As voters in Wisconsin were going to the polls yesterday to defend Gov. Walker's reforms, our colleagues over at State Budget Solutions (statebudgetsolutions.org) released a new report on collective bargaining reform that offers a useful primer on the subject.
The report starts with three lessons learned from Wisconsin's recent experience:
1. The power of the government-sector unions and their impact on elections is greatly overestimated. With a victory for Gov. Walker, Wisconsin Government employee union will have suffered their fifth major defeat since March 2011.
2. When given a choice, government employees will quit their union in large numbers.
3. Government employees' salaries and benefits, particularly pensions, are financially unsustainable in most states and collective bargaining reform is needed.
Report author Bob Williams—a former Washington State legislator and Government Accountability Office auditor—then goes on to outline the problems with public-sector collective bargaining, offer a series of collective bargaining reform options, and provide interesting background information on the history of collective bargaining at the federal level.
One interesting nugget from the report: collective bargaining reform is not a partisan issue, as defenders of the unsustainable public sector status quo would have you believe. We're simply seeing hung-over politicians of all stripes waking up from a decades-long drunken spending stupor and facing the harsh reality of basic mathematics.
Collective bargaining curbs reform spread across the country in the past two years - 820 bills were introduced this year on collective bargaining according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The left is concerned about the 11 states with Democrat Governors who pushed for labor concessions. Democrat Governors in California; Connecticut; Hawaii; Illinois; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Hampshire New York; Oregon; and Washington pushed for collective bargaining reform.
Read the whole thing here.