Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward to: "Follow the money" in his Watergate investigation. Good advice and appropriate in examining the current deadlock in Madison. It is money that drives the union position and with money comes power and with power, unions can dominate the political scene and achieve whatever goals they set. The unions have been following a brilliant strategy to oppose Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, namely accept the financial conditions but oppose any modification of collective bargaining conditions.
The collective bargaining definition is the negotiation between employers and any group of employees, normally represented by a union, to determine conditions of employment. That definition was established by law in 1935 for the private sector but not the public sector. Public sector collective bargaining has never been established by law, but has been accepted by various units of government from local to state. It has never been adopted at the federal level.
The union strategy in Wisconsin is to raise collective bargaining for public employees to a human right, up there with the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights –freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. Surprisingly the most educated public employees, union, teachers, fell for this ploy, hook, line and sinker. Not surprisingly, a great many of us, the great unwashed Wisconsin citizenry, fell into lockstep believing,as well, that collective bargaining was probably in those first 10 constitutional amendments somewhere.
If the truth be known, collective bargaining is just the union's stalking horse to create the deadlock in Madison. What really frightens union leadership is the loss of the annual union dues ($400-1000) deducted by the state from a state worker’s paycheck and paid directly into the union treasury. State taxpayers, through sales, income and other fees, provide the funds for all state payrolls. Concomitantly, the automatic deduction of union dues from every unionized state worker, provides a tie-in link between the individual taxpayer and the funding of union operations. The Budget Repair Bill breaks that link and would require union members to pay their dues directly into the union depository.
Now consider what happens then to this extracted taxpayer money paid directly into a union’s larder. A great portion of union dues is allocated to political campaigns to elect Democrat State Senators, who are very friendly to union positions. After they are elected, they sit on one side of the bargaining table with the union on the other. In effect, the union is bargaining with itself -- with Wisconsin taxpayers financing the entire charade.
The Walker Budget Repair Bill eliminates the direct state payment of union employee dues to a union till. This results in union members having to pay their dues directly to the union. There is a great psychological difference in having a chunk of your compensation removed before you see it and having to write a check regularly to the union coffers. What frightens union bosses in their boots is that many union members may choose to retain the dues money, dropping out of the union. Surely there are many union members who disagree with the union's political position, which appears to primarily support Democrats. Combine this disagreement with retaining an extra amount of one’s compensation and a major exodus could occur.
With a major exodus of union members, there goes the due’s money and there goes the power that money buys. That's what really strikes terror into union leaders and drives the Democrat State Senators hard line position, They were elected with major union money support which derived from dues, derived from the state budget and, as we note, all derives from state taxes which originated with state taxpayers.
"Following the money" concludes that all state taxpayers finance public union political activity with the state as a co-conspirator by agreeing to deduct union dues from state union employees, whether they agree or not. Removing the state from the picture, al least provides some semblance that union dues are paid voluntarily by members who support union goals.
Wisconsin voters would be well served in understanding this picture and supporting Governor Walker. With the Budget Repair Bill passed, the increased deductions for pensions and medical premiums, already agreed to, will go into effect, as well the state’s dismissal from paying union dues. If, in the next two years, unions can show substantial unfairness, Democrat’s with union money backing can convince voters to return them to the majority in the State Senate and Assembly. That’s the American way, resolve disagreements at the polls - not by Democrat state senators fleeing to Illinois and mob action at our state capitol.