We used to use the expression “voting with their feet” in reference to people packing up and leaving rather than put up with oppressive governments. Now it appears a sizable percentage of Wisconsin’s unionized government employees have found a new way to vote with their feet: Put them up on the coffee table and see what’s on TV when the union asks them to help keep it in business.
Two more government unions bit the dust last week in re-certification elections. The Associated Press story reeks with contempt for the Walker administration reforms that brought this about, but there’s enough fact to convey the idea.
A couple of things stand out. Most obvious is that the union de-certified by prison guards—drawing an appalling 15 percent support in the election—represents a second try, after the guards decided earlier this year to pull out of the Wisconsin State Employees Union. Maybe there’s a message here. Two strikes and you’re out?
Secondly, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Council 24 has been one of the more militant and politically energetic elements of Wisconsin government unionization over a stretch of time long predating the Walker reforms. Council 24 was in the forefront of protests against those reforms, yet its component groups—in this case, teachers working in state institutions—can’t be motivated to say “union, yes.”
There’s a lesson here for cautious Conservatives who may think it safer to go on defense than to pursue continuing reform: When a bare majority of unionized teachers declines to support their union, Act 10 has well and truly taken hold and the broader public is almost certainly ready for more.