September 20, 2013
Original article appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
More public workers decide not to join when they have the choice.
One of 2011’s biggest political stories was the conflagration in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s plans to reform the state’s relationship with public employee unions. Two years later the fires have ebbed. Reason? Many union members are deciding there’s little point in belonging to a union.
Witness the city of Kenosha. This month the Kenosha Education Association was decertified after it missed a deadline in the certification process, eliminating its ability to bargain for wages. That was the latest in a series of similar decisions by teachers-union members to jettison union representation. In 2011 and 2012, some 13% of 207 Wisconsin school districts and 39 municipal
and state units were decertified.
Under Governor Walker’s 2011 union-reform law, a majority of union members have to vote each year to recertify the union as their representative. If less than 50% of members vote to keep the union and pay union dues, the union effectively loses its ability to bargain for wages. A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state affiliate of the NEA, said recently, “It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the [Kenosha union] is an outlier or unique.”
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