This has been one of the worst weeks in years for union power in America. Governor Scott Walker’s convincing victory has been the big story of the week, but voters in San Diego and San Jose also passed measures to curb the power and benefits of public sector unions. The non-stop demonstrations and millions of dollars spent to oust Walker have come to naught, leaving unions to face the fact that voters simply aren’t convinced by their arguments anymore.Increasingly, their own ranks aren’t sold on their arguments either. Now that union dues are no longer mandatory, many public-sector workers in Wisconsin are opting to hold on to their money. And beyond Wisconsin, the Wall Street Journal reports, union membership across the country has fallen dramatically:
AFSCME saw membership drops in other states that are politically important and tend to be labor-friendly. In the 12 months ended in February, Ohio’s membership fell 8.5%, Pennsylvania’s dropped 3.4% and Michigan’s declined 11.7%. In California, membership rose 2%.
It’s important to remember that the unions’ fall is a good governance issue, not a partisan one. Walker may be a Republican, but Wisconsin has tended to vote liberal. San Diego’s measure passed with 66 percent of the vote, despite the city’s Democratic majority. What this week has shown is that, forced to choose between outsized union benefits and basic services, voters will pick the latter.We are likely now to see cities and states all over the country take on excessively generous union contracts; Democrats will offer a “kinder and gentler” form of cutbacks, but from both parties the public sector unions will now hear the same message: “Less.”