I am going to try to avoid too much hyperbole and sarcasm for this one; this is one time where the situation requires neither. When Scott Walker and other Republicans instituted labor union reforms in 2009, one of the basic planks of such reforms – the one that was quietly and viciously fought, tooth and nail, by the unions – was removal of mandatory dues collection for public sector union employees. In fact, from the union leaderships’ point of view this was THE reform that needed to be killed; if the Republicans had compromised on it then there probably wouldn’t have been a Wisconsin recall movement at all. But Walker and the Republicans didn’t compromise… and what was the result?
Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers-fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.
This should shock nobody, but it will undoubtedly surprise people anyway. Particularly, say, The American Prospect also made this stunning tacit admission of epistemic closure: “Public Policy Polling numbers showed that 39 percent of union households still plan to vote for Scott Walker. That’s a stunning number given Walker’s anti-union stance (most recently highlighted in his ambiguous support for “right-to-work” laws).” I would suggest that it is not a stunning number; merely one that reflects the reality that mandatory participation in a labor union does not change your politics or your opinions. It merely stifles contrary opinion.
Well – more accurately, it masks it. To give a deliberately obnoxious, yet essentially accurate, example (which violates my no-hyperbole promise: sorry about that): if you went by official records and elections then the inhabitants of the old East German regime just loved them some Marxist puppet-state style government. And this remained self-evidently true right up to the second when the East Germans realized that their ‘government’ wasn’t going to shoot them if they went over the Berlin Wall. Whereupon the East Germans proceeded to do just that, and come back with jackhammers and demolition equipment to make it easier for everybody else to flee. Because you can’t make people stop thinking stuff just by banning their ability to effectively say it.
So it’s not so bad for AFSCME, really. At least they don’t have to watch their entire political and economic philosophy/worldview/religion get turned into a Pepsi commercial*.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: AFSCME no longer speaks for Wisconsin public employees, by the way. It only speaks for about half of them. They need to recalibrate their rhetoric accordingly.
*…CAPITALISM IS AWESOME.
Sorry, just had to get that out of my system.