Last Friday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story about the decline in Wisconsin public employee unions’ lobbying expenditures is remarkably informative—assuming an already well-informed reader.
Study the first three paragraphs and you’ll realize you’re being told that until recently, public employee unions were absolutely the dominant force driving Wisconsin government.
But if their lobbying expenditures were significant, their real muscle was in campaign spending, through direct contributions and, more importantly, through attack advertising and manpower. Teacher union campaign spending historically dwarfed that of Wisconsin “big business” groups. It worked that way for decades.
Surprisingly, two dozen paragraphs go by before we get to the stuff about how tough Act 10 is on unions:
“The law requires unions to vote to re-certify annually using a difficult-to-meet standard; allows employees to opt out of paying any dues to the union if they choose not to belong to it; and bars employees from paying their union dues through payroll deductions collected by the state or local governments.”
Let’s analyze: The “difficult-to-meet standard” is a majority vote by the members.
The “opt out” provision is exactly as it sounds. Unlike pre-Act 10, if you don’t want to join the club, you don’t have to pay for a membership.
And it “bars employees from paying their union dues through payroll deductions?” Try this: It ends the practice of government collecting dues on behalf of unions, which spend the dues electing legislators who support higher taxes, hence higher salaries and more dues to be spent electing legislators who support higher taxes.
The real story here is that Wisconsin government no longer preoccupies itself with appeasing a handful of closely allied Liberal interest groups. That would be a good thing even if we didn’t get balanced budgets in the bargain.