Mismatch of Support in Wisconsin
Republican Stars Stump for Gov. Walker in Recall Election, While Most Democrats Steer Clear
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker found himself fighting for his political life, many of the Republican Party’s rising stars had one thing to say: How can we help?
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana hopped on a plane to urge Wisconsin voters to support Mr. Walker in a recall election, coming up on Tuesday. New Jersey’s Chris Christie, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, also visited. A planned trip by Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia was thwarted by storms; he went on TV to praise Mr. Walker.
And the Democrats? Their eagerness to enter the contest has been noticeably more muted. Though former president Bill Clinton visited Friday to energize the party base, few other Democratic luminaries have shown up, and the White House has been restrained in its show of support.
The stakes are high in Tuesday’s expensive and bitter recall vote, triggered by a union-led backlash to Mr. Walker’s law limiting collective bargaining by public-sector unions. But the paucity of top Democratic figures standing by Mr. Walker’s opponent suggests what independent polls have indicated—that the tide may have turned the GOP’s way.
Much more at the link. And here’s another story:
posted at 10:41 am on June 1, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Popquiz, hotshots*: You have public-employee unions that force public-sector employees to pay dues and make the state act as their bagman. The state refuses to collect dues and changes the law to make dues and union membership entirely voluntary. What do people do?
That’s easy … they quit paying the dues:
Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership—by more than half for the second-biggest union—since a law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker sharply curtailed their ability to bargain over wages and working conditions.
Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers—fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.
Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.
A provision of the Walker law that eliminated automatic dues collection hurt union membership. When a public-sector contract expires the state now stops collecting dues from the affected workers’ paychecks unless they say they want the dues taken out, said Peter Davis, general counsel of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
In many cases, Afscme dropped members from its rolls after it failed to get them to affirm they want dues collected, said a labor official familiar with Afscme’s figures.
That’s the reason that the PEUs hit the panic button in February 2011. They knew that the law would severely cut into their membership once the state refused to force dues payments as a condition of employment. This also undermines the credibility of union leaders who claim to speak for public-sector workers, as it shows a significant number of them don’t support the union at all, especially in the literal sense now.
More at the link.
So, does the power of labor unions come from the unity of the members, or from the dollars taken in in dues? There can be many reasons why a union member might choose not to pay dues, and in tough economic times like these, having those dollars in the members’ wallets rather than the union bosses’ coffers might well be seen as a very rational decision by the members. Or, perhaps the now-former union members really did support the work of their union, but figured that, heck, it’ll only be a few people who don’t contribute, so they’ll never notice that I’m out, never guessing that union membership would drop by over half. It could be that many of the workers figured that, with Governor Walker’s policies, their unions were essentially useless anyway. And perhaps, as Mr Morrissey implies, many of the members never wanted to be members at all.
But, whatever their reasons happened to be, one thing that can be said is that for whatever reasons they had, the employees who dropped out valued something else more than they valued continued union membership. From the first story again:
While unions have grumbled about Mr. Obama’s detachment from the recall, they will return to the fold in the fall, the Democratic strategist said.
“Would they prefer that Obama come? Yes,” the strategist said, but added that they won’t defect.
Really? While the union leadership has been firmly in the pockets of the Democrats — or do I have that backwards? — from time immemorial, how the rank-and-file union members actually vote has not been exactly monolithic. For example, in 2004, President Bush won the votes of 38% of union members, compared to 54% of non-unionized workers, certainly not a majority, but a far more substantial minority than the union bosses would like to have seen. That’s pretty much on a par with the union percentages received by John McCain in 2008 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. Why, it’s almost as if union members might have concerns other than just their labor union.
The big labor unions will, of course, all back President Obama in the general election. But the important part is that a solid percentage of their members will vote for Mitt Romney. Perhaps with unemployment rising to 8.2% for May, American workers, including union members, might not see President Obama as doing all that much in helping businesses to create new jobs.