A funny thing happened to union membership in Wisconsin

Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was able to obtain the passage of new laws dealing with public sector unions in Wisconsin.  Their employees now actually have to shoulder the burden of paying something close to the value of their health insurance coverage and their future pension costs.  But, there was another interesting provision of the Wisconsin law…

…the state would no longer collect union dues from the state employees’ salaries.  The unions would have to collect those dues themselves.

Personally, I always wondered why a state would use the tax dollars of all residents, union or not, to employ people to do the unions’ bookkeeping, but maybe that’s just me.

As a result of the Wisconsin law, membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees dropped from 62,818 in March 2011 (before the law was passed) to 28,745 in February, 2012. 

That pretty much tells me that, if given the choice to join a union or not, most people would rather keep the cost of union dues in their own pockets. 

Of course, that may be a sign of the times. 

Under President Obama, economic growth has been pathetic.  And, now, even public sector union members know that what their union leadership promised in future benefits is never going to happen.

In any event, given the choice, union members are having second thoughts about their membership.  That’s called “right to work”…you can join a union if you want, or not if you don’t.

There’s that pesky word “choice” again. 

Why do unions and democrats seem focused on eliminating that word from our vocabulary?


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. GdavidH on May 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    They still like “choice” for abortions, among other liberal activities.

  2. dairyair on May 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Yeah, Gdavid, there’s “choice” and there’s “choice.” Even if the politicos–particularly the Dems–weren’t in bed with the unions, the idea of the state collecting dues for them stinks to high Heaven…

  3. JBS on June 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Maybe the unionized government employees in Wisconsin realized that their paycheck only stretched so far. Now having to pay for their pensions and a larger share of health insurance, they needed what was left to live on. Funding a union, with its large overhead and overpaid officials, is not what a majority of the former members wanted. Good for them.
    Congratulations to Wisconsin for moving a step further away from union involvement. I would be surprised if Connecticut could ever do it.

  4. Plainvillian on June 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Did Governor Walker trump Trumka?

  5. sammy22 on June 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Will Gov. Walker survive the recall next Tue? If not, things may change again.

    • Lynn on June 2, 2012 at 7:25 am

      Lol, ?that sounds like a Soap Opera lead-in. Darn “Days of Our Lives” has already been used.

    • stinkfoot on June 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Perhaps the libbies can put on a new version: “Dazed of Our Lies”.

    • Dimsdale on June 5, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Or that one from Carol Burnett, “As the Stomach Churns”?

    • Lynn on June 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      General Hospital’s Union

  6. RoBrDona on June 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Yesterday’s Marquette Law Poll – Walker 52% : Barrett 45% with 4.1% margin of error.

  7. phil on June 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I never liked being part of the ‘lowest common denominator’.? If i’m good, pay me.? If I’m crap, fire my ass!

  8. winnie on June 2, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Walker won’t get recalled…unless there are shenanigans at the polling places (like surprise ballots being found in parking lots a la Connecticut).?
    In any event, I happen to like the guy.? He’s saving his state and the democrats/unions cannot stand it.? Makes you wonder what exactly *their* goal is — to bankrupt the state?

    • stinkfoot on June 2, 2012 at 6:53 am

      Looking at the actions of our governor and legislature in CT, one might logically assume that the goal is to gut the finances of the working class through punitive taxes and find creative ways of diverting the revenue to unions instead of maintaining the infrastructure.? Is it any wonder that unions love these economy destroying liberals and are pushing for the recall of a conservative like Walker?? Expect union sponsored disruption in Wisconsin if the recall fails as it should.?? It’s too bad we can’t recall Malloy here.

  9. Lynn on June 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

    SOS is right again, ” There’s that pesky word choice again”. We could all move to Wisconsin, but not for me! It is too cold and I don’ t like the state sport of ice fishing.?

    • RoBrDona on June 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Watch out – the unions will sponsor a “no catching pickerel while drinking” law.

  10. Linda Mae on June 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I called my brother and read the paragraph from the WSJ article about the @ 50% drop in union membership.? I’m a life-time member of NEA/CEA and have supported what our union asked for since 1966.? I was totally embarrassed? by the actions of the WI union.? That they paid nothing into their pension, and so little towards their health insurance and complained when asked to do so angered me.? To me, it showed lack of integrity.? That they brainwashed their students to rally with them is unethical.? Teachers teach – never preach.? And they should provide both sides of any situation. Good luck, WI!

  11. Dimsdale on June 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Well, I was in SEIU and now it various teacher’s unions, and they endorse Dems down the line.? Then they are ignored when it comes to raises etc., but can’t seem to put together the fact that the Dems are the ones screwing them, time after time.? They don’t realize that even if you don’t like Republicans, it is good to have some leverage in the form of “somewhere else to go” at voting time, which they don’t, and your state seems to be lacking as well.
    There’s stupid, and then there is lock step stupid….

    • Lynn on June 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      My sister sees the “light” of her Union. I wouldn’t mind so much if Unions polled their membership and supported causes of the majority, but they don’t. They ASSUME.


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