Christian Schneider grabbed a spot at NRO’s Corner and explained what the fights in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio are all about for Da Unions and Da Rats:
But to say these protests are merely about collective-bargaining rights is to say The Godfather is a movie about Italian food.
Since the early 1970s, public-sector unions have been a powerful political force in Wisconsin, as they are in many states. The unions collect dues from their members (up to $1,100 per member per year), which they then use to elect members sympathetic to their causes. In the last two elections, the state’s largest teachers’ union spent $3.6 million supporting their candidates.
Walker has attempted to change that framework, allowing government workers to opt out of paying union dues — which, he has said, he thinks may offset the increased health and pension contributions he’s asking of employees.
And it is this provision that has the unions most up in arms. They know that, given the option, many of their members would choose not to write out a check for union dues. This, in turn, would strangle their election spending, leaving them scrambling for funds and, consequently, influence.
Christian went on to explain how MPS’s decision to acquiesce to MTEA demands in the mid-1970s to pay retiree health care benefits (ultimately a major contributor to the demise of General Motors and Chrysler as private entities) led to an unfunded actuarial liability of over four times the district’s entire annual $1 billion-plus budget, which, if fully-funded on an annual basis, would represent a full 20% of said budget.