Big Labor Milwaukee Mayor Admits Monopolistic Public-Safety Unionism Harmful to Taxpayers


Tom Barrett’s call to expand Act 10 offensive

In 2012, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was vowing that, if he ousted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in that year’s Big Labor-engineered “recall” election, he would push for repeal of Act 10. Now Barrett is actually calling for Act 10’s expansion! Image: Mark Felix/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In the spring of 2012, Big Labor bosses in the Badger State rallied behind union-label Democrat Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, who was then challenging GOP Gov. Scott Walker in a special “recall” election.  Union officials had instigated the recall as a means of punishing Walker and a number of his legislative allies for pushing through in early 2011 the budget- and labor-policy reform package known as Act 10.

During his unsuccessful campaign against Walker last year, Barrett repeatedly vowed that if elected he would seek repeal of Act 10, key provisions of which protect most state and local public servants from being forced to pay union dues or fees as a job condition and sharply narrow the scope of government union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining powers.

Barrett went down to a resounding defeat in large part because Badger State citizens have seen through Big Labor’s anti-Act 10 propaganda and recognized that the law is fair and just.  A substantial majority of Wisconsinites are happy with the law that says public servants shouldn’t be fired for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union, and glad that Act 10’s restrictions on union monopoly bargaining in government have helped public-sector executives manage their employees more effectively and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Surprisingly, Barrett himself now seems to agree Act 10 is a valuable reform.  Indeed, in recent weeks the Milwaukee mayor has publicly suggested that not only should this statute stay in place; its provisions should be applied to public-safety employees who have  been exempt from Act 10 up to now.  (See the link above for one police union boss’s reaction to Barrett’s new stance.)

Barrett’s current rhetoric blames Walker and his GOP legislative allies for leaving most police and firefighters out of Act 10.  The governor claims that he did this out of fear that, if public-safety employees had been included, public-safety union bosses would have retaliated by calling illegal public-sector strikes.  Barrett claims it was politics.

Regardless of the reason for Act 10’s current exemptions, it is a positive development for Wisconsin that one of the most prominent enemies of the statute now agrees with supporters that its provisions are good for taxpayers.  Walker and GOP legislators should ignore Barrett’s barbs, graciously acknowledge his new-found support for rolling back monopoly unionism in the public sector, and accept his help in a legislative drive next year to expand Act 10.