Starting last week, up to 25,000 peaceful protestors have surrounded the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. It isn’t a matter of what they want, but what they don’t want. Republican Governor, Scott Walker, proposed a bill that many union members are viewing as anti-union. The bill requires state employees to pay a larger share of health care costs and pensions. It also diminishes some of their collective bargaining rights and no longer would require state workers to join unions or pay membership dues.
With Democratic State Senators fleeing Wisconsin to avoid voting on the bill, doctors writing sick notes for teachers to protest, and President Obama calling the bill an “assault on unions,” Madison’s liberal brand and activist reputation are giving the Governor a run for his money. So why are other states watching the clash anxiously?
Wisconsin is not the only state dealing with an extreme budget deficit. With no easy way to fix the problem, they must consider some very tough budget cuts, many of which are opposed by organized labor. Unions across the nation have successfully rallied and won many such battles, such as in Oregon and Arizona last year. However, as seen in New Jersey and New York, governors from both political parties have reached out to business groups to form political action committees to advertise and put out messages to counteract unions. If Governor Walker is also successful, he will be paving the road for many more states to stand up against government employee unions.
These unions get their power by charging dues, these dues are used to run their daily operations and support political campaigns or individuals for elected office. For example, in the 2008 elections, $400 million dollars were given by unions to elect Obama and other Democrats. With Wisconsin threatening to remove unions’ rights to require state workers to join and pay dues, the unions’ relationships with members and political figures will no longer be one offering as much financial reciprocity.
How does this relate to IMC? Government employee unions have large budgets to advertise their political views on bills, candidates, campaigns, etc. They also survive knowing their membership will not diminish and their relationships with members and elected officials will remain productive. However, if Wisconsin approves this bill it has the potential to reduce the financial power and sets up a pattern that could be followed by other states.
To learn more, click here to view a video on the protests:
-Carissa Niederkorn, Tiffany Evans, Deji Adeleke, Anna Kate Babnik, Katie Eagle