Skip to comments.As Unions Sound Alarm on SCOTUS Labor Case, Here's What Wisconsin's Experience Shows
Posted on 02/26/2018 12:31:02 AM PST by lowbuck
The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in the case of Mark Janus, a child support specialist from Illinois, who is suing AFSCME because he has no interest in financially supporting the unions political activities.
Since Janus is not a member of the union, he doesnt pay the same amount in dues as union members. But thanks to a Supreme Court decision in 1977, he is forced to pay the union agency fees, feeding the coffers of an organization he wants nothing to do with.
The high court will determine whether these agency fees are unconstitutional. Since freedom of association is a basic tenet of the American idea, it would be stunning if the Supreme Court rules to uphold the 1977 precedent. Considering a similar case deadlocked 4-4 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the presence of Justice Neil Gorsuch gives advocates of worker freedom great hope that agency fees will soon be a relic of the past.
To say this is a big case would be an understatement. More than 5 million government workers in 22 states are currently forced to pay these unholy tithes to big government unions just to keep their jobs. That enormous spigot of cash gives unions like AFSCME tremendous political power. But what would happen if public employees are actually given a choice?
According to the unions, if Janus wins, government functions will be completely crippled and public unions will be destroyed. The politicians who want to slash public services and crush unions are busting budgets with extravagant tax breaks, wrote AFSCME President Lee Saunders in a recent op-ed.
Observers of the Janus case can look to Wisconsin to find out what really happens when government employees have a choice. To put it mildly, Saunders is wrong.
In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature pushed through a bold reform called Act 10. Among other taxpayer-friendly reforms, the landmark law allowed public employees to opt out of their unions without risking their job, prohibited government from withholding union dues from paychecks, and required annual re-certification of all government unions.
Union bosses and agitators threw a massive temper tantrum, and Saunders told a union mob that he had a score to settle with Walker. Unions predicted the sky would fall as a result of Walkers reforms. Government operations would grind to a halt, schools would close their doors, and chaos would seize the state, they breathlessly exclaimed.
Seven years later, none of those predictions has come to pass. In fact, Wisconsin is stronger than ever.
Contrary to frantic claims that education in Wisconsin would be devastated, Wisconsin now boasts the second-highest high school graduation rate in the country, and the number of advanced placement exams taken by high school students has increased 47 percent since 2010. Students test scores have held steady, and all Wisconsin students are now taking the ACT.
Once-bloated government unions have shrunk now that people can elect not to join, arent forced to pay, and have an opportunity to vote on whether to have a union in the first place. The biggest example is the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). Before the passage of Act 10, the states largest teachers union had almost 100,000 members. As of 2015, the union stood at just 36,074 active members.
WEAC also suffered the largest revenue decline among all state teachers unions in 2014-15. During just that time, the unions revenue dropped more than $3 million.
Symbolizing its sharp decline as a political powerhouse propped up by coercive dues money, the union even put its lavish 51,000-square-foot headquarters up for sale in 2016.
The most recent data show overall union membership in Wisconsin has declined from 354,882 members in 2010 to 218,233 in 2016, a drop of 38.5 percent, according to a MacIver report. As it turns out, giving workers the freedom to leave a union results in steep declines in union membership as unwilling members vote with their feet.
While union membership is now confined to those workers who actually want to be in a union, the number of state and local government workers in Wisconsin has increased by 10,000 between 2013 and 2016, according to the Census Bureau. So claims by people like Saunders that letting workers opt out of a union will decimate public services simply arent true.
Not only were the sky-is-falling claims wrong, but Wisconsin is in impressive fiscal health. The states budget surplus now stands at $385 million, $137 million more than projected. Walker and the conservative Legislature have been able to cut taxes by $8 billion over the last seven years. This is all possible while maintaining good public services and giving public employees the freedom to not join a union.
The Wisconsin experience shows us that worker freedom means smaller, less powerful unions. It also shows us that government will continue to function and students will continue to learn and thrive.
