The Rise and Fall of Public-sector Unions?
June 1, 2012
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.
The numbers are dramatic:
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.
. . .
According to the Journal, when Walker first proposed his fiscal reforms in early 2011, AFSCME’s Wisconsin membership stood at a healthy 62,818. By February 2012, the labor behemoth had shrunk to 28,745. . . .
State senator Alberta Darling, a top Walker ally and the co-chair of the upper chamber’s joint finance committee, says the bosses of the public-sector unions aren’t battling Walker as much as they are their own members, who have been unhappy with paying hefty dues for decades. “People who refused to pay used to be blackballed,” she says. “Now I’m hearing from many teachers that they feel free to work with their school boards without going through the unions first. They can manage their own issues without outside involvement.”
To some extent, this may just be the way history is moving. According to the New York Times, 35% of American workers (all workers combined, not just government workers) were in unions in the 1950s, 20% in 1983, and only 12.3% in 2009.
For better and for worse, I suppose, the world never stands still; things are changing all the time. This particular current seems to be for the better. Maybe things would have moved in this direction in our time with or without Scott Walker, but he’s still a hero in my book.