And it’s not a moment too soon. The Wisconsin State Journal tries to put a nice face on the situation – possibly out of pity – but the basic message of this article on WI public sector unions adjusting to the end of automatic dues collection is pretty clear: a significant proportion of public sector union members don’t consider membership worth the price. The only numbers of retained dues-payers that the article could get on the record were from two local ones, and those numbers are 50% to 70%; as Legal Insurrection helpfully points out, that works out to a dropout rate of between 30% and 50% percent. And who here thinks that, if the unions had a 90% dues retention rate, that they wouldn’t be bragging about that?
I’ll just end by noting this: I don’t really know how next week’s recall elections are going to go – at least, not with 100% certainty. But it’s just not feeling like DOOM is onrushing for the Wisconsin GOP…
Who I like, remember. But when she writes something like this:
We should be looking for ways to make teaching more open to part-timers and people in second, third, or eighth career cycles, and to make it easier for teachers to move around between schools and districts, and between teaching and other industries.
It’s just too damned easy to respond with this:
Well, that’ll happen over the union’s dead body.
…and the conversation ends there. Look, it’s not my fault that public sector unions exist; that they have metastasized throughout federal, state, and local governments; that they are now adjuncts of the Democratic party*; and that we can no longer afford to give them more and more free stuff every year while private sector wages and benefits stagnate, if not retreat. It’s also not my fault that the well of my sympathy is dry. And it is certainly not my fault that public sector unions have dug in their heels and refused to admit that you can’t be simultaneously a noble collection of independent secular saints and avowed political partisans.
But all of these things are true, and they are now affecting the political environment, and by ‘affecting’ I mean ‘destroying.’ We can talk about how to maintain the system after we’re done making the most critical repairs to it. And that involves breaking the Democratic party’s control over government infrastructures. We have to, if for no other reason that they completely suck at running them.
And it is cynical, in a fundamental way: the New York Times recognizes the need for getting public sector unions under control… in New York (where it will affect the New York Times). Wisconsin can apparently take a short walk off a long pier, for all that the Old Grey Lady cares. This is, by the way, a major reason why institutions of the Left are mistrusted by agents of the Right: the former goes out of the way to slander, libel, and dismiss the motivations and actions of the latter even when they agree with them.
And… that’s it, frankly. Personally, I don’t see why New York gets to have its governor smack back an out-of-control public sector union crisis while Wisconsin can’t, but then I’m not precisely the audience demographic that the New York Times is trying to reach. Which is a mistake on its part, but never mind that right now.
The WSJ notes that collective bargaining reform is not just happening in Wisconsin and Ohio:
Lawmakers in Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina have introduced bills to reduce union power or to make it more difficult for them to sign up workers, and there is talk of similar measures even in labor-friendly California and New York. Those efforts would build on bills already working their way through legislatures in Iowa, Kansas and the traditionally progressive state of Massachusetts.
The measures aren’t identical, but each attempts to rein in labor unions amid concerns about state budget deficits and a national debate over public-sector pay and pensions.
California’s probably a lost cause, but both New York and Massachusetts are definite possibles; apparently, the problem’s gotten too big for the local power structures to ignore. Real shame everybody’s concentrating on Wisconsin, huh? – At least, I’m betting that’s what the public sector union leadership is thinking right now.
But if they’re worried now, then… whoops! Almost said too much, there.
It would seem that the New York Times has decided that this is indeed a time of shared sacrifice; and the New York Times has further decided to volunteer public sector union employees in Wisconsin to be the ones… ‘sharing.’ This article is fairly astounding: not because it is inaccurate in making a sharp distinction between public and private sector union employees, mostly to the former’s disadvantage. And it’s not because the article makes it clear that suffering private sector union workers will not actually benefit from their public sector counterparts being able to keep their inflated privileges and perks. Everybody sensible knew that already.
No, the article is astounding because it’s on today’s front page of the NYT, apparently. This is pretty much an indication that public sector unions are now free to be thrown under the bus by the rest of the Democratic party. This is, of course, a regrettable necessity: but the needs of the larger party are at stake, and public sector unions are currently unpopular*. In fact – and this is kind of shocking – public sector unions are even kind of unpopular among a certain type of liberal/progressive; the ones who actually takes all that nonsense about class warfare and struggle seriously. Turns out some of those people were quietly unhappy that government employees got to get lumped in with real unions, and are now taking the time to actually articulate their objections on… on… on principle.
[UPDATE]: Ann Althouse has a few photos up that rather starkly symbolize just how committed public sector unions are to cleaning up the mess.
(Via @keder) The Wisconsin GOP has put together a quick video of union attacks on Governor Scott Walker, which include: signs calling him a Nazi (and a dictator generally); signs calling him a rapist; and signs calling for his death. What makes this a particularly hard-hitting video is that it’s interspersed with solemn quotes from Democrats who claim that their side never, ever, ever does such things: which is of course a lie, but a lot of these people haven’t internalized yet the notion that it’s harder to lie about this sort of thing these days.
Background, for those who need it: Scott Walker’s call for (limited) reforms of Wisconsin’s frankly out-of-control collective bargaining system for public sector union employees has caused a good deal of controversy, and by ‘controversy’ I mean ‘death threats.’ Excuse me: alleged death threats. Anyway, as I noted earlier Lakeshore Laments is a Wisconsin blog covering this: note in particular the way that the ‘spontaneous’ sickouts seem to be mostly targeting Republican state districts. It’s going to be a real interesting day in Wisconsin.