Boots & Sabers

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0642, 22 Feb 15

WEAC Membership Down

A lot.

Either way, membership is down more than 50 percent from the union’s 98,000-member levels before Gov. Scott Walker signed his signature legislation in 2011 that significantly diminished collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

This is worth remembering as we debate Right to Work in Wisconsin. Just think of those numbers… for decades, 50% of WEAC’s membership was involuntary. Those people were compelled by law to send a portion of their hard-earned paycheck to WEAC. What did WEAC do with their money?

A decade ago, WEAC spent $1.5 million on lobbying during the 2005-2006 legislative session, state records show. The next session: $1.1 million. During the two sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10, WEAC spent $2.5 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

Right to Work is about choice. It is about the choice of a worker to join a union or not. In this case we find out that at least 50% of a union’s membership were people who did not want to be in it. It is a crime that we used the coercive force of government to make those people join and pay for a private organization for all of those years. Let’s hope that this week is a good week for the expansion of freedom in Wisconsin.


0642, 22 February 2015


  1. Dave

    It may very well be a good week for the shifting of power more solidly into the hands of management. Without concerted job action as an alternative for workers they have little opportunity or chance to effect changes in the workplace for their own benefit.

    And you are critical of unions spending money on lobbying to positively impact the workers they represent and yet it is a drop in the bucket to what moneyed interests spend to purchase their politicians since Citizens United. Yes it should be a grand week for “freedom” in Wisconsin when we can finally put to rest the ideas of Marxist liberals like this guy:

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” -Abraham Lincoln

  2. William

    Dave: if labor unions are so great why do people need to be forced to join?

    Would Abraham Lincoln had guns pointed at people to take their money and given to labor unions? That looks like organized crime.

  3. Nashotah Conservative

    I’m glad we’re moving in this direction, but I’m also a little concerned that many private businesses seem to be opposing this move. Can anyone clarify which private business interests hired John Gard and Bob Welch?

    Overall, I don’t believe that people should be “forced” to join a union to get a job. That said, I also don’t like government intrusion into the private sector. Maybe a compromise would be if a business owner decides that they (as the owner) want to deal exclusively with a union, that they could require all employees they hire to be members?

    That said, I think some businesses might deal with unions already that aren’t specific to their company (maybe in the trades)

    Anything that improves the business climate in our state is good for all. More jobs and more wages earned = more taxes for bridges, health care, and education all while dropping the number of people that need assistance because they can’t find a job

  4. Nashotah Conservative

    OOPS- looks like I replied to the wrong thread. Meant to post this in the right to work thread.

    My comment on WEAC would be: Teachers unions were neccesary in the 1970s when teachers were making poverty wages ($7,000 per year).

    In the 40 years since, Teachers compensation is much more robust and largely set by the market (average statewide I think is around $50-55k) with employers now able to decide if someone’s performance and skill set warrant more.

    WEAC dug their own grave when they became so militant in their demands. The nail in the coffen was their decision to largely eliminate the QEO in 2009-2010 which was tone deaf in the heart of the worst recession in generations.

    As long as the legislature/Governor don’t push too far to the right, the balance between taxpayers/management and the unions has been equalized. If management and the legislature go too far however, we could create motivation for thousands of teachers to rejoin unions that they currently see little value in joining.

  5. Kevin Scheunemann


    So what you are saying is: the 50% who choose not to join the union can’t do the job just “for the children”?

  6. Northern Pike

    To William: If labor unions are so bad, why are police officers forced to join against their will?

    Any why would police unions politically incinerate Gov. Walker if Act 10 were changed so that police officers were no longer forced to join against their will?

  7. Dave

    Teachers, as well as other workers in the private sector, work to make a living that can support their families. Act 10 was the “Right to work” law for public employees and now we are moving on to private sector. The plain fact is this will result in lower wages overall for workers in the private sector just as Act 10 has retarded wage growth for teachers. In states where Right to Work has been passed, without the upward pressure of union wages, all wages have dropped. Right to work is the right to work for less for all workers in the state to the benefit of business owners. I imagine some businesses are opposing this move because they have been able to rely on the quality of the worker coming form a union hall.

    As to Nashotah who said, “My comment on WEAC would be: Teachers unions were neccesary in the 1970s when teachers were making poverty wages ($7,000 per year).”

    I know for a fact that the starting wage for a teacher in 1975 was about $7,500. When adjusted for inflation that amount would be $33,000 in 2014; very close to teacher starting wages today…and that was with the help of a strong labor union. I imagine teachers will fare much better in the next 40 years without the union backing!?!

  8. Mark from Germantown

    Police officers and firemen risk their lives every time they are called to duty. They deserve all their pay and benefits. When Act 10 was being enacted, many police and firemen demonstrated in solidarity with public workers. It will be interesting to see how many of them quit the union when RTW becomes law…

  9. Kevin Scheunemann


    So its not about the children then.

  10. Northern Pike

    To Mark from Germantown:

    Fair point.

    But then conservatives must acknowledge that labor unions are very good for their members and deliver benefits that far exceed what is paid either voluntarily or involuntarily in union dues.

    Conservatives are being dishonest when they try to convince union members that Act 10 and right to work are passed in their interests. They are not. They passed in the interests of employers and taxpayers.

    Or to put it another way: Labor unions are very good for workers — but they ain’t for you, Jack.

  11. Dave

    Yes Kevin it is about the children. Hiring high quality teachers to provide the best possible education for the children. That will be more and more difficult as fewer people go into education as a career. When you look at starting wages adjusted for inflation since 1975 being essentially stagnant with 40 years of concerted union effort, it does not bode well for the future of anyone looking at teaching as a career. Much as you appear to believe that teaching your children should be reward enough for anyone, teachers show no less dedication to the profession by expecting to be able to live a comfortable modest middle class lifestyle. It is about their own children as well, after all.

  12. Ginny Maziarka

    Right to work is greatly about freedom of conscience in the workplace.
    In 2011, WEAC lobbied against AB337, the sex ed bill:
    In 2006, GM-UAW stood against the Marriage Amendment:
    NEA Teachers Union is Pro-Abortion:
    Wis. AFL-CIO Holds Rally With Planned Parenthood
    AFL-CIO submits brief in support of abortion
    Link Between Labor Unions and Pro-Abortion Candidates
    If these are not the values of those being forced to pay union dues which, in turn, support abortion, same-sex “marriage”, comprehensive sex-ed and liberal candidates, then workers ought not to be forced to place their hard-earned money in the pockets of those lobbying AGAINST their core values.
    Plain and simple.

  13. Kevin Scheunemann


    Are you saying in a government run school monopoly that more money=more quality?

    In my experience, especially in the tenured professor system at UW, it means the exact opposite of that. Usually more money in the government school monopoly EQUALS more radical to undermine basic social values and beliefs.

    In a full blown, competitive, school choice environment, I could agree that money could equal more quality because parents would be making the choice where the education money goes, not WEAC controlled school bureaucrats.

    Public schools are caught in a 19th century model of education, much like the previously government sanctioned telephone monopolies. That made the long distance telephone market expensive, slow to change, and inhibited innovation. We need a model, where in the internet age, the rock star teachers are teaching thousands, maybe millions of students at once. Like movie stars, that is how more money to teachers should happen, wider distribution of great educational product.

    We can’t have that as long as we cling to an outdated 19th century model of schooling.

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