I do not like unions. Since I have been old enough to understand basic economics I have not liked unions.
Yes, unions started out as a brilliant idea, fighting the abusive practices of greedy corporate employers who squeezed blood out of employees who had no voice. Unions helped elect legislators who changed the laws to protect the safety and jobs of employees and guarantee a fair wage.
But that was 70 years ago. This is now.
Now, many thanks to the UAW, Garment Workers' unions, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, etc., we have OSHA and all the work safety laws we need. Companies have long ago realized the advantages of a healthy work force and promote "zero accidents" policies, and offer membership in group rate health insurance and retirement plans.
What unions do now is collect dues which fund their leaders' lavish CEO-like lifestyles. The legislators which used to be bought only by the rich corporations are now up for bid to the unions as well. And the unions have the money to buy them.
Rachael Madow on MSNBC has been crowing about how Wisconsin gave us the 5-day work week and the 8-hour day and a whole raft of other union-driven goodies. No, not really. Those mostly came from next door in Michigan, Detroit to be specific, thanks to Walter Reuther and the United Auto Workers in the 1930s-40s. Some of that also was a result of actions in New York City by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union as early as 1909. And the amusing fact that while most of the workers and corporate executives celebrate Sabbath on Sunday, the early union negotiators celebrated it on Saturday. Had there been Muslim union officials back then, we may have had a 4-day work week.
I promised zanda_myrande some research and links to facts. Here they are:
From the US government's 2010 census http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/55/5548000.html
The per capita annual income for Wisconsin in 1999 was $21,271. In Madison it was $23,498. This is not counting benefits
The census does not show breakdowns by employment, so I went to http://teacherportal.com/salary/Wisconsin-teacher-salary to find:
The average annual salary for Wisconsin teachers in 2010 was $46,390. Again, that does not count benefits. More than twice the state average.
The following data comes from the Wisconsin's Governor's office, http://www.transition.wi.gov/journal_media_detail_print.asp?prid=5625&locid=177, and heavily relies on sources which I have not been able to find online, such as State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11, which I suppose is an internal memo from the SBO to the Governor:
In 2011, state employees paid $64 million toward their health insurance, or about 5.6% of the total cost. (ETF Health Care Analysis).
Survey data finds that private employer HMO plans in Wisconsin typically require a co-pay of $18 per office visit, $45 per specialist visit, $75 per emergency room visit, or $175 in-patient treatment. The average health insurance premium for these plans averaged $108 per month for single coverage and $261 for family. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
Wisconsin taxpayers currently make nearly a 100% payment for the employee portion of the public sector pension contribution. Illinois and Indiana taxpayers contribute the entire employee portion as well, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio pay 0% of the employee contribution. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11).
IMHO, regardless of the depth, or lack thereof, of Wisconsin's state budget debt, it's reasonable to require their state employees to pay 12% of their health care premiums and 5% of their pension contribution. I personally pay between 33% and 100% of my health care premiums, plus co-pays, plus certain deductibles, and 100% of my retirement contribution. But then, I don't belong to a union, and never have.