MADISON, Wis. – Teachers unions traditionally outspend other interest groups when it comes to lobbying state lawmakers in Madison.
But times have changed dramatically, and the dollar figures prove it.
In the first six months of 2011, for instance, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (the state’s largest teachers union) spent nearly $2.1 million on lobbying efforts in Madison, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In the same period in 2009 it spent about $1 million.
But in the first six months of 2013 WEAC dropped a measly $84,000 on lobbying, and it’s not because it has lost faith in the effectiveness of the practice. It’s because it has lost thousands of members who no longer pay dues.
Some might mourn this turn of events, claiming that teachers no longer have as much political influence in the state capital. But we see it slightly differently.
It’s the union leaders who have lost muscle in the capital, and they never deserved to have that much power to begin with.
For years they were allowed to purchase political influence with money forcibly taken from members’ paychecks. And they used that muscle to promote a left-wing political agenda that many assumed represented the beliefs of most teachers.
But now, thanks to Act 10, teachers and other school employees have a right to drop out of the union and keep their dues money. And they have done so by the thousands. That must mean they don’t necessarily subscribe to the union’s political agenda, and don’t see the need to turn over their hard-earned dollars to have it enacted in Madison.
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