As I understand it, the most controversial aspect of the WI legislation that Walker pushed through was the ban on automatic union dues and PAC contributions being deducted from teacher’s salaries. This doesn’t eliminate the ability of teachers to continue paying dues and making voluntary donations to their union PAC, it just eliminates the ability of the union to require it be done through payroll deductions.
So if a teacher wants to be in the union and make contributions they can still be. But if a teacher doesn’t, they don’t have to.
By making the union voluntary it weakens it. Fewer people will enroll, so fewer people will see the value in enrolling. It’s a deflationary cycle that gelds the union.
Since the union is weaker, it can’t advocate for the teachers. If the save some money in dues in the very short run, they will lose much more in the long run. Also, union wages elevate all wages, because private sector employers have to provide a wage that competes with the union one.
Remember, Republicans don’t want living wages for teachers. They (at least some of them) want to destroy public education. They will cut, and cut, and cut until public education collapses.
Public school teachers never have the option to not belong to a union. School boards are in a race to the bottom to treat teachers worse than dirt. This move is roughly equivalent to give teachers the opportunity to work without pay: Yes, in some abstract sense giving them that option is an increase in freedom, but not in any real practical sense.
So an individual that has the intellectual capacity to obtain a college degree, select an employer, and also educate our children, doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to decide for themselves whether or not there is value in union membership? So it shouldn’t be voluntary?
Former teachers union local president here. Union membership is not mandatory in Pennsylvania schools. We’ve had people decline to join on more than one occasion. Typically, there are only two reasons:
Don’t want to pay the dues. This one is particularly common in teachers who got hired using grant money and who don’t know from one year to the next whether their job will continue to exist.
Political beliefs that include being anti-union.
More than one of these non-union co-workers approached me for official support during my term when they believed they were being poorly treated by administration. They expressed anger and disbelief when I explained that, since they were not members of the bargaining unit, I could not and would not help them.
Freedom to not be part of the union also means the freedom to go it alone when someone with an office decides to target you. Not coincidentally (IMO), none of those folks are still working here. That means something in an area like this where teaching is one of the better jobs.
I spent several years working in Texas early in my career. As many of you know, it is against the law for teachers to unionize there, or at least it was in the late 1980’s. When you are teacher there, every day is “Whimsical Tuesday.”
If it’s involuntary, all teachers get the benefit, and all teachers pay the price. Even private sector teachers will have their wages and benefits pulled up (since they have to compete with the union ones).
If it’s voluntary, then some teachers will free-ride. Not join the union, but still reap the benefits. This weakens the union. Weakening the union makes it less attractive.
And so forth.
I forget which one, but one of the talking heads talked about how one of the WI unions has less than 50% of the membership it had last year. In one year.
So an employer shouldn’t be able to make an exclusive contract with a union in your view? Or only the state?
Any other freedoms and capacities you want to remove in the name of individual freedom?
Really, it’s like saying municipalities shouldn’t be free to put up streetlights because you should be individually free to go through an intersection when you see fit. Makes sense to an adolescent, maybe. But systems need the freedom to be* functional.*
So? No one denies voluntary union membership makes it weaker. If I ran a one party state in which by law everyone had to be a member of my political party, and then we liberalized and allowed people to choose not to be a member of my party and in fact to start their own parties, my party enrollments would decline and my party would weaken.
No one is making the point that if people given the choice to leave a union, make that choice, that it wouldn’t weaken the union.
What you’re not doing is explaining why that is an individual’s problem. Why should I as an individual have to be in a union, just because not being in a union would weaken it? Well, I say you should have to vote Republican, because not voting Republican weakens the political candidates I support.
It’s actually illegal to have a closed shop. See: Taft-Hartley Act.
It’s not illegal to have an agency shop, which is basically a shop in which you don’t have to be part of a union to join but you have to pay some membership dues to the union even if you don’t wish to be in it. At least under Taft-Hartley.
State Right-to-Work laws can prohibit agency shops as well.
You’ve still not explained why we should care that voluntary union membership weakens the union. Even if it hurts teachers (and I’d like you to provide evidence for this, you’re in GD now), you’ve provided no compelling reason why teachers should not be allowed to make their own decisions about how their money gets spent and what their money is used to support.
First of all, I join with Martin Hyde in requesting a cite for the claim that Republicans want public education to collapse. If that’s what they want, then why did they increase the budget for the Department of Education so much during the years when they controlled Washington?
Second, the notion that public unions who get higher wages for their members will help the wages of everyone seems to me obviously false. Wages and benefits for government employees have been moving up quite a bit in recent years, which is part of the reason why government budgets at all levels have skyrocketed. (Cite, cite, cite, cite) Yet Democrats keeps telling me that things have gotten worse for “the 99%” during the same period. What gives?