When anti-union forces attack, it is vital to remain strong and united. We have seen in other states across the country what happens when union breaking tactics succeed ─ to devastating results. We don’t need to imagine what could happen here in New York, we have seen the consequences play out again and again nationwide.
The most famous case of union busting at a state level is undoubtedly Wisconsin. A strong union movement and rich pro-labor history couldn’t stop former Gov. Scott Walker and his legislative allies. Here are some horrible highlights:
- In just five years, the average value of health care and pensions paid to Wisconsin’s teachers plummeted over 20%
- Wisconsin’s teacher’s union lost more than half its members in four years
- Two-thirds of Wisconsin school districts cut or ended post-employment benefits for future retirees
And these right-wing anti-union forces didn’t stop at Wisconsin.
In Maine, just a decade after former Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican majority froze cost-of-living adjustments for three years for pensions and then limited maximum COLA increases to 3%, retirees are now facing poverty as their retirement doesn’t let them afford basic necessities like monthly electric bills.
The reason for these massive cuts to public employee pensions? To pay for income tax breaks to benefit the wealthy and corporations.
In Arizona, in a move to lower professional standards, anti-union forces signed a law stating you no longer need a college degree to begin teaching. Who pushed for this change? Business interests like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. It was a move right out of the playbook of right-wing “think tanks” who want to destroy teacher's unions nationwide.
Or look at Kentucky. Over the past few years, the legislature there has whittled away teachers’ pension plans. In 2018, they took away the defined pension rights of any public school teacher. That bill got struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court, but in 2021, the legislature was back at it again, placing teachers on a “hybrid” retirement plan where pensions got slashed, teachers pay more of their paycheck towards retirement and have to work longer to get it.
And who can forget Florida. Where draconian laws signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis are aimed at silencing and intimidating teachers and where even teachers who want to be in their union are facing increased paperwork and extra effort just to contribute.
The fact is:
If we do not stand united, if we do not fight, if we do not value the protections that we have here in New York, we could soon find ourselves facing the same hellscape that our union siblings in these states, and others, already are.