Wisconsin union members rally at the state capitolRepublicans have been gunning for labor unions since forever. Beholden to an anti-organized labor corporatocracy that, for all intents and purposes, has become a shadow government and arguably is more powerful than the real government, union busting has been an unwritten part of the Republican agenda to gut the middle class but is now on full view in Wisconsin.
While ostensibly an effort to balance the state budget, Governor Scott Walker, a conservative Republican, has ignored public employee and teachers unions' willingness to make wage concessions, so the standoff over taking away their collective bargaining rights is really about power, in this case exploiting the budget deficit for political gain.
As well as scratching the backs of the notorious Koch brothers, who not coincidentally were the largest contributors to Walker's gubernatorial campaign and for whom unions are anathema because without them these unscrupulous billionaires could make even more money.
Unions have been in decline in recent decades in part because of overreaching and other self-inflicted wounds, although a substantial number of Americans support their right to collective bargaining. Yes, public employee unions can be an excuse for protecting lazy and incompetent workers, something that too often is on display at state motor vehicle and drivers licensing centers. Same for teachers' unions. But Wisconsin should be a sobering lesson for anyone who values quality public education but wants to bust teachers unions.
Consider that only five states do not have collective bargaining for teachers. Those states' rankings on ACT/SAT scores are:South Carolina -- 50thGot that? Meanwhile, the states with the highest ACT/SAT rankings all allow collective bargaining:
North Carolina -- 49th
Georgia -- 48th
Virginia -- 44thIowa -- 1stStatistics can lie, but these are unambiguous. States that allow teachers to bargain produce better students, and by inference better teachers.
Minnesota and Wisconsin -- 2nd
Kansas -- 4th
Nebraska -- 5th
Does anyone really believe that Wisconsin's historically fine public school system will not suffer if its teachers are stripped of key aspects of collective bargaining?
Of course not.Photograph by The Associated Press