Remembering Act 10: Seven Years Later, More Than $5 Billion Saved

January 12, 2018

MADISON, Wis. – Seven years ago, Wisconsin’s newly elected governor, Scott Walker, introduced his plan to reform collective bargaining for public workers and turn the state’s fiscal picture around. That landmark reform came to be known as Act 10. Despite the ensuing turmoil, the law has been instrumental in reversing Wisconsin’s financial fate.

MacIver was there throughout the Act 10 riots. Lest we start to forget, take a walk down memory lane with some of our top video stories from seven years ago.

On Feb. 11, 2011, Walker first introduced his proposal to limit collective bargaining for government workers and require them to contribute to their own insurance and pensions.

As protesters flooded the Capitol, they were joined by students whose teachers cancelled class and brought them to protest – but the students MacIver talked to seemed unaware of why they were really there.

We also discovered a group of men and women in lab coats purporting to be doctors who were handing out medical excuse notes to government workers skipping out on work to protest, without examining the ‘patients.’ Within the next two years, most would receive reprimands from the state and some would lose up to $4,000 from their jobs at UW.

More than a week into the riots over Act 10, protesters still hadn’t left. In fact, they had set up camp inside the state Capitol and formed their own self-contained society and government. Some public officials were embarrassed by this situation, but as more people began to see what was really going on at the Capitol, public support for the occupiers eroded.

Public education was crippled and schools shut down as teachers skipped class and threatened to go on strike at the protests’ peak. Teachers admitted on camera that they were doing it for themselves at the expense of their students. The statewide closings added to mounting public disapproval of the protesters.

When Act 10 passed, the occupation ended, but the protests continued for next year and a half. The union movement was dealt a deathblow in the summer of 2012 when Governor Walker became the first governor in US history to survive a recall election. Some people, however, couldn’t accept it was all over. Here is a classic MacIver video of one protester’s reaction.

Despite all the turmoil, the steadfastness of Walker and legislators paid off for Wisconsin taxpayers. In 2016, a MacIver Institute study found Act 10 had saved a cumulative $5.24 billion over the previous five years, a number that has surely grown in the years since.

Watch our complete video coverage in chronological order here.