Why Act 10 was necessary

I’m reading The Battle for Wisconsin by Andrew E. Kersten. I picked it up from Amazon for some research I’ve started.

The work is terribly one-sided, or at least it was meant to be one-sided, and then I run across stuff like this which easily makes a right-sided point:

Union membership for the private sector is a paltry 6.9%, while the rate for public-sector workers is 36.2%.

(Those numbers appear to be national.)

Keep in mind, private-sector unions increase the cost of the goods and services you want to acquire. Public-sector unions increase the cost of the taxes you must pay.

A lot of attention is being paid for the week on what is being touted by Democrats in the state as Governor Walker’s “divide and conquer” strategy. Yes. It was a good one. And hello? It appears to have worked.

But don’t confuse Act 10 with “taking out unions.” Unions remain. Act 10 simply leveled the playing field that was tilted strongly in favor of draining your wallet through taxes.


  1. Since the private sector unions drive up the cost of goods and services, how much should we cut wages? If we bring the average wage down to say $5 per hour the price of products will fall, right. Except US companies have off shored their manufacturing to places where workers are making a lot less than here and prices have not dropped but profits have risen. Good luck in the right to work for less economy.

  2. Cranky, cranky, cranky.

    The market comes into play in that situation. Buy from a company who can produce for less. Don’t buy. It’s all part of the list of options. Not so for taxes.

    I really don’t think Wisconsin is headed for right to work, I think it’s going to balance out on its own given the way the government reigned in the public sector unions, but I also think it’s important you remember that right-to-work is working for a number of states.

  3. “Don’t buy. It’s all part of the list of options. Not so for taxes.”

    That’s not really true. If you really wanted to, you could move to a state with lower taxes. Obviously, there is something you like about Wisconsin that those states with lower taxes don’t have. I’d be curious to know what it is, and I hope for your sake that it’s not something that Scott Walker is chipping away at.

  4. jimspice says:

    “…private-sector unions increase the cost of the goods and services you want to acquire.”

    They also increase wages for non-union jobs. Zap unions and watch ALL wages fall.

    Returning to the more progressive tax structure that existed for the bulk of the last century would largely correct this situation. And isn’t that the time frame that conservatives look back on longingly?

  5. Randy in Richmond says:

    Who has suggested that unions be zapped? In her last paragraph Cindy states just the opposite. jimspice, what ‘situation’ would be corrected by “returning to a more progressive tax structure”?

    dp, if I understand Act 10 it has little to no effect on the unions ability to bargain over wages. And right to work is not really about luck. We have it in my state and financially we are doing okay.

  6. Yes, Alex, Wisconsin has my husband’s paycheck. Funny how you still tend to show up for those kinds of things. No, Walker is not chipping away at that one. WDC messes with his profession and then, but Walker is off the hook.

    jimspice, I am going to get into that one a little today as I’m still very curious about it. What I will tell you from a lifetime of being reared in a private union household (IBEW) is that the laws changed to affect the public unions would not have been a problem for the private unions. One can choose to work for a non-union shop just as easily as a union one. Participation was entirely voluntary by location, not mandated by profession. The word brotherhood was not bantered lightly. Most of dad’s apprenticeship class came for his memorial service. Those guys have been a part of my life as long as I’ve had a memory. You are ill advised to banter with me on this issue unless you know exactly of what you speak.

    Perhaps to your second point, but if only 6.9% of the workforce is attached to a private union, should we be making policy to only benefit 6.9%? Plus we already have a hefty progressive tax structure. Ask those of us actually paying taxes.

    (Update about half an hour later)

    You know jimspice I’m a bit amused at how offended you are by the admission of a “divide and conquer” strategy. I’ve decided you are offended by it because it worked. In a few weeks we’ll know if those offended by the successful strategy outnumber those who are pleased with it. But to use the strategy as “proof” Walker is a bad person? That’s downright silly. It’s an attempt to create controversy where none exists. Boo hoo. and all that.

  7. Randy in Richmond says:

    For a guy with no college degree Walker was savvy enough to utilize the “divide and conquer” tactic from another elected official that does have a degree from Harvard Law School.

  8. J. Strupp says:

    “Zap unions and watch ALL wages fall.”

    Not true. Salaries of doctors, lawyers and many other high paying careers won’t be effected because they’re largely protected from foreign competition. If we subjected these jobs to foreign competition, like we did our manufacturing sector via NAFTA, many of these high paying salaries would be sliced in half. These people have the money to lobby Washington so their wages are safe.

  9. jimspice says:

    You guys can talk around it all you want, but the fact of the matter is that “right-to-work” is a central tenet of the conservative agenda. Ask Diane Hendricks; I mean, she gets a few minutes in “private” with the governor and among the first things out of her mouth is “right-to-work.”

    So Cindy, given your affinity for the union brothers you know and have known, can I get your assurance that you’ll be on board for raising hell when the legislation is presented?

