Taxpayers pay for these higher wages and benefits. And who benefits? The public employees, of course, but also their unions. One of the most contentious features of Walker's proposal is to stop the state from collecting union dues and passing them on to the union. The unions are afraid that if the state doesn't deduct the dues from members' paychecks and turn them over to the union, the members won't pay up. The National Education Association alone will receive $358 million in its share of union dues nationally this school year -- virtually all of it taken automatically out of teachers' paychecks and turned over to the union by their government employer. Big Labor is a multi-billion dollar business.
Walker also wants to give state employees the right to vote on whether they want to be represented by a union -- and if so, which one. But the unions don't like that either. They want workers to have the right to choose union representation, but they seem scared to death that the issue might actually be put to a vote every year. As it stands now, many current workers never had the right to choose whether or not they wanted union representation; the issue was decided years ago by people who may not even be working in the system now.
The AFL-CIO spent more than $100 million last year to defeat Republican candidates. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent another $50 million and the NEA claimed it spent about $40 million, much of that money collected not as voluntary contributions but in mandatory union dues.
Despite their profligate spending, those unions lost the election and now have to face the consequences. It's about time.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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