Heartland Institute Legal Expert Reacts to Layoff Notices at WEAC

Published August 15, 2011

The Wisconsin public school teachers’ union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, announced Monday it has issued layoff notices to about 40 percent of its employees, about 42 individuals. WEAC blamed the layoffs and other unspecified cuts in its budget on “union-busting” by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in his budget bill.

Maureen Martin, senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute and long-time resident of Wisconsin, said the blame is misdirected. All the bill did, Martin says, was bar school districts from automatically deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks, so teachers themselves would have to write a check to pay their dues. The bill also required a vote to recertify union representation.

The following statements by Martin may be used for attribution. For more information, refer to the contact information below.

“According to the Lakeland Times in Minoqua, the union collects about $23 million in dues annually and pays its employees an average annual salary of more than $95,000. The MacIver Institute reports WEAC contributed $874,000 to the recall elections last week. Unions and leftist organizations said those elections would be ‘Armageddon’ to senate Republicans by recalling six state senators. But only two of six were recalled, one in a very close race.

“Until now, teachers have been forced to pay union dues. The layoff notices show the handwriting on the wall – that teachers, given a choice whether or not to pay union dues, won’t pay them. Any organization able to survive only through forced dues payment doesn’t deserve to survive, because its members don’t value the services provided.

“Teachers, who are now free at last, evidently are choosing not to ‘buy’ union membership. It’s amazing what happens in a free market.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.