Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Unions

Wisconsin Sees Rapid Decline In Union Membership

When given a choice, the majority of people chose to not join a union.

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show nearly all states have seen a decline in the concentration of their workforce that is unionized over the last 20 years, but none more so than Wisconsin.


In 2000, 17.8% of all employed Wisconsinites were members of a union – the 10th-highest concentration in the country. By 2021, that number fell to just 7.9%, putting Wisconsin at 28th among states and below the national average of 10.3%. The 9.9 percentage point drop since 2000 for Wisconsin was the largest nationwide by nearly three percentage points, and substantially more than the national drop of 3.1 percentage points (see Figure 1).


The 55.6% decline in the rate of union membership in Wisconsin over the same time period ranked second-highest in the country, behind only South Carolina

Union Membership Stagnant in Wisconsin

It appears that we have reached an equilibrium.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 219,000 workers in the state were union members last year, up from 218,000 in 2018. The percentage of workers in unions was unchanged at 8.1%.

The number of workers represented by a union increased from 233,000 in 2018 to 245,000 last year. The percentage of workers represented by unions went from 8.6% to 9.1%. The increases in union representation in 2019 brought the state back to the level it was at in 2016 and 2017.

Wisconsin’s union membership and representation has been relatively steady in recent years after a tumultuous early portion of the decade that saw the passage of Act 10 and right-to-work legislation.

Thanks to Right to Work and Act 10, we know that people who want to be in a union are in a union. Those who don’t want to be in a union don’t have to be. I expect that that makes or healthy, vibrant unions full of people who want it.

Government Workers Refuse to Work. Kids Harmed.

It’s one thing for employees at a private company to strike. Their customers can go elsewhere and the employees are really only harming the company and themselves. But these kids are required to attend government schools and many of them can’t afford private schooling. They don’t have the choice to just go to another school. What these teachers are doing to these kids should be a crime. We have 3% unemployment in this country. If the teachers aren’t satisfied, they can get another job. Instead, they choose to hold kids hostage in their quest to wrangle more money out of the taxpayers.

Thousands of high school athletes, shut out of class for more than a week, are arguing, rallying and even filing lawsuits for the chance to compete in post-season play. Hanging in the balance, they say, are not just the pursuits of state-championship glory and lifelong memories, but scholarships that for some represent a lone opportunity to attend college and, in some cases, escape drugs and violence in city neighborhoods.

“We’ve been working for this goal of making this stage, running in the postseason, since June,” said Ian Bacon, a senior cross-country runner at Jones College Prep and a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Illinois High School Association. “This fight … it’s not just for us. It’s for all the future student-athletes that may find themselves in this situation.”

About 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out Oct. 17 . They continue to negotiate with administrators for the nation’s third-largest school system, but disagreement remains over issues such as class sizes and staffing. The work stoppage also idled action on the gridiron, tennis court, soccer field and cross-country course.

UAW Strikes Against GM

It could be because they have a legitimate dispute with GM about labor contracts. It could also be an orchestrated distraction to distract their members and the public from their own corruption. And now if anyone pokes deeper into the corruption, the UAW can accuse them of strike busting. Slimy people.

DETROIT – About 48,000 members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike early Monday as contract talks with General Motors broke down.

Union members walked out of factories and set up picket lines at 33 plants across the nation as well as 22 parts warehouses.

The strike, depending on its length, could easily cost GM hundreds of millions of dollars. The last time the union declared a strike at GM was in 2007. The two-day work stoppage was estimated to have cost the Detroit automaker more than $300 million a day.

The called strike comes despite GM saying it presented a “strong offer” to the union that included the addition or retention of thousands of jobs and more than $7 billion in new investments over the next four years.


The circumstances add to the tension of already unprecedented negotiations, following UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, a member of the union’s International Executive Board, being arrested and charged by federal officials Thursday with embezzlement of union funds, among other charges.

The affidavit detailing the charges also reportedly implicated UAW President Gary Jones and former UAW President Dennis Williams, whose homes were raided along with Pearson’s by FBI, IRS and Department of Labor agents two weeks ago. Pearson, who joined the UAW in 1981, succeeded Jones as director of UAW Region 5.


“This union exists to support our local unions and this strike is about our local union members,” he said. “We will not be deviated from that because that is what is in their interest, that is what they want and that is what we will do.”


Unionizing Efforts


Delta Airlines is facing significant criticism after posters discouraging its staff from joining a union were widely shared online.

“Union dues cost around $700 [£540] a year,” one of the posters states.

“A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union,” it continued.

