By Kyle Olson
CHICAGO – The Detroit News recently reported that union membership has declined five-tenths of a percentage point – 11.8 to 11.3 – in the workforce.
“Total union membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million. Teachers unions were among the hardest hit, with the ranks of public school teachers and educators falling sharply,” it noted.
The thinning union ranks are blamed to state budget cuts which have resulted job losses for teachers and other public sector employees.
The AP report did not mention that some teachers are choosing to walk away from their union. But that’s exactly what’s happening in Wisconsin.
Thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 collective bargaining reform law, public employees now have the choice of whether or not to join their local union. Wisconsin’s largest teachers’ union has publicly estimated it lost about 30 percent of its members as a result of the reform law.
An Associated Press report about the union membership drop has NBC Chicago singing the blues.
“Look out, Chicago Teachers Union,” wrote NBC Chicago’s Edward McClelland. “You had a big year in 2012, with a seven-day strike that won you a raise and more job security. But in the war on unions, you’re the next target.”
What? Giving workers a choice about whether to join a labor group equals on “war on unions”?
Nobody should be shedding tears for CTU members. During their strike last fall, it was widely reported that the average Chicago teacher earns much more than the average private sector worker.
If CTU leaders are genuinely concerned about preserving teacher jobs, they could ask their members to forego an automatic pay raise or two in exchange for a freeze on any potential layoffs.
But job preservation isn’t their goal. They’re only interested in playing up this supposed “war on unions” to keep their troops’ attention.
The union’s media allies at NBC Chicago are on board.
“The class war is just about over. And the upper class has just about won.” McClelland concluded at the end of his blog.
Only in the unions’ fevered dreams is that true.