|Maybe not as united as you think|
Well maybe not how the public unions would like a plan to come together. The first rule in medicine is to do no harm. The level of self-inflicted wounds the PEU in Wisconsin have inflected upon themselves is staggering to say the least. So bad, in fact, that it may have national implications. Consider this from the Wall Street Journal's Douglas Belkin and Kris Maher (emphasis mine):
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.
Now with Mr. Walker facing a recall vote Tuesday, voters will decide whether his policies in the centrist state should continue—or whether they have gone too far.
The election could mark a pivot point for organized labor.
At least now we know why the unions and the democrats (both at the state and national levels) hit the panic button when ACT 10 was under consideration.
Here's how it's supposed to work - Taxpayers fund the public sector including the public union member's salaries through tax revenues. The unions then take about $2,400 (mandatory) a year per union member off the top to fund their political machine. This machine includes funding campaigns that are sympathetic to their cause (i.e. democratic candidates that will make sure that the political machine continues to roll on as it has for over 40 years in Wisconsin). Everybody wins, except of course the taxpayer who is funding this boondoggle.
However, what happens when the union dues are no longer compulsory? Do the union members continue to voluntarily fund this legalized extortion? Do they see the value in continuing to pay their dues? Well given the choice apparently not:
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.
With this kind of fall off in the first few months of the law you gotta ask - what the hell were the rank and file members getting for their dues? A nice glossy monthly newsletter? A lapel pin? Whatever it was it clearly wasn't enough to keep more than half of the members in the union.
At this point one of two things will have to happen if the PEU is to still enjoy the level of influence that they've had in the past. Either they raise the union dues (and thereby reducing membership even more - that darn price elasticity model strikes again!) or they go the way of the condor. Either way their days are numbered.
So if Gov. Walker wins the recall election - and all indications are that he will - it would appear that not only have the taxpayers in Wisconsin had enough but given the numbers above so have the rank and file union members.
Big picture - what are the implications nationally? Many states are in the same spot Gov. Walker was in when he took office. Can the governors of these states use Walker's success as a blueprint to reign in their own public unions? My hope is that they will have the backbone to stand up to these thugs not only for their state budgets but for the taxpayers they were elected to protect from this nonsense.