You’ll have a better idea by this time tomorrow what type of country your grandchildren will inherit. Will it be one where they will be overrun by public-sector pension obligations, or will it be one where they as taxpayers control their state’s purse strings? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has made the necessary reforms by putting control of the public sector back where it belongs: with the taxpayers. Public-sector union leaders are fuming and are in the fight of their life. If Walker wins the recall vote today, expect this to be the beginning of reform around the country. For union leaders, it may be too late if union members are given a choice, as they are in Wisconsin, to pay union dues or not to pay. They’re not paying.
Armed with the choice to pay or not to pay union dues, thanks to Gov. Walker, they have decided not to. Union membership is sinking like a rock. According to The Wall Street Journal, since Walker’s reforms, membership has cratered by more than half for the second-biggest union AFSCME. Its membership has dropped from 62,818 in March 2011 to 28,745 in February. Plus, not only are members not paying dues, unions are not recertifying because it’s too hard.
To recertify, thanks to Gov. Walker’s reforms, it takes 51% of the votes of all organization members, whereas in the past it only took 51% of those voting. Once a union is decertified, it is no longer recognized by the state in official negotiations. Therefore—and this is why it’s so important to taxpayers—the state no longer has to stick within the bargaining guidelines union leadership had written into law.
Walker’s reforms do two things: one, give union members a choice not to have their dues automatically deducted, and two, require a true majority to recertify a union rather than only 51% of those who vote. It’s about money and control. When given a choice to pay dues, members don’t pay and they don’t vote to recertify. As the Journal reports, Tina Pocernich, a researcher at Wisconsin, paid dues for 15 years but not anymore. “It was a hard decision for me to make. But there’s nothing the union can do anymore.”
This is the type of public-sector union reform that states need. Forget about special tax breaks to lure companies to your state, like the ones Rhode Island has tried and failed at. Put control of the state coffers back into the hands of taxpayers, and step back and wait. The jobs will come. This is the final stand. Public-sector union leaders and their 37% membership rate, versus only 6.9% in the private sector, have had it too easy for too long. They’ve bankrupted cities and towns across the country with sweetheart pension deals and contracts impossible to break. It’s time union leaders are shown the door so you can make sure your grandchildren don’t have to have this fight when you’re no longer around to help them.
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