MADISON – Wisconsin’s teachers unions have complained bitterly about the loss of their collective bargaining privileges, but never told the people of Wisconsin how they routinely abused those privileges, to the detriment of local schools and their students.
A new report from EAG, “The Bad Old Days of Collective Bargaining: Why Act 10 Was Necessary for Wisconsin Public Schools,” is designed to tell the rest of the story.
Most Wisconsin public schools have been spending between 70 to 80 percent of their total budgets on labor costs, largely salaries and benefits for union employees.
For many years that was not a noticeable problem. With a good economy and plenty of tax dollars rolling in, the schools could afford to keep their teachers and other employees happy.
Then came the Great Recession and a severe slowdown in tax revenue. School boards, faced with the added pressure of local revenue caps, suddenly found themselves desperate to save as much money as possible to maintain quality student services.
That, of course, led them to look at where they spent the most money – labor costs. Many school boards turned to their local teachers unions for help, asking them to make some moderate concessions to help ease the pain of the financial emergency.
But in district after district, many unions said no. As one school board member put it, “You could talk to the union about it, but the reaction would usually be ‘Sure we understand, but we have a deal. It’s your problem.'”
This short, easy-to-read report is designed to help Wisconsin residents understand why state lawmakers found it necessary to clip the power of the wealthy, influential teachers unions through the adoption of Act 10.
EAG Founder Kyle Olson appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to discuss the report.