and evidence of the length of BS Liberals will go to continue their power.
By JOHN FUND
Three weeks ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill restricting the power of public-employee unions and increasing what their members pay for health and pension benefits. But the law hasn't yet taken effect—and its opponents have found a judge to issue a highly questionable ruling threatening sanctions against any official who implements it.
It began in February, when 14 Democratic senators left the state in order to avoid giving Republicans the quorum they needed to pass Mr. Walker's bill. After four weeks, Republicans finally passed the bill after amending it so it required a smaller quorum. The Democratic senators returned, but promptly backed a blizzard of lawsuits to block the bill from taking effect.
They found an ally in Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County. She issued a restraining order against publication of the law, arguing that it was likely that plaintiffs would prove it was passed without the required notice in the state's Open Meetings Law. On Thursday, she followed up with an order declaring the law "not in effect."
Legal analysts say it's preposterous for a judge to enjoin publication of a law before it has even taken effect, as citizens don't have standing to challenge a law until they are subject to it.
The case will ultimately be decided by the state Supreme Court. That's why unions and liberal groups are now pouring millions into TV ads to try to oust Justice David Prosser—a member of the court's 4-to-3 conservative majority—in an election next Tuesday.
Victory would mean a seat on the court for JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant state attorney general—and a court with a liberal majority that may well uphold Judge Sumi's decision.
Why are the unions and their liberal allies so desperate to block Mr. Walker's reforms? It's all about the money. Unions can't abide the loss of political clout that will result from ending the state's practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. For most Wisconsin public employees, union dues total between $700 and $1,000 a year, much of which is funneled into political spending to elect the officials who negotiate their contracts.
Union officials recognize what can happen if dues payments become voluntary. Robert Chanin, who was general counsel of the National Education Association from 1968 to 2009, said in a U.S. District Court oral argument in 1978 that "it is well-recognized that if you take away the mechanism of payroll deduction, you won't collect a penny from these people, and it has nothing to do with voluntary or involuntary. I think it has to do with the nature of the beast, and the beasts who are our teachers . . . simply don't come up with the money regardless of the purpose."
Some union supporters recognize the problems with coercive dues payments. Tom Geoghegan, a noted union lawyer, wrote in the Nation magazine last November that it should be "a civil right to join, or not to join, a labor union." He said it was time to "repackage labor law reform, even over the protest of organized labor itself." He noted that workers in countries "like Germany are free not to pay [their dues]—and many don't." Indeed, the U.S. is filled with powerful groups, such as the American Association of Retired Persons, that thrive on voluntary payments because they are seen as providing genuine services to members.
In an interview on Friday, Gov. Walker told me that dues money and union power is "the real issue" in opposition to his reform. "After it became clear we were serious, they couldn't wait to throw their members under the bus by saying they could live with higher contributions for health and pension benefits," he said. "The issue they wouldn't bend on was the power collective bargaining gives them on dues."