Wisconsin was the birthplace of American public-sector unionism, where in 1936 the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) first organized in Madison. How ironic then that Wisconsin may also be the place where in 2011 public-sector unions began to die.
Like a lot of states, Wisconsin is in dire fiscal shape, facing a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. Desperate to avoid layoffs yet still put his state’s financial house in order, newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would strip Wisconsin’s state employees – whose bloated pensions and benefit packages have significantly contributed to the mess – of most of its collective bargaining rights (police and firefighters are exempted).