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Were state government employees somehow in danger of swinging en masse to the Republican Party had Big Labor not started to collect their dues?
While most members of public-employee unions loudly voted against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the ballot box, they have silently endorsed his most controversial policy shift at the bank-teller cage. Since Walker and the Wisconsin legislature made union dues optional for state workers, hordes of state workers have opted out of their unions.
The Wall Street Journal reports that American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) membership in Wisconsin dropped from 62,818 in March 2011 to 28,745 in February 2012. This is another way of saying that many public employees agreed with Governor Scott Walker that workers rather than unions should determine how the wages of laborers are spent. With annual paycheck deductions approaching $1,000 for a teacher in Milwaukee’s public schools, and about half that for most other state workers, Walker’s reform represents a substantial pay raise for most public workers.
Where unions reign, workers feel pain. It’s hard to look at Flint, Michigan, Lawrence, Massachusetts, or Youngstown, Ohio, and not see a half-eaten corpse of a community. Now that unionization predominates in the public rather than the private sector, state and local budgets are becoming the basket cases that post-industrial ghost towns have already become. Just as businessmen can’t afford out-of-whack wages and benefits, politicians discover that their budgets can’t afford them, either.
Still, Democratic politicians who rely on Big Labor’s money and volunteers can’t afford to rebuff Big Labor’s demands for Big Government. When the Democratic politicians and the Democratic unions operate at cross purposes the result, as events in Jeffrey Dahmer’s home state demonstrate, is a party eating its own. And cannibalism, like political metaphors alluding to it, is just in bad taste.
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