|Big Changes in Wisconsin|
|posted by: Alix | July 11, 2011, 06:55 PM|
As of June 29, forced unionism ended in Wisconsin, ending a bitter and controversial debate over Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Among the many union-crippling provisions of the law, unions in the state are no longer allowed to collect mandatory dues from government employees. Instead, unions must now count on members to continue supporting the unions by authorizing voluntary bank drafts to cover dues. While the union comes to grips with how to handle an inevitable mass exodus from exorbitant fees and partisan politics, teachers are finally speaking out about what the end of compulsory unionism really means to them and their paychecks.
Susan Flood, an elementary school teacher in Wisconsin, told the Lacrosse Tribune that she would gladly pay into her health care costs if it meant being able to resign union membership, indicating that without forced unionism, her take home pay will increase over $800. Ms. Flood has been against the status quo mentality of the unions for her entire career but with forced unionism in play was required to pay dues as a condition of employment. "They say the union is there to stand up for you," Ms. Flood said. "Well, no one has ever had to stand up for me. I think I stand up for myself by doing my job."
Another Wisconsin teacher, Kristi Lacroix, who had been critical of the union for years, recently filed a brief in federal court supporting the Wisconsin labor law. While she remains friendly with her opposition, many insiders have blamed union intimidation on the lack of testimony from teachers during the heated debate of the past few months.
Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman said over the course of the debate he has spoken with teachers who have thanked him for supporting the law, but have not gone public because they fear disapproval or harassment from colleagues who fought alongside union leadership to defeat the bill for months.
Governor Scott Walker has echoed the sentiment saying the plan has had the support of many union members from the start. "That school teacher now will no longer have to pay a thousand dollars taken out of their paycheck," Governor Walker indicated in March. "That's money that they can use to pay for health care and other things like that."
Only time will tell how much the unions stand to lose from the new provisions. Now that the union will be held accountable to their membership, individual teachers will no doubt evaluate whether spending $800 a year is worth it, or perhaps lead to the consideration of non-union alternatives like AAE. While the union remains optimistic, clearly WEAC is facing an uphill battle recalling senators and paying for a costly legal battle without $25 million worth of forced dues rolling in.
Do you think the end of forced dues will hurt union membership numbers?