If you’d like to know what “leadership” looks like, if you’d like to know what “courage” looks like, look no further than Madison, Wisconsin. You’ll find the definition of both sitting in the Governor’s office in the person of Scott Walker.
There is no man in the United States who is more hated, Barack Obama included, by more people than Scott Walker. There’s also no man who is more successful. Scott Walker won the Governor’s office four years ago promising to fix the state’s completely trashed finances. In his first year he got “Act 10” passed through the Wisconsin legislature, and Act 10 essentially stripped public employee unions of bargaining rights for everything but wages, and those can’t exceed cost-of-living. It also required union recertification elections every year.
If you recall, Democrats in the state senate left the state and went to Illinois to avoid a quorum so they could avoid voting on Act 10. They were finally forced to come back and do their job and Act 10 passed in the face of overwhelming labor demonstrations that shut down the state capitol for over a week. Unionized public school teachers called in sick at a rate that shut down many pubic school districts (they’re for the “children,” remember), public health service doctors set up shop on the sidewalks of Madison to write “sick notices” for other public employees, unions like AFSCME bused in “protestors” from all over the country to show “solidarity.”
Scott Walker never lost his cool, he never blinked. Act 10 passed.
- Unions and democrats, sorry for the redundancy, went to court. They lost up and down the line.
- They poured millions into an off-cycle election for a Wisconsin Supreme Court vacancy, working to elect a union toad. They lost that election.
- They had a petition drive to recall Scott Walker, they got enough signatures to put it on the ballot, along with recalls of several state senators in order to get a majority in the state senate. Despite millions of dollars of out-of-state union money and out-of-state union boots on the ground, Scott Walker won the recall by a larger margin than he won his original election and the Republicans held the state senate.
Just before Act 10 went into effect a number of school districts in very liberal parts of the purple state – notably in Madison and Milwaukee – gave their unionized teachers long term contracts to avoid certification elections. When Act 10 finally went into effect the Wisconsin public employee union rolls dropped by about 40% when employees who had been forced to be members exercised their right to free association and stopped paying union dues. Since then, unions have been pounded at every round of recertification elections.
This year was especially bad for unions, but especially good for employees rights and for taxpayers in Wisconsin.
…a MacIver report last year [2012, just one year into it’s implementation] showed that Wisconsin taxpayers had saved just over $2 billion.
Savings continued to increase over the last 12 months and now total just under $3 billion. The analysis did confirm $2.7 billion in continued savings from Act 10, but it could be even more.
What, you might ask, did Walker do to the poor public employees to get that kind of savings?
A majority of state and local savings were due to state employees contributing half of their pension contributions and a minimum of 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums.
School districts around the state saw some of the biggest savings under Act 10. A report from the Fordham Institute found that Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) will save $101 million in the year 2020 thanks to Walker’s reforms. In total, MPS is on track to save $1.37 billion in long-term retiree health and life insurance benefit liabilities.
Not much is the answer. We have a “real job” in the private sector. We contribute 100% of our retirement funding (with a small employer match) and pay about 50% of our health insurance premiums. We’re typical. In Wisconsin, when private sector employees finally recognized the screwing they were getting from teachers and other state employees, they got mad as hell. That’s why Scott Walker won reelection this past month in a walk, again, despite millions of dollars of union money pouring into the state. Unions cared more about beating Scott Walker and his allies in the Wisconsin Legislature more than they cared about keeping the US Senate. They lost both, and in Walker’s case, he won by his biggest margin ever.
The march to freedom in Wisconsin continues.
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.
Scott Walker is a leader, a man with real spine who doesn’t back down when the heat turns up. It’s worth noting that Act 10 was also a good deal for teachers. We noted earlier that many school districts in “progressive” areas of the state gave their unions long term contracts to avoid the inevitable. In every one of those school districts teachers were laid off because of fiscal problems in the districts. In the rest of Wisconsin, where Act 10 was the law, not one school teacher was laid off.
Remember that the next time you hear the blood suckers who run teachers unions crying, “It’s for the children…”