In the report “Attacks on Public-Sector Unions Harm States,” the Center for American Progress details the impact of “Act 10,” a law that gutted public sector unions in Wisconsin. After a dramatic weakening of collective bargaining, the wages and benefits of teachers and Wisconsin’s educational system have been compromised.
The Supreme Court is expected in 2018 to decide Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. While supporters of “right-to-work” and efforts to limit public sector unions have often claimed these laws benefit working people, findings from Wisconsin are troubling. Action by the Supreme Court could soon bring “right-to-work” for public sector workers nationwide.
Specifically, in the short time since anti-union measures were passed in Wisconsin, the report found:
• In just the first year of the law, compensation for Wisconsin teachers fell by 8.2%, benefits for Wisconsin teachers were cut by 18.6%, and the median salary for Wisconsin teachers was reduced by 2.6%. Within 4 years, median compensation fell by $10,843 or 12.6%.
• The number of teachers leaving the profession has reached an all-time high. As a result, many experienced teachers have been replaced by new teachers with “less than five years of experience.”
• Teachers are not only retiring but moving school districts more frequently. With the loss of a “voice on the job,” turnover has increased, which is detrimental to academic achievement.
Leaders in Wisconsin told the people of their state that restricting unions would be beneficial but the report concludes that “this theory was misguided.” The results can be seen across the public sector – services in Wisconsin have been impacted by high turnover and service quality has declined. This study and others show that attacks on unions and collective bargaining harm not only pay and benefits for union members but all people across our society.