Union Members Deserting Unions In Wisconsin

In 2010, Republican Scott Walker ran for governor of Wisconsin.  Like many other states, Wisconsin was facing deficit budgets and Walker campaigned that he would reduce spending and work towards a balanced budget.  He won the election and was sworn into office in January 2011.

Almost immediately, Walker began cutting or reducing spending as he promised.  One of the areas he saw as costing the state too much money was the state’s bargaining contracts with unions such as the teacher’s union and the unions for state government workers.  Walker led the effort with the Republican controlled Wisconsin legislature who passed the law to limit the bargaining powers of the state employee labor unions.

It didn’t take long for unions, state and other, to band together and launch a recall of Gov. Walker.  Unions from all over the nation pumped millions of dollars into the recall campaign to oust Walker.  Union members across the state took the issue quite serious; just ask Mary Taylor who worked for a private company that supplied custodial workers for the public schools.  She had a sign in her personal car supporting Gov. Walker.  Someone at a school she was cleaning saw the sign and a school official called the company she worked for to complain.  Her employer ordered her to remove the sign and Taylor said it was her personal car and that she had a constitutional right to display the sign.  Her employer fired her.  This was only one of many similar instances that occurred all over the state of Wisconsin.

The recall election was held in June 2012 and Walker became the first governor in American history to survive a recall election.  In the year since the recall, tens of thousands of government workers including teachers have been leaving the unions.  In the latest move, one of the state’s largest unions has been decertified and members are leaving likes rats abandoning a sinking ship.  The Kenosha Education Association, a large teacher’s union missed the deadline to file their annual reapplication process.  Consequently, they have been decertified by the state, meaning that they have lost all bargaining powers for base wages.  The Kenosha Education Association plans to re-file for certification, but since they failed to meet the deadline, it will cost them more money to file.

Also hurting unions in the state was a provision in Act 10 that stipulates that in order for any union to be recognized by the state, they have to have a minimum of 51% membership of all potential members.  With so many teachers and state workers leaving the unions, 32 unions have lost their state certification.  They represented 207 school districts, 39 cities and six of them dealt directly with the state government.

Over the years, I‘ve seen too many people lose their homes, families and self-respect because of union strikes that lasted for months.  I was a union member at one time and felt I was a slave to union dictates more so than to my employer.  I paid my monthly union dues only to have the union tell me if I was allowed to work or had to go on strike.  Fortunately, Arizona is a right to work state and I left the union.  In doing so, I knew that if the union went on strike, which they came real close to doing, that I would still be able to work and support my family.

Personally, I would like to see all of the unions decertified and have all of their members face the same struggles in the work place as the rest of us do.