The posters point to a website featuring Delta branding which encourages workers not to unionise.

Without confirming it produced the posters, a spokesperson for the airline said it had “shared many communications, which on the whole make clear that deciding whether or not to unionise should not be taken lightly.”


Politicians and union representatives were among those to condemn the posters online.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said the posters were “a disgrace”.

“I say to Delta: Stop trying to undercut workers’ right to form a union and negotiate for better wages,” he tweeted.

The pro-union people are permitted to say any outlandish thing they want about the company. They tell the workers how evil the company is… how greedy they are… how selfish they are… how badly they treat employees… and on and on and on. All of this in an effort to encourage people to unionize. But when a company makes the slightest effort to discourage the employees from unionizing, the socialist bullies immediately pounce on them.

No, Bernie, Delta wasn’t trying to “undercut workers’ right(s).” They were merely presenting a counter-argument. That is allowed in a free country, but not in Bernie’s socialist paradise.

West Bend Teacher Union Negotiations at an Impasse

From the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting:

Recommended Action
I move to declare negotiations with the WBEA for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 at impasse, and to implement the District’s final proposal for both years.

According to the law, if the two parties can’t agree, the school board can declare the negotiations at an impasse. This then allows the board to impose their last best offer.

What I find odd is the timing. When the School Board held the annual meeting less than three weeks ago, they specifically noted that they had not yet begun negotiations with the union. It was a point of contention because the proposed budget had about a million dollars in compensation increases, but no information on how that money was to be allocated.

Now, less than three week later, the board has conducted exhaustive negotiations for last year’s and this year’s compensation plans to the point that they are at an impasse? It strikes me that either the negotiating team at the district has a hair trigger at declaring an impasse, which would be unfair to teachers, or that this is a predetermined tactic because the school district is giving the teachers everything they want anyway. By declaring an impasse, the union can continue the fiction of victimhood.

Or I suppose a third scenario could be that the district was already conducting negotiations at the time of the annual meeting and simply lied about it. I don’t think that’s likely.

Tesla’s Union Busting Ways

Huh. The darling of the Left hates unions. Can’t blame ’em.

Tesla and its billionaire owner, Elon Musk, have earned a reputation for union-busting efforts over the past few years. In February 2017, Musk accused a factory worker who outlined several issues within Tesla in a Medium blogpost of being a “union plant”. In an email, Musk also promised workers free frozen yogurt in a letter to employees that framed unionization efforts as an effort against Tesla by big car companies. The same month, Tesla employee Michael Sanchez alleged he was asked to leave the Tesla factory by security for handing out pro-union flyers outside to fellow employees.

The NLRB filed a complaint currently on trial over Musk’s alleged promise to workers in a June 2017 meeting to fix safety standard concerns if they refrained from efforts to form a union. Several similar charges against Tesla are currently under consideration by the NLRB, including one alleging surveillance and intimidation against workers attempting to form a union.

Complaints from workers over being fired for engaging in efforts to unionize at Tesla have become common. “I was a union supporter. I wore a union shirt almost every day to work and my supervisor at the time asked me why I wore it,” said Jim Owen, who left the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, in March 2018 due to concerns for his safety after a robot almost severely injured him while working on car hoods. “He told me upper management wouldn’t appreciate me wearing it.”

Unions Recruit

Hysterical much?

Gunshots ring out from the nearby hunting range across the railroad tracks in Westmoreland City, Pennsylvania, but Jason Davis is not easily deterred.

“You never know what’s going happen when you knock on someone’s door,” says Davis as we get out of his car to start walking the hills of this blue-collar, Trump-supporting community in the foothills of the mountains of south-western Pennsylvania.

Davis is going door-to-door to rally support for a teacher’s union after a historic supreme court decision – Janus vs AFSCME – that threatens its funding and that of all other US public sector unions.

“Gunshots ring out…” Geez, what is he expecting? There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Davis trying to rally support for his union. Now that people aren’t forced to be in a union they don’t want to be in, I suspect that the passions around them will diminish with time.

Unions Should Look to the NRA

Interesting thought. Of course, unions are supposed to be about negotiating with business owners on behalf of their members, but so many of them have just become political activist groups.

One model for unions in the post-Janus era could be another modestly financed and increasingly unpopular membership organization: the National Rifle Association. Though a villain in the eyes of labor’s allies on the left, the gun lobby’s staying power in American politics should be an inspiration to activist groups across the spectrum.

