As part of an email exchange I had this with Republican State Senate candidate Pam Stevens, who’s challenging incumbent Democratic State Sen. Bob Wirch in the 22nd Senate district, I had an opportunity to ask Stevens if she supported the provisions of Wisconsin Act 10, the so-called “budget repair” bill that actually served to eliminate virtually all collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Stevens’ response as to whether she supported the provisions of Act 10 was an unambiguous “Yes.”
As for Act 10, yes I do support it and I will tell you why. Growing up my Mom who was a union teamster steward all my life up until the time of her death in 2005, always stressed the importance of unions and what they have to offer, but she also taught me that it was more important for working people to be working rather than just certain sections of a group getting a raise and more expensive benefits during hard times. Act 10 provides the School Districts with the ability to do more with less. Instead of having to lay off 300 public employees, if you save on compensation and benefits you may be able to save 100 of those jobs. Also, Zach we have a lot of labor laws that protects individuals with labor issues. Most of these labor laws are actually stricter in some cases than the collective bargaining laws. I believe that if an organization has to lay people off, it shouldn’t be based on longevity/seniority it should be based on the individuals. I would hate to have work my fingers to the bone at a job and when the time came for layoffs the person that hardly did anything gets to stay because he/she was there longer, it just doesn’t seem fair to me.
The Act 10 bill does not make it more difficult to organize as union members. People still get to organize any way they want to under Act 10, the only difference with that piece is the public employees now have a choice if they want to be in a union, so it does away with taxation without representation, because they are forced to pay dues when they do not want to. If the union leadership is right when they say that most public employees want to pay union dues then they have nothing to worry about because the public employees will still pay their dues. If this type of bill is OK with the Federal public employee why is it not OK for the State public employee.
It’s worth noting that despite Stevens’ assertions that Act 10 does not make it more difficult to organize as union members, the opposite is actually true.
The provisions of Act 10 mandate that any public employee union that wants to re-certify as a union must get 50% +1 votes to re-certify from ALL union members (regardless of whether all union members actually voted), as opposed to the previous standard of 50% +1 of all VOTING members. That’s a higher standard than we expect our elected officials to garner in their elections, and it most certainly makes it harder for unions to re-certify as opposed to prior to Act 10.
Stevens’ support of Act 10 runs in stark contrast to Sen. Wirch, one of the famed “Wisconsin 14″ who left Wisconsin in an attempt to stop Gov. Walker’s rubber-stamp Republican Senate majority from pushing through Act 10 with little or no debate. As a result of his support for collective bargaining rights for public employees, Sen. Wirch faced a recall challenge from Illinois attorney Jonathan Steitz, who was ultimately crushed by Sen. Wirch by a margin of 58% to 42%.