It's tough to be a union man in the U.S. these days. As unionized private-sector jobs continue to disappear, the burden of paying for the seemingly lavish benefits of public employees has fallen on a shrinking base of disgruntled taxpayers.
That’s why Wisconsin and several other cash-strapped states are in the midst of turmoil as their Republican governors attempt to rein in spending by checking the growth in public employees' benefits.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget bill, for instance, would make civil servants – excluding local police, state troopers and firefighters – pay substantially more for pensions and benefits, and would, since it hopes to subject salary increases for government workers to a state-wide referendum, likely cripple public service unions as a force in both collective bargaining and politics.
Under the bill, state agencies would also no longer deduct union dues from workers’ paycheques, forcing unions to collect them on their own. And the legislation would also require unions to hold recertification votes annually.