What could unions learn from the NRA? For one thing, you can have clout without money. To be sure, the NRA throws money around, but not as much as you think. Last year it spent $4m on lobbying – about the same amount as the dairy farmers’ lobby, and just over a tenth of what the National Association of Realtors spent. The Chamber of Commerce, the country’s main business lobby, spent $100m more than the NRA did. For presidential elections, the NRA spends more: $30m on Trump, more than twice what it spent on Romney in 2012, but less than the top Super Pacs and two individuals, the conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and liberal hedge fund manager Tom Steyer. In 2017, the NRA spent just over $1m on federal races, compared to the $12.7m spent by Comcast.

To even call the NRA a “gun lobby” obscures the real source of its power: its members. The respective opponents of unions and the NRA both focus disproportionately on their money. Gun control advocates organize boycotts to “defund the NRA”; unions still get called “big labor” with a straight face by business lobbies that outspend them 10 to 1. This kind of economic reductionism misses the real added value membership organizations offer to the parties they favor: boots on the ground for elections.

Wisconsin Public Safety Unions Face Changes

It will be interesting to see if public safety unions will see the same erosion of dues paying members as other public unions did.

Public-safety worker unions in Wisconsin cannot require that fees be paid by non-union members under a pivotal ruling issued Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Scott Walker touted the national ruling as a sign Wisconsin was ahead of the curve seven years ago when it passed a landmark law curtailing the power of public unions.

Most public unions in Wisconsin were barred from collecting so-called “fair-share” fees by Act 10, the 2011 state law that broadly curtailed their power. But that law exempted public-safety unions such as police, firefighters and the State Patrol.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies the ban on requiring payment of fair-share fees by non-union members to all public unions nationwide. It overturns a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay such fees to unions that represent them in collective bargaining even if the workers choose not to join — so long as the fees cover only the unions’ costs to bargain and their administration, not their political or advocacy work.

As was the case in Wisconsin after Act 10, the national Supreme Court ruling is likely to cause public union membership elsewhere to decrease and their political clout to wane, one expert said.

SCOTUS Rules Against Forced Union Dues

Excellent. Forced unionization has been a century-long stain on the freedom of association.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has barred public-employee contracts requiring workers to pay union dues, dealing a severe blow to perhaps the strongest remaining redoubt of the American labor movement.

The 5-4 vote, along conservative-liberal lines, overruled a 1977 precedent that had fueled the growth of public-sector unionization even as representation has withered in private industry. More than one-third of public employees are unionized, compared with just 6.5% of those in the private sector, according to a January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The impact is likely to stretch far beyond the workplace, sapping resources from unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association that have provided funds, resources and activists largely in support of Democratic candidates.


Under that theory, it would violate the First Amendment for government to condition a job on subsidizing political speech a worker may oppose—and therefore public-employment contracts including union-security clauses would be unconstitutional. The court majority has now accepted that argument.

Unions Using Dirty Tricks to Skirt Law


In Wisconsin, for instance, United Steelworkers Local 2-482 makes workers wait up to 13 months before the union will stop grabbing dues from their paychecks.

That’s the subject of an ongoing legal battle led by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of Donald Dillabough, an employee at the Clearwater Paper Corp. plant in Neenah. 

In December, Dillabough emailed the SteelWorkers local informing officials there that he was resigning from the union and revoking his authorization for the union to automatically collect dues from his paycheck. Easy enough under Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, right? 


Union officials denied the request. They claimed it was not submitted during the union’s self-created “window period.” The labor organization had established a 13-month waiting period in between windows in which employees are able to withdraw their membership, according to the foundation. 

Patrick Semmens, vice president of Public Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said the prolonged waiting period is just one of many tricks unions have pulled in emerging right-to-work states like Wisconsin, which became the 25th state to adopt a worker freedom law more than three years ago.

“What we see are these union policies where they go, ‘Okay, you’re allowed to resign your union membership at any time, but you have to keep paying union dues, except when you revoke in this small, little window,” Semmens told MacIver News Service this week on the Vicki McKenna Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. “This is something we are seeing all around the country.”

Unions are Killing Air France

For those of us who remember Midwest Express, this is a somewhat familiar tale.

Air France’s trade unions are demanding an immediate pay rise of 5.1%. That looks bearable set against profits of €1.5bn ($1.8bn) last year. But a decent-looking performance in 2017 owed much to low oil prices. Its finances are weakening fast. Mr Janaillac had warned of a big drop in profits this year. A series of 14 one-day strikes has already cost Air France at least €300m in recent weeks.

