In Wisconsin, a Rebuke to Union Wrath

Alberta Darling (R) speaks to press after holding her seat in the most targeted WI Senate race.

I was on my computer late last night and so had a chance to witness the failure of a months-long effort by unions and Democrat groups to take back the Wisconsin Senate after it helped Governor Scott Walker introduce pension reforms for public sector union employees.

Because I was actively tweeting my reactions to a very heated topic, not surprisingly, I caught some flack from people who disagreed with my hope that Republicans would retain their majority in the Senate.

What surprised me about the critiques I saw leveled at me was how many would claim “the pope is pro-union” (typically followed by an expletive describing their distaste for my anti-union sentiments). They were most offended, in other words, that I as a Catholic was not cheering for the Democrat/Union team.

Get real. I believe it’s totally Catholic to be anti-union in the particular circumstances of the Wisconsin recall elections. Here’s why.

It’s one thing to be pro-union if that means supporting the rights of workers to band together to achieve a fair wage and humane work conditions. It’s another thing when unions band together to preserve unfair perks and benefits which are directly destabilizing and threatening the public finances of a state (which is what was happening in Wisconsin, and also describes accurately what is happening in many other states across the country).

When public sector unions and national Democrat political groups far outspend local Republicans fighting for reelection, it’s very clear they aren’t fighting on behalf of the weaker, underprivileged minority. The forces behind these efforts to recall the Republican senators were not the underdog, they were big money. Organized labor big money.

And they lost. And that’s a good thing for American society. Because there’s nothing in the solidarity movement or the Church’s traditional support for employee organizing that says these groups have an absolute right to put their own interests ahead of the common good of a state or country.

Democracy is a virtue here, because last night’s victory was one achieved by ordinary folks in Wisconsin who took time out of their day to go to the polling booth, having listen to both sides of the argument, thought about it, and took the initiative to act for the best interests of their state, and their children.

As pundits on NRO’s The Corner have mentioned, last night’s defeat and rebuke of the unions in Wisconsin has national consequences. It says there is hope for newly-elected officials who promise to reform the excesses of government (and especially the excess of government pay-out to public-sector union employees) and proceed to fulfill that promise, that they will be reelected to continue to serve another day. It says there’s a future in fulfilling their promise to act in the best interests of all the people they represent, not just the people who pay union dues and work in and for government.

It’s also a victory for the people of Wisconsin. If you look at the indicators coming out of the Badger State, things are looking good there: more people are getting back to work and enjoying the fruits of their labors through less government regulation and debt.

In other words, more worker rights are being secured for more people in Wisconsin — because more Wisconsins now have a chance to actually get a job. Shouldn’t the unions be happy about that?

I know I am.



  • Matthew McSorley

    Wow! I got 11 “dislikes” … I must be doing something right.

    So-called “right-to-work” (more aptly called “right to work for less”) legislation targets all unions, public and private sector, by allowing workers to opt out of membership while still forcing the union to negotiate on behalf of non-paying employees. You can look it up — workers in union-friendly states earn on average more to 10 percent more than those in right-to-work-for-less states. There’s a reason big business lobbies are so anxious to get such legislation passed — so they can start cutting worker compensation.

    As for legislation that more directly curbs the right to bargain, it is true that none has been submitted yet. But I would point to the argument, made decades ago, that freer access to birth control would lead to increased demand for legalized abortion. Indeed we saw this was the case. It’s called incrementalism. Should attempts to curb public sector bargaining rights succeed, I would expect attempts to do the same in the private sector to be close behind. The fact that Rep. Darrell Issa and other Republicans have sought to defund or even eliminate the National Labor Relations Board shows us that attempts to erode the rights of workers are well under way.

    Thank you, Thomas, for your time and thoughts.

  • Ruth

    Deception is the best description on both sides. Noteworthy, during these recall elections did you hear the democratics even mention ‘ collective bargaining’. The Republican goal was to simply bust the unions as was stated in an earlier comment. The unions had agreed to ALL the concessions before the ‘collective bargaining vote’. This is a true fact – pure deception to the public. Unions – are out of touch and need to reidentify themselves in todays world not to mention their disgusting pro-abortion antics. We need the balance. We have greed on both ends and this is the cause of our country’s strife. Without unions we can easily see the corporate world regress to what was. The Catchecism clearly identifies that unions are not supposed to be involved in politics. I find some catholics ‘muddy these waters’ to what is truly moral social issues. Let us keep our focus on ‘heaven’ and pray for our catholic democrat politicians. Yes, there are good ones out there and they have a very difficult job. Unfortunately, they are not newsworthy. Happen to notice I don’t like either party?

  • Ratskii

    Something that I’ve noticed about the comments is the general lack of knowledge expressed by many of the commentators. The Public Service Union had already conceded most of what governor Walker wanted at the bargaining table. He went after them for political reasons rather than for the practical reason of saving money. Also, the Wisconsin constitution which allows the recalls sets a minimum time that the elected official must be in office before they can be recalled. The recalls this year were set in 5 republican dominated districts and one swing district. The democrats won the swing and one of the solid republican districts. One other thing that will probably worry Walker is that he only won the vote on taking away bargaining rights from public unions by two votes. One republican voted against the bill.

  • Janet

    Pro-union(socialist/communist ties), Democrat(pro-abortion at any cost) “Catholics” need to wake up from the past (very past) and educate yourselves on the agendas and associations of today’s union bosses and their bought and paid for political leaders. Unions were necessary early in our industrial history but now are nothing more than a money source for crooked politicians(at the union members expense). Unions ARE the cause of so many of our manufacturing industries leaving the USA…they have demanded too much, become too greedy….

    10 Reasons To Reject Socialism

  • Joe M

    Thank you for the article. Very well put.



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