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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Not a Good Week For Unions...

U.S., Wisconsin, Political, Education, Healthcare, People Making A Difference

This has not been the best of weeks for organized labor either on the local scene or on the national scene.

Labor leaders meeting at the White House were dealt an unexpected blow as they were denied relief from ObamaCare for their multi-employer health plans.  This was quite a slap-in-the-face for the AFL-CIO union groups since they were strong backers of the President and thought he was a strong backer of theirs.  The fear of labor leaders is that employers that are involved with these multi-employer plans will simply tell their workers to go to the nearest state ObamaCare exchange and enroll in the plan of their choice.  That would effectively knock down the multi-employer plan approach and would severely damage the unions’ ability to retain members.  That would also cause attrition in membership for some of those unions.

This dose of reality seems tied to the fact that President Obama will not be running for a third term and that he has his hands full trying to make his signature health plan workable.  It makes the labor leaders’ jobs a lot tougher since their membership is diminishing and those who remain are angrier and angrier that they haven’t the political clout they thought they were entitled to after being very active contributors to and supporters of the Democratic Party and this President.  This isn’t to say that somehow this White House won’t find a magical solution to the issues raised, but it didn’t throw its weight behind even as little as promising to review the situation.  There was also grumbling about the Cadillac plan 40% penalty excise tax coming in 2018.

On the more local scene, the Kenosha school district teachers’ bargaining unit failed to attract the minimum 51% of its members’ votes as required under Act 10.  Only some 37% voted in favor of retaining the union.  This means that dues will now be collected on a voluntary basis since payroll deduction is no longer an option.  The Wisconsin Education Association Council’s spokesperson kept a brave face, but that was for show only since WEAC has been significantly downsized given similar occurrences across the state.  WEAC claims that the union really still exists, even if unofficially, but even WEAC has to understand its plight.

Underlying these disappointments is another issue.  The unions have typically been ardent supporters of democrat candidates and the Democratic Party.  These unions employed the dues they received from their membership to attempt to sway voters.  The bank accounts are much smaller than they were and that has to lead to diminished financial support.  I suspect, although it remains to be seen, that the support of individuals (former union members) who were more susceptible to union leaderships’ urgings may be dwindling, as well.

I had heard from members of teachers’ unions before the advent of Act 10 that there typically was a group comprised of about 15% of the total membership that was avid in its support of the union, and that these groups were good at ‘rallying’ other members who feared they’d be on the wrong list if they didn’t attend meetings and vote favoring the union position whenever called upon to do so.  These votes, such as in Kenosha, seem to be suggesting this was and is true and that, given a real choice, these fringe members are voting their conscience without fear of retribution.

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