Third Largest Wisconsin Teachers Union Members Exercise New Freedom

This week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s government-sector collective bargaining reform was upheld in federal district court. The law, passed in 2011, curtailed collective bargaining privileges of public unions. Specifically, the reform made union dues payments voluntary and requires employees to vote on recertifying the union annually.

Overall the law provides far greater worker choice in government employment. And just yesterday the MacIver Institute reported workers are utilizing their new found freedom:

“According to Milwaukee Radio Host Mark Belling, the Kenosha Education Association has been decertified by its members. Only 37 percent of teachers in the Kenosha Unified School District, the third largest district in the state, voted to reauthorize the union.”

Under Gov. Walker’s reform, at least 50 percent of employees in a collective bargaining unit must vote to retain the union’s representation every year. Forcing unions to recertify is an extremely important policy reform. As the Center for Union Facts has found, the percentage of employees that voted for their union is less than 10 percent.

Unfortunately, private-sector union members do not have the same freedom as Wisconsin’s public employees in choosing of their own representation. Competitive Enterprise Institute Adjunct Fellow Russ Brown explained in Forbes how difficult it is for workers to decertify their union:

“If they decide they don’t want the union representing them, their only option is a decertification election, held after the expiration of a contract or a narrow 30-day window near the end of the third year of a contract. The union can circumvent a time window by agreeing to a new contract before the window opens—thus moving the window to the end of the new contract, when they can move it again.”

Even worse, under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (the law that is supposed to infuse transparency and democracy into unions) allows unions to discipline members who even advocate to decertify their union.