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New WI Union Numbers Reveal Brutal Implications of Walker’s Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill

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Two years after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union Act 10 became law, the numbers show that this signature piece of legislative overreach has had its intended effect: draining unions of their members and therefore their resources.  

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel shows that tens of thousands of workers have left their unions and some unions have been rendered nearly functionless.  Such is the case with AFSCME District 48 which is now in the hole financially:

In 2010 — the year that Walker was elected governor — theAmerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 48 was thriving, having enrolled more than 9,000 workers and reporting income exceeding $7 million.

By the end of 2012, District Council 48 was down to just under 3,500 dues-paying members — a loss of nearly two-thirds of its represented workers.

The local also reported its net worth had plummeted, so it is now more than $650,000 in the red. This was the case even after AFSCME’s international headquarters pumped $250,000 into the Milwaukee’s union’s coffers last year.

The state is not without unions which have been able to weather the political storm, but that does little to assuage the pain for less lucky groups.  The five unions hit hardest (in terms of members lost) are:

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) -13,019

Wisconsin State Employees Union (WSEU) - 11,000

Building and Construction Trades - 10,891 members

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) - 9,118

Pipe Trades (also part of the above Building and Construction Trades figure) - 6,482

Graphic Communications (Teamsters) - 4,940

The Journal-Sentinel‘s complete database can be found here.

These membership losses — which will be very difficult to reverse — have all come despite the constitutionality of Act 10 remaining in relative legal limbo.

Among the unions nearing collapse is the Wisconsin State Employees Union.  The union has lost over half its members, down to between 9,000 and 10,000 from 22,000. And last week, prison guards narrowly voted 1,548-1,108 to leave WSEU.  Their 5,900 state security and public safety workers will now be represented by the Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement.  

FDL Reporter suggests that more troubles lie ahead for these guards:

The victory for the guards union may be fleeting, because it was won with a simple majority of votes cast under Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission rules.

But the new union will need to recertify in a few months under a provision of Act 10 that requires annual approval by 51 percent of all bargaining unit members.

That means recertification will require twice as many votes for the new union — more than 3,015 assuming the unit continues to include 5,913 members. Fewer than 2,900 mailed in ballots by Thursday’s deadline.

In response, WSEU Director Marty Biel lamented,

“We are disappointed that many security and public safety workers were so disillusioned that they chose to essentially go it alone instead of standing with their brothers and sisters in other professions.”

Act 10 has effectively crippled the power of Gov. Walker’s political enemies while providing nothing positive in exchange. As Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, notes:

“Act 10 didn’t create a single job, improve education for one student or make Wisconsin a better place to live.”

In fact, one of the only winners in the Act 10 fiasco is the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. They have netted nearly $1 million fighting legal challenges to the legislation:

Michael Best was originally hired by Walker on Feb. 7, 2011, four days before he announced plans to impose sweeping changes to the collective bargaining rights of public employees. The original contract was for $50,000, and set a rate of reimbursement of up to $300 per hour.

The contract has since been amended several times to increase its duration and maximum payment amount. Prior to the recent amendment, the last revision was in March 2012, when the amount was raised to $850,000. The per hour fee has not changed.

Not for him it hasn’t…


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