Is it good policy? Perhaps Act 10 was an overreach with its union-busting provisions, but it addressed a fiscal need in Wisconsin and the school districts and municipalities that receive state aid.
Public employee benefits had become overly generous and burdensome on employers, and Act 10 addressed that by requiring employees to contribute their fair shares. The result has saved the state and local governments millions of dollars. Those savings have helped those local governments address state aid cuts and ongoing budget challenges.
Now that the legal questions surrounding Act 10 are resolved, let’s move forward with a clear understanding that the law is here to stay and that public employers and employees still must work together to ensure that quality workers continue to provide quality services.
With freedom comes responsibility.
This is one of the important lessons most parents hope their children learn, especially teenagers. OK, you got a driver’s license. You’re hot about all the things you can do. But there are an awful lot of things you shouldn’t do, and won’t do if you’re smart.
So what will teens learn from school leaders all across Wisconsin in the next few years? I’m hoping they’ll learn that with freedom comes responsibility, and I’m even somewhat optimistic that, overall, they will. That won’t be universally true. There are always the kids who just can’t resist flooring it when the light turns green.
But in most school districts, the freedom school boards and administrators were given in 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislative majorities won the battle of Act 10, has been used with restraint and good judgment. A lot of superintendents and principals, and even teachers, are seeing pluses to life without the many provisions of union contracts.
I don’t want to overstate that — there are also a large number of teachers still feeling wounded from the hostility toward educators that was amped up by the polarizing events of 2011. Many teachers are anxious about how the greater freedoms their bosses now have to judge, punish and reward will be used. There also remain serious reasons to worry about who is leaving teaching and whether the best possible newcomers are being attracted to classrooms.
More mystifying is why The Capital Times would do a story focusing solely and entirely on that minority dissent. (“Act 10 is ‘textbook’ example of unconstitutionality.”) Can’t expose its tender readers to the majority opinion, apparently.
Local government here in the Emerald City has done its best to evade the law, extending union contracts into 2016. County Exec Joe Parisi likes to say the union has saved the county money. At the very least, AFSME costs its members dues. There is nothing to prevent county managers from working cooperatively with employees to determine best practices. That is Management 101.
Ditto the teachers union, plaintiff in the just-decided Supreme Court case. The teachers union — as we argued in “Hold your meetings where there is beer” — runs the County Board. Now Mary Burke’s complicity with succoring MTI — she’s got their endorsement — becomes the lead issue in the governor’s race.
If you are a Madison public school teacher who doesn’t want to make fair share payments, let me know. We’ll bring suit. Post a private message on Facebook.
Much more on Act 10, here.