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The Real Story From Wisconsin

This article first appeared on Feb 23, 2011.

It is no secret what is going on in Wisconsin (and now Indiana, Ohio, and a growing list of states). Organized labor and the Democrats who receive hundreds of millions of dollars in each election cycle are in abject panic. Membership among employees in the private sector has been dwindling for over 25 years. The only arena that unions have held against the prevailing tide is in the public sector (federal and state employee unions).

Problematic to these groups is the current environment of budget deficits. States, fiscally underwater, are looking to control budgets and employee costs (both salaries and benefits) are a politically-expedient target. It is especially acute when private sector employees (who are the taxpayers) are experiencing financial challenges while watching the neighbor public sector employees largely insulated.

In the case of Wisconsin, the unions are fighting not to protect their members salaries or benefits (they have already surrendered on those points), they are at arms over efforts by the Wisconsin Governor and State Legislature to pass “right-to-work” legislation. Instead of mandating union membership (whether an employee wishes to be a member or not) and utilizing the state government as a collection arm on behalf of the unions (collecting dues directly from paychecks), Wisconsin leaders are seeking to pass legislation supporting employee choice and getting their government out of the business of collecting on behalf of an outside entity.

Interestingly, the AWOL Democrats who have fled out-of-state in an attempt to prevent assembly of a quorum and thwart the legislature from doing carrying out its business are doing so to protect their campaign cash cows.

The pattern becomes:

  1. Democrats expand the size and scope of Government.
  2. Government hires more staff who, due to closed-shop union-supporting laws in many of these states, are required to join the Union having their dues skimmed before they even receive their paychecks.
  3. Organized Labor donates hundreds of millions in campaign cash and provides tens of thousands of campaign volunteers to elect Democrats.
  4. Rinse and Repeat!

Current events should not surprise. Organized Labor and the Democrats, who benefit from their volunteer and campaign support, see their power base already dwindling and contracting even more in today’s political environment.

Two years ago, Democrats awash with excitement of the electoral wins and enjoying the intoxication of their political power were openly talking of legislation like “card-check” that would expand their power base of Organized Labor. They passed a “Stimulus Package” of bailouts for some states that largely ended up being directed to paying pensions to unionized State Employees.

Today, they are hiding in hotel rooms outside their home states to prevent passage of legislative initiatives that would undercut their last strongholds among those Government Employees Unions.