Wisconsin union reforms an early success

Thomas Lifson
Wisconsin unions and their Democrat lackeys, who fought union contracting reform noisily and ferociously,  and who predicted doom, now look like knaves.  The reforms already have saved jobs, saved money, and improved education.  Taking work rules and health insurance contracting out of the collective bargaining framework leads to better results.  Byron York in the Washington Examiner looks at one school district in Wisconsin, where

...after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.  (snip)

"The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna's outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" [emphasis added]

Further, changes in work rules are leading to smaller class size, and more one on one tutoring.

"In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

The nation is watching Wisconsin, thanks to the dramatic antics of the left, so the lessons to be learned are important. Labor unions are out to protect inefficient practices. Taxpayers just got a better deal by ignoring their tantrum and reforming the way we contract with the people who used to be known as servants, but for too long have behaved like masters.

Wisconsin unions and their Democrat lackeys, who fought union contracting reform noisily and ferociously,  and who predicted doom, now look like knaves.  The reforms already have saved jobs, saved money, and improved education.  Taking work rules and health insurance contracting out of the collective bargaining framework leads to better results.  Byron York in the Washington Examiner looks at one school district in Wisconsin, where

...after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.  (snip)

"The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna's outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" [emphasis added]

Further, changes in work rules are leading to smaller class size, and more one on one tutoring.

"In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

The nation is watching Wisconsin, thanks to the dramatic antics of the left, so the lessons to be learned are important. Labor unions are out to protect inefficient practices. Taxpayers just got a better deal by ignoring their tantrum and reforming the way we contract with the people who used to be known as servants, but for too long have behaved like masters.