The threat of Air France’s inflated cost base swelling further scares investors, says Daniel Roeska of Bernstein, a research firm. Some Air France pilots may earn two to three times as much as those at Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, Ryanair. Since 2012 Air France has made much less money than its rivals (see chart). Rising fuel costs, only half of which are hedged, and a squeeze on fares caused by airline overcapacity in Europe threaten to plunge Air France into the red sooner than its peers. A huge debt pile also leaves the group looking vulnerable. Ross Harvey of Davy, an investment firm, says its net debt last year (including leases) was 2.4 times gross operating profits, compared with 0.4 for Ryanair and 0.7 for easyJet and Lufthansa.

Other flag-carriers across Europe have also been squeezed, on short-haul routes by the rise of low-cost outfits and on long-haul routes by carriers from the Middle East and China. But their answer has been to slash costs to return to the black. IAG has forced through big cuts to jobs and pay at British Airways and Iberia of Spain, as has Lufthansa in Germany. Facing intransigent unions, Alan Joyce of Qantas in Australia even grounded his airline until they caved in. All have launched their own low-cost carriers to take the fight to their new rivals.

Unable to make much headway against the unions, Air France’s management chose another track. After cancelling Mr de Juniac’s proposed restructuring, Mr Janaillac launched a plan to cover the airline’s costs by improving service and by lobbying in Brussels against low-cost and Middle Eastern competitors.

The problem is that the market is shifting/has shifted. Most consumers are not willing to pay more for the “extras” in air travel. As a frequent flier, I miss the days of bigger seats, better food, and more room. But the market has spoken. And, frankly, I’m willing to pay a little more for the extras, but not a lot.

The the case of Air France, the market won’t allow them to increase their prices to a level to keep up with the costs that the unions are demanding. Fuel prices will continue to fluctuate, but the labor costs are relatively fixed. Air France is attempting to fight their competitors by asking the government to protect Air France, but that’s not working. Air France’s management have limited options and the unions aren’t willing to recognize that the market won’t allow what they are asking for.

Absent a government bailout, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Air France go bankrupt by the end of next year. Their union issues make them unattractive for acquisition or merger, so their competitors will just wait for them to fold and then pick up the pieces.

Unions Want to Eat the Cake

This is kind of funny… except for the workers.

Unions representing about 35,000 Disney World workers say Disney is refusing to pay their members $1,000 tax cut bonuses.
Disney (DIS) announced the $1,000 bonuses last month for 125,000 U.S. employees. The company said at that time that the bonuses would go to full and part-time employees, including those represented by unions “currently working under existing union contracts.”


Disney said its offer to the union was a raise of 50 cents an hour or 3% of pay, whichever is greater.

As to whether the employees should get the same bonuses as other employees Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said, “Wages and bonuses are part of our negotiation process. We will continue to meet with the union to move toward a ratified agreement.”

The unions want to negotiate everything to do with the compensation plans – except when they don’t. They want the $1,000 bonuses paid outside of the contract negotiations even though bonuses would normally be something included in the negotiations. They know that it makes them look bad when all of the non-unionized employees are getting nice bonuses while they are mired in negotiations. Funny how that works.

Supreme Court Rules on Open Records

 This looks like a good balance.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, deciding along ideological lines, said Tuesday that a state agency that oversees public employee union recertification elections can delay the release of voter records to prevent voter intimidation.

Government openness advocates warned that the ruling could have a broad impact on the public’s right to know how its government works because it allows records custodians to consider the perceived motivations of requesters when determining whether to release records.

The court’s 5-2 decision overturns a ruling in Dane County Circuit Court that favored Madison Teachers Inc.

MTI sued the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which in 2015 denied MTI’s requests for lists of teachers who did and did not vote in the annual union recertification election. MTI had sought the records under the state’s open records law, but WERC denied the release of the records during the election because it feared that MTI would use that information to intimidate voters who had not yet voted.


Roggensack wrote that WERC Commissioner James Scott properly balanced the considerations of the state’s open records law with concerns about voter intimidation before deciding not to release voter records during the election.

“Preventing voter intimidation during elections conducted by phone and email, as occurred here, is challenging,” Roggensack wrote. “Given MTI’s repeated requests for the names of those who voted before the election concluded, it is entirely possible that those employees who had not yet voted would become subject to individualized pressure by MTI of a type that MTI could not exert when speaking to all members of the bargaining unit collectively.”

These records are public and should be released, but there is good reason to not release them as an election is in process. This is especially true when it comes to groups that have a history of using intimidation tactics.

Less than Half of School Districts Have a Certified Union

Looks like teachers aren’t choosing the union.

Six years after Gov. Scott Walker and state Republicans made labor unions’ ability to retain members much more difficult, fewer than half of the state’s 422 school districts have certified unions.

