Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 22, 2019
MADISON — Given the choice to leave their unions, Wisconsin’s public sector employees escaped in droves.
A new study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) shows Act 10, former Gov. Scott Walker’s signature collective-bargaining reform law, loosened the stranglehold Big Labor once had on taxpayer-funded employees.
“Act 10 shook the status quo for public employee unions in Wisconsin. And when workers get a say in the future of their union, the number of public employee unions in Wisconsin continues to shrink,” said Will Flanders, research director for the Milwaukee-based free market think tank. The report is titled, Democracy in the Workplace: Examining Union Recertification in Wisconsin Under Act 10.
The 2011 law requires most Wisconsin employees to contribute to a portion of their taxpayer-funded health insurance and pension plans, something many didn’t have to consider before Republican Walker took office.
Act 10 also required public unions to hold annual recertification votes.
After generations of forced union dues and liberal politicking, many labor organizations lost the revenue streams and the members they took for granted.
WILL’s report shows union membership in Wisconsin has declined by 100,000 public employees since 2013, and the number of unions has dropped by a third.
Not surprisingly, unions in conservative areas were more likely to lose recertification votes.
The study also found that there is no relationship between union decertification and student outcomes.
Act 10, with its emphasis on merit and not seniority, created a new teacher marketplace without negative effects on class size and teacher gross pay, the study found.
There is good news for Big Labor, particularly those unions that have adapted to better meet the needs of their customers. WILL’s analysis found the vote share to maintain a union has increased, “signaling resilience and support among members of current unions.”
Union decertification peaked in the first couple of years after the implementation of Act 10, and has since plateaued.
“The result of Act 10 has not been a wholesale destruction of labor unions, as many opponents of the law claimed it would be …, but rather a “trimming of the fat’, leaving it to workers and their individual unions to decide their value and their future.
Read the full report here.