No one wants to have their paychecks plundered to fund a union they want nothing to do with. Everyone should be given the basic freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution. Everyone should be free to choose the political activity their money goes to. If Mark Janus slays the AFSCME giant in the Supreme Court, the big government union bubble will deflate just as it did in Wisconsin.
Most important, millions of public workers will have their basic human rights restored.
It seems all the bets this time around is on the unions getting their "sweet deal" from the government taken away.
Wisconsin provides a good road map. After the union rot was cut out the state had enough tax money for all needs and to give some back to the taxpayers. What a concept.
I highly recommend "More Than They Bargained For" (Jason Stein and Patrick Marley) which gives a great account of Gov. Scott and his efforts to reform Wisconsin.
let’s hope pos roberts doesn’t say the union dues are a “tax.”
It was sweetly ironic here in WI that Walker, a non college grad true Christian man of the people, also beat those arrogant education thugs in a recall battle they were sure they would win because they got lots of out-of-state money involved.
Walker won three elections in two terms, helped cut my taxes, signed great new hunting and gun related legislation, caused Dems nationally to blow millions trying to recall him and even won the war against our own frozen swamp when crooked Dems launched crazy, secret, illegal investigations quite analogous to what Trump faces today.
The real lesson to learn is not just that we survived and thrived just fine without forced unionization... it is that Republicans can win and win big politically (we had been a blue state for quite a while before Walker’s rise to power) by having a freaking backbone for a change!
If we had a dang mountain in WI, Walker’s goofy looking mug would be carved into it by now.
On the other hand, we need Roberts, Kennedy (almost 82 years old), and Gorsuch to get to five votes.
Roberts and Kennedy are never 100% predictable on strong Conservative issues.
And I'm withholding judgment on Gorsuch until he has a longer Supreme Court record.
“On the other hand, we need Roberts, Kennedy (almost 82 years old), and Gorsuch to get to five votes.”
That is why we need Ruth Buzzy to croak! And having Breyer and Kennedy go would be a plus. We need to have a SCOTUS that has reliably conservative justices. Three more Gorsuch “clones” who are all under 50, would assure the continuation of our country as the founders set it up.
Amazing backbone of Gov. Walker. It is one of the reason's I freely donated to him at the start of the presidential contest. I guess he needs a little more seasoning before playing on the national stage.
But, I moved to Mr. Trump as the field narrowed and am glad we got another man who is willing to stand firm for what he considers right.
Liberals love to repeat that Walker is a ‘non-college grad’. If my memory is correct, it is true - but - he opted out of the last year of college because he was married and had a very good job offer, so he did not finish the last year.
I do not know just how many credits he is needing to get his degree.
College degrees do not make a person wise. In fact, may would argue that college degrees constipate the brain!
The vote on Friedrichs was 4-4 b/c Scalia died. Unless those justices completely change their minds, the good guys win on this one. I have read threads on FP that were positing Scalia was actually murdered. I certainly hope that was not the case but also hope the conservative justices have good security. In my opinion, unions will stop at nothing.
Minor correction: it was 2 years ago, when Obama was still in charge. Remember how he tried to fill the empty court seat in an election year and the Rs actually stood up to him? That seat is now Gorsuch’s.
Twitter is lit up with comments from the far left about this. To say they are unhinged is an understatement... One person said the average teacher’s salary went down by $10,000 in Wisconsin after the unions were weakened. Is that a true statement? Seems like a gross exaggeration to me but I don’t have intimate knowledge of the results.
Great summary. Having watched the rat/union complex destroy Detroit, I was stunned when Michigan went right-to-work in 2013.
The rats screwed up. They should have ‘offed Scalia when they owned congress.
I did not realize a vote was taken.
I thought the case was just set aside.
That certainly does add some question marks to Scalia’s sudden, unwitnessed death.
On the other hand, he was 80 years old, and he had two cardiac issues, high blood pressure and irregular heart beat.