major reason we are broke and why public education is a failure.

woodNfish on June 1, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Larr on June 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Good job! Way to represent.

kim roy on June 1, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.

Desperate times, if this were to go national, head union thug Richard Trumka will have to step down to suits costing only $2000.

RJL on June 1, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Desperate times, if this were to go national, head union thug Richard Trumka will have to step down to suits costing only $2000.

RJL on June 1, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Size 58 Short isn’t available OTR.

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Mandatory union membership is nothing less than theft, pure and simple. I would never move to a state that didn’t have “Right to Work” in place. Go Walker! We are all Scott Walker!

RoadRunner on June 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Just to be clear, WI is not a “right to work” state, except for the non-police and fire PEUs. In fact, Walker has expressly denied plans to initiate such reforms outside the public sector.

Barnestormer on June 1, 2012 at 7:21 PM

In case you’re curious as to how much they pay per year.

princetrumpet on June 1, 2012 at 8:52 PM

The state refuses to collect dues and changes the law to make dues and union membership entirely voluntary. What do people do?

Well… Taiwanese animators create their own rendition of the Humpbot having “fun” with Richard Trumka…

APasserBy on June 2, 2012 at 2:12 AM