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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wisconsin Unions in Decline

Whatever happens to Scott Walker, his reforms have had an effect.

Regardless of whether Governor Scott Walker survives Tuesday’s recall election, Wisconsin’s public-employee unions are likely to see their power continue to decline.

According to the Wall Street Journal, government unions in the Badger State have “experienced a dramatic drop in membership” since Walker and GOP lawmakers passed a package of reforms last year, including ones curbing collective-bargaining rights and ending mandatory union membership.

Labor unions are being crippled by the elimination of automatic dues withholding, a practice that had enriched the unions’ coffers. Thousands of state workers are simply refusing to contribute; others are leaving public-sector jobs.

“You see it especially among teachers, where there is a feeling that it doesn’t make sense to keep working under the new rules,” says Paul M. Secunda, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School. Indeed, according to the Journal, the American Federation of Teachers–Wisconsin, a labor organization representing 17,000 public-school teachers, has seen 6,000 members leave its ranks.

But the biggest drop has been in the Wisconsin chapter of AFSCME, the powerful union that represents state, county, and municipal workers. In the past year, more than 30,000 members have deserted the collective.

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