NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wisconsin Teachers Leaving Unions in Droves

October 22, 2014

In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill known as Act 10. The bill made union membership optional, resulting in a major change in union enrollment in the state.

Perry Chiaramonte Fox News reports that Act 10, also known as the Budget Repair Bill, has changed the union landscape in Wisconsin:

  • For the last three years, public employees have been able to opt out of union membership (and the corresponding requirement to pay dues).
  • The bill requires unions to have a "recertification drive" each year in order to gauge the support of its members.
  • Public sector employers cannot automatically collect union dues on behalf of unions.

What's happened? Union membership has fallen in the teaching sector. The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) had almost 100,000 teacher members in June 2011; today, that figure has fallen by one-third. And AFT-Wisconsin, a smaller teacher's union, has seen its 16,000-member peak cut in half. Teachers told Fox News why they left:

  • Teacher Amy Rosno said, "As soon as I was given the choice, I left." After attending her first WEAC meeting as a representative, she said, "I realized that it was all political and not about teaching."
  • Many teachers were concerned that their dues were being spent on political causes. Michelle Uetz, a special education teacher, said, "We shouldn't be pigeon-holed into contributing to politics we don't believe in."

Many of those who have left the unions have joined non-union trade groups, including the Association of American Educators.

Source: Perry Chiaramonte, "Union enrollment plummets for Wisconsin teachers under tough law,", October 19, 2014. 


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