Today's Wall Street Journal features Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's op-ed, which touches in part on just what "collective bargaining" means for public-sector unions. Here is the first example he gives:
In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.
Ms. Sampson got a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective-bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers $101,091 per year for each teacher, protects a 0% contribution for health-insurance premiums, and forces schools to hire and fire based on seniority and union rules.
My state's budget-repair bill, which passed the Assembly on Feb. 25 and awaits a vote in the Senate, reforms this union-controlled hiring and firing process by allowing school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.
For all those poll respondents who heard the words "collective bargaining on work rules" and thought it a benign -sounding thing -- even a human right -- this is a great example of what "collective bargaining" actually looks like in real life. It means that because you hired your most productive worker one day after you hired the worst slacker in your plant, you have to lay off the diligent worker first. It is kind of like "zero tolerance" in that it creates one-size-fits-all rules with no discretion or common sense allowed. It protects bad workers (if they manage to get seniority) and hurts good ones.
It is good to see Walker finally out there making the case for what the legislature has now done. It is not too late, because he and the Wisconsin GOP are most certainly not out of the woods yet, not by a longshot.