    And yes, J. Strupp, weakening one earning sector of a market will have negative consequences for all earners; it’s Econ 101.

  10. Randy in Richmond says:

    jimspice says, “Zap unions and watch ALL wages fall.”

    Strupp says “not true”.

    jimspice says yes to Strupp and then, “weakening one earning sector of a market will have negative consequences for all earners”.

    I’m confused.

  11. No hell expected, jimspice. Unions will still be allowed. Those who choose to join, will join.

  12. J. Strupp says:

    “..weakening one earning sector of a market will have negative consequences for all earners; it’s Econ 101.”

    Wrong again. Quite the opposite in certain cases. We still live in protectionist country, Spice. Tell me how salaries of doctors today have been negatively impacted by the deunionization of skilled and unskilled labor in this country? They haven’t been (and won’t be) because they have the financial resources to successfully influence Washington to keep protectionist measures in place and maintain current salary levels. If, say, American doctors were subjected to foreign competition (as our manufacturing sector has been subjected to), what do you think this would do to doctor salaries and, therefore, medical costs in this country? Which class of Americans do you think would reap most of the financial reward of this move?

    Your “econ. 101” argument is incorrect because you assume that all white collar, private sector jobs are under the same pressure from global competition and many are not.

    Since I seriously doubt that this country is interested in re-unionizing (public and private), you should be pushing for the same deregulation that’s been forced upon you for many high end, white collar jobs in which you would benefit from increased competition and lower costs.

    Keep in mind that most of these people you would be effecting vote GOP, so you would be enjoying the cost benefit of cheaper medical bills, deficit reduction. etc., while at the same time, siphoning money out of GOP (re)-election coffers.

    Sound like fun?

  13. jimspice says:

    Cindy, we all know voluntary membership equals the end of unions. Two words: free rider.

    JStrupp, you don’t seem to be denying the fact that a decrease in unionized teachers’ compensation leads directly to a decrease in non-unionized teachers’ compensation, and that is fairly obvious, so good. Same with unionized/non-unionized jobs in construction and mill work and security and transportation and EVERY segment of labor and service. So with the entire blue collar middle class taking a hit, you think think doctors, your example of choice, will be able to maintain their price point? I don’t. In fact, with the pinnacle of the decision making structure having shifted from doctors to insurance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see doctors’ unions become the next big thing.

  14. @jimspice, the “free rider” argument is false. A union can negotiate on behalf of its members and need not negotiate on behalf of non-members. By saying that “voluntary membership” spells the death of unions, basically you are saying that rational people would never join a union. I don’t think that’s the case.

  15. jimspice says:

    “…rational people would never join a union.”

    If non-dues-paying workers gain the same benefits as dues-paying workers, yes, that is what I am saying. If they do NOT, that is, you end up with a shop with different pay rates/bennies based on union membership, well then management would just fill the rolls with people with non-union clauses in their contracts. It has to be all or nothing. It’s the only way it works. Imagine if taxation were voluntary.

  16. I think the problem jimspice is that your definition of union is that provided by the public-sector version. Right-to-work is here in Oklahoma and I can promise you union shops are still doing just fine.

    The men and women I know from IBEW preach quality, value, and training. The union gives the opportunity for health care and pensions the members might not have from the smaller shops. A whole lot of union can happen without your approval.

    Can you sort of get over it now?

  17. J. Strupp says:

    “So with the entire blue collar middle class taking a hit, you think think doctors, your example of choice, will be able to maintain their price point? I don’t.”

    Uh? We’ve been de-unionizing and subjecting many blue collar, middle class jobs to global competition for the better part of 30 years and doctors (my example) have been able to maintain their salaries just fine. How many more years of proof do you need Jim?

  18. ACt 10 would not have been necessary to allegedly “level a playing field” (read: destroy the playing field) if you had elected state, municipal, and school board officials who did their jobs to negotiate what you wanted with the unions.

    And now, Act 10 has empowered those officials you elected with even more authority to screw up (and without knowing what they’re doing in labor law, as unions do, a lot of those officials probably will screw up illegally and cost you a lot in lawsuits, as Walker did to Milwaukee).

    This is your idea of a solution? This is idiocy.

    The solution is to elect smarter officials, ones with spines, and to hold them to their jobs.

  19. Randy in Richmond says:

    You make the very argument as to why public employee unions are a very bad idea and many states do not allow them. The real “employers” of public workers are the people of the jurisdiction involved. Unions represent the interests of their members, while the people’s interests are represented by their elected officials. Unions are deeply involved in political campaigns, spending union funds for or against selected candidates, to influence the election of the local goverments–thus a huge conflict of interest.

    The solution is to not have public employee unions. Having them is akin to the workers of a publicly held company being the ones who elect and/or campaign for the Board of Directors of that same company.