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Why Walker’s Victory Matters

Congratulations to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker for his victory in yesterday’s recall election. Walker deserves praise for bringing his state’s budget shortfalls under control by limiting compensation and “collective bargaining” power of “public” unions.

Three aspects of Walker’s agenda merit special attention.

First—horror of horrors—Walker and the legislature required government employees to pay for part of their own pensions and health care, as most private-sector workers do.

Second, Walker limited the ability of most “public” unions to pursue collective bargaining for base pay, and he eliminated such bargaining for other perks. (Incidentally, as others have observed, even the progressive’s “progressive” FDR wrote that “the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”)

Third, and “what drove unions bonkers,” writes Shikha Dalmia, “was Walker’s refusal to withhold automatic dues from government employee paychecks and make these dues voluntary.” (Walker unfortunately “exempted cops and firefighter unions from this rule,” Dalmia adds.)

While the left condemns Walker’s reforms as a violation of so-called “union rights,” in fact government employees have no right to gouge taxpayers. Bargaining is a right only in the context of a free market in which parties reach an agreement by means of voluntarily consent—not when government employees “collectively bargain” to unilaterally loot others who never consented. The only actual rights at issue are the rights of Wisconsin residents to be free from coercion and to keep and spend their wealth as they see fit.

That Walker challenged the unions, in Wisconsin of all places, and won—not just once but twice—is a significant victory for everyone fed up with unions looting taxpayers.

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