Election Day Turnaround for Unions

Election Day Turnaround for Unions

Less than two years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced plans to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights as a means of shoring up the state budget, touching off a wave of efforts across the country aimed at curbing union power. Unions have lost most of those battles and even failed earlier this year to recall Walker from office, although they did manage to recall a Republican member of Wisconsin's Senate on the same day and temporarily claim majority control of that chamber. But last month's elections marked a somewhat more definitive turnaround for labor. 
 
Union support helped Democrats take control of the state legislatures in Maine and Minnesota. In Michigan, unions succeeded in repealing a law allowing financially troubled cities to suspend collective bargaining contracts. And in California, they defeated a ballot measure (Proposition 32) that would have barred them from using union dues collected through payroll deductions for political purposes. They also achieved their top Election Day goal: re-electing President Obama. 
 
"The unions must be fairly happy with themselves," said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. "These are positive signs, particularly saving their political life in California." 
 
The Election Day news wasn't all positive for unions, however. In Michigan, they lost a first-ever ballot effort to make collective bargaining a constitutional right (Proposal 12-2), which some members of that state's Republican controlled Legislature say could actually lead to passage of right-to-work legislation unions were hoping to avoid with the measure. 
 
Labor also paid a hefty price for its election victories. Unions and other Democratic interests reportedly poured over $75 million into the campaign to defeat California's Prop. 32. And union losses didn't come cheap either. One union-supported group spent upwards of $6 billion on TV ads supporting Michigan's Proposal 12-2. (WASHINGTON TIMES, STATE NET) 

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