Following Wisconsin’s enactment of legislation that removes the automatic check off of union dues and requires them to be voluntary on the part of unionized employees, large percentages of members have chosen not to pay the dues and have been removed from union membership rolls. According to the Wall Street Journal, membership in AFSCME, the state’s second largest public sector union, has dropped from over 60,000 in March 2011 to just over 28,000 currently.
Clearly, union members who were so demonstrative in their attacks on Governor Walker and the Republican members of the Legislature for enacting the removal of forced union dues are quite comfortable in not paying those dues.
Besides the removal of forced dues deduction from paychecks, Act 10 also requires that each bargaining unit hold a vote to retain the union as their bargaining unit. In addition, the right to strike has been taken away. Taken together these changes have stripped the unions of the ability to hold taxpayers hostage and as a result have made union membership far less economically beneficial to the employees.
Wisconsin has shown the other traditional heavily unionized states that the people and the taxpayers can stand up to the power of public unions. When will Pennsylvania politicians join this brave movement and emulate their brethren in Wisconsin and Indiana who are leading the way in restoring sanity to the balance of labor negotiating power and returning freedom to labor markets?
We have pointed on many occasions how Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that give teachers the right to strike if collective bargaining does not produce a contract. Teacher strikes are often high profile and garner a lot of media attention.
Striking teachers in the Penn Hills school district offered to return to work a day earlier than required by the state. The district has accepted the offer. Mr. Santicola-the spokesman for the state teacher union association and the Penn Hills teachers-in a statement on the issue said, "it’s a gesture to all parties that we want this thing resolved".
Why would the teachers make such a gesture? It would seem fairly obvious. They were heavy losers in the public relations battle. In the current economic environment and given the utter weakness of their case, that was to be expected. Yet they called a strike anyway.
The real reason for the strike? The union leaders wanted to create as much aggravation for the Board as possible and remind taxpayers of the power teachers wield by having the right to strike. In this case, the small number of days they could be out curtailed their ability to have frustrated parents and propagandized students go to bat for them at Board meetings. All in all a very poor strategy. All they have done is reveal the depth of their disdain for taxpayers and students. But they have also added one more reason for Pennsylvania to end the ridiculous policy of allowing teachers to walk out with no loss of pay.
Wonder if the voters in Pennsylvania will ever see the light and demand an end to teacher strikes? In the end, it is they who must force the issue. Their elected officials are too afraid to do it.