Just days before recall elections, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sent out a news release saying the union reforms he pushed are already saving school districts millions.I actually have to hand it to Walker, he is making progress in cutting wasteful spending and relieving potential tax burden the private sector labor force.
From Madison to Hudson, angry protesters promised dire consequences if Wisconsin lawmakers voted to strip government union members of some of their collective bargaining rights. The reforms did pass and a Madison think tank says they're already having an impact.Public unions should rightly have little bargaining power, as their market is driven by private sector successes. We were warned against allowing public unions decades ago, but socialism sees no limit to it's malignant potential in a free society.
Imagine that. Shifting to private sector markets for services and goods saves significant resources over public alternatives, where accountability is no more than a word and politicians come and go through the revolving door, replaced by another who serves special interest groups rather than the true social good. They were forced to purchase marked-up, low-value insurance and not given choices. This lack of choice is a big problem with unions. Rock out with voluntarism.
"With collective bargaining not an option for teachers outside of salary concerns, we're seeing a lot more freedom for these school boards to find new and creative ways to save money," said Christian D'Andrea of the MacIver Institute. His organization says many school districts are shopping around for health insurance for the first time. In the past, they had to buy it from the Wisconsin Education Assocation, the teachers union.
"The problem there is that, once you become static... and this is true with any company, I'm not just picking on WEA. But once you become static within one company, you tend to settle for higher rates," said D'Andrea.
"It means that we can save teacher jobs and really provide a better value for the taxpayers of the state," said Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. Harsdorf faces a recall election Tuesday because of her support for union reforms and Governor Walker's budget.
In Harsdorf's Senate district, MacIver found savings at Ellsworth, Prescott, Menomonie, Somerset and Hudson school districts. The Hudson Superintendent tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her district stands to save more than $800,000.
"They would have seen that same savings if they'd done it in cooperation with the teachers," said Shelly Moore, a teacher in Ellsworth who is running against Harsdorf in the recall election.This might be one of the few instances of politicians using the power of the state to promote social good and reduce forced coercion (mandatory union dues) on a captive audience (teachers). Usually the state is doing the opposite, reducing individual liberties and choices, while increasing burden.
Local teachers union President Kris Ohman (OH-mun) said before the union reforms, teachers were already agreeing to cheaper insurance options. Under state law, a district could limit an increase in teacher pay and benefits combined could be limited to 3.8%. If health insurance was more expensive, teachers would have to take less pay to offset it.The last thing the public sector needs to be able to do is limit things which the private sector can not. If service costs go up in the private, they must be allowed to do so in the public, for it not the costs through taxation will increase disproportionately affecting private sector workers.
"So it had always been in our best interest to keep those costs down so that our pay could be comparable and competitive with districts around us," said Ohman.
The MacIver Institute says if all districts in Wisconsin reconfigured teacher benefits packages, the state could save $451 million.
Report: Wisconsin Union Changes Saving Schools Millions | KSTP TV - Minneapolis and St. Paul