Labor-Management Dynamic Shifts in Wisconsin Schools, Taxpayers Reap Rewards

“What about the children?” they cried as tens of thousands filled the Wisconsin Capitol Square this spring.

The huge rallies filled with school-skipping teachers have come and gone and now a just-released MacIver Institute analysis of newly negotiated school contracts from this year shows that the leverage provided by Wisconsin Act 10 and the the new law’s ultimate passage has indeed given school districts the ability to find significant savings without firing teachers and without impacting class sizes or course offerings.

Requiring teachers to make modest contributions to health and pension benefits can cut the cost of education by $500 per student in Wisconsin.

Our analysis shows that the recent changes to state law has empowered school districts to secure better deals for their taxpayers. Without impacting class size or course offerings, and without massive layoffs, school districts have already saved $155 million here. thanks to modest concessions from the labor force.

A preliminary estimate based on an analysis of local reports conducted by the MacIver Institute suggests that, if adopted uniformly by every district in Wisconsin, local schools would stand to save $434,232,693.66 through new staff contracts that required the additional contributions to health and retirement benefits.


  • Already, the nearly 100 districts with new contracts are in line to save more than $150 million
  • Statewide, more than $400 billion can be saved if teachers pay the roughly 6 and 12 percent contributions toward their retirement and health benefits
  • This averages out to nearly $500 per student in savings, a reduction that does not impact class size or course offerings

This analysis includes many contracts with concessions made during the legislative debate on the reforms (and before the new law’s passage) but without a doubt these savings would never had been reached had Governor Walker not dramatically changed the landscape in Wisconsin with his reform proposals. The proposal incentivized teachers to make concessions at the bargaining table in a rush to beat the clock and come to an agreement before the new law changed the way union dues were collected.

Since the bill became law, other districts have taken full advantage of the new tools Governor Walker and the legislature gave them. The preliminary results are stunning.

Moreover, this is likely only the beginning. As more and more of the 425 local contracts come up for negotiation and government benefits in Wisconsin are finally brought in line with the private sector, the savings for taxpayers will continue to mount.

See the full report, here.

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