In the latest certification election — held in November and required by Walker’s signature 2011 legislation known as Act 10 — staff and teachers in 199 school districts voted to remain in a bargaining unit, or 47 percent, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

What’s frustrating is that it is now clear that Wisconsin’s forced-unionization laws kept so many teachers in unions against their will for so many years. How much money was taken out of their pay over the years to support a union they didn’t want to be in? How many decisions were made on their behalf that they didn’t want? Now that they have a choice, we see how many teachers don’t want to be in a union.

Union Membership in Wisconsin Plummets

The MacIver Institute churned through the numbers for us. For all of the wailing from unions, they really aren’t that popular when people aren’t forced to be in them.

Since Act 10 and right to work, there have been some interesting developments across Wisconsin. compiles Census Bureau data and provides a great look at some of the Wisconsin metro areas’ union data.

In the metro area of Madison, a hive of organized labor, union membership has decreased significantly since its peak of 21.1 percent of the workforce in 2010. When the law really started to effect change in contracts in 2012, the rate dropped to 10 percent. The state’s capital city employs many of the state employees affected by the legislation, – many of whom joined the massive, big labor-led protests against Act 10 at the Capitol in late winter 2011.

Despite liberal Madison’s seeming love of unions, only 5.4 percent of Madison area workers were union members in 2016. While there were well over 56,000 members in the Madison metropolitan area in 2010, there were just over 20,000 as of the most recent data.

The Fox Cities area, including Appleton, Oshkosh, and Neenah, also has seen declines, although not as pronounced as Madison. A peak of 16.5 percent in 2010 followed a drop in 2011 to 11.6 percent. Similar results followed the introduction of right-to-work freedoms, with a drop from 11.2 percent to 9.6 percent from 2014 to 2015. Union membership continues to decrease.

The Milwaukee metropolitan area saw a sharp decline in union participation following implementation of the right-to-work law. In 2014, the rate was 10.2 percent before dropping to 7.4 percent in 2015. The rate has since risen to 9.1 percent.

Overall, the state of Wisconsin has seen recent decreases across the board, including declines following both reform measures. The worker exodus from union was more dramatic early on. A 29.1 percent drop in union membership rates in 2015 was succeeded by a modest decline from 8.3 to 8.1 percent in 2016. Close to 355,000 employees were union members in 2010. More than 125,000 Wisconsinites have left their unions since 2010, with only 218,000 members today.

Union Membership Down in Wisconsin

It’s good to see people freely making choices about the organizations they join.

In 2016, the percentage of public and private workers who were members of unions was 8.1 percent, or 219,000 union members. That’s down by 136,000 members, or 38.3 percent, since 2010 levels, the year before passage of Act 10, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

SEIU Plans to Cut Budget


The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is planning to cut 30 percent of its budget by Jan. 1, 2018, the end of President-elect Donald Trump‘s first year in office.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The SEIU will begin with a 10 percent budget cut immediately at the start of 2017. The union’s current annual budget is $300 million.

If it wasn’t clear that the SEIU is a radical liberal activist organization, their comments here should make it clear. This is not your parents’ union simply working for better working conditions for its members. This is an organization bent on societal change toward socialism.

It is also worth noting that many of the employees of government who will be charged with enacting Trump’s policies are active members in the SEIU. It will be difficult for him to enact change because many of these people will undermine him every step of the way.

It’s a good thing that they are being weakened. We should follow FDR’s advice and forbid government employees from unionizing altogether.

The Evolution of Wisconsin’s Public Sector Unions

The Milwaukee paper has a very good, and very long, story about the history of Wisconsin’s public sector unions. It goes back to their foundation, covers the illegal teacher strikes and responses in the 70s, the growth in the 80s, the political concentration in the 90s, and what’s been happening since Act 10. It is a pretty straight forward piece and worth the read.

I found this little tidbit interesting:

After Act 10’s passage, the 4,500-member Milwaukee union took a hard look at the local’s work and found that 85% of its time went toward litigating disputes and misconduct cases involving 2% of its members.

To broaden the union’s appeal to potential members, especially younger teachers, leaders shifted to working with the district on improved classroom practices, new student discipline techniques and culturally responsive teaching.

What a nice consequence of Act 10 for Milwaukee’s teachers. Instead of focusing the vast majority of resources on protecting bad apples, the union is trying to do things to benefit the majority of teachers. I know they will never admit it, but surely some of Milwaukee’s teachers are appreciative of the union’s renewed focus – even if it is a consequence of Act 10.



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