Wisconsin Public Employees Exercise Freedom to Choose

Wisconsin unions have spent the better part of the past three years denouncing Governor Scott Walker’s signature public-sector collective bargaining reform law, Act 10.

However, the law has withstood all union tactics, remains the law of the land, and continues to work for the benefit of taxpayers and government workers alike.

For example, it is well documented that Act 10 has saved Wisconsin taxpayers billions of dollars–primarily by reforming public pension and healthcare systems.

Of comparable importance, Act 10 enhanced public employee freedom to choose when it comes to union representation. A key provision requires annual union recertification elections. Under Gov. Walker’s reform, at least 51 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 because, as research conducted by the Center for Union Facts found, only 7.3 percent of employees actually voted for their union. Simply, requiring recertification elections ensures the majority of workers a union represents (and collect dues from) still want a union.

Since Act 10 became law, public workers have used their new found freedom to rid themselves of their inherited union representation. And this year is no different. The MacIver Institute reports:

In elections that ended last Tuesday, government workers voted to decertify 25 school district unions that sought recertification. Plus, 100 fewer unions than last year chose to seek recertification. Last year, 408 units sought recertification. This year, the number was down to 305.

In 2013, “More than 80 unions lost recertification votes during last year’s elections.”

Unfortunately, as I’ve previously mentioned, private-sector workers do not enjoy the same freedom as Wisconsin’s public employees in determining their own representation, and the sole means of removing an unwanted union for private-sector workers is an extremely difficult process.

However, the Employee Rights Act, a bill sponsored by Representative Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would amend the National Labor Relations Act, which governs private-sector labor relations, to require union recertification elections when a bargaining unit “experiences turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit.” Once this happens, a secret-ballot recertification election is triggered and a vote on whether to keep union representation takes place.

Hopefully with a new Republican majority in the Senate, the ERA will become a priority and give private-sector workers the freedom they deserve.