MADISON, Wis. – For decades, Wisconsin’s public employee unions have been represented by one of three main AFSCME “councils” or union of local unions. Starting soon, there will be only be one.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the ripple effects of Act 10 continue to be felt across the state, especially in the AFSCME union halls, where membership has plummeted. To compensate, AFSCME-Wisconsin will eliminate Councils 24 (Dane County), 40 (The rest of the state) and 48 (Milwaukee County) with a brand new “Council 32.”

The three Wisconsin AFSCME councils claimed nearly 63,000 members in 2010. That number is likely less than 20,000 now.

Publicly available tax records for the state workers union show that Council 24 revenue dropped from over $5 million in 2010 to $1.5 million in 2013. Like the other councils it reduced staff to cut costs, but from 2011 through 2013 it spent $1.8 million more than it took in.

Act 10 took effect immediately on state workers, whose contracts had expired. Many of the local unions represented by Councils 40 and 48 continued to operate and receive dues under longer-term contracts until recently. But they too have had financial problems, U.S. Department of Labor reports show.

Council 48 spent $1.1 million more than it took in from 2011 through 2014, while Council 40 overran revenues by a total of $863,000 in the last two years.

Without the ability to freely negotiate contracts and collect dues through payroll deductions, the labor groups have shifted their focus to political action, fighting for members by attempting to influence officials through elections and advocacy.

Some public-sector bargaining units have won recertification through annual membership votes under provisions of Act 10. They can bargain for small raises only, not for benefits or working conditions, and they have no recourse to arbitration if employers simply say no to their demands.

Of course the public employee unions are not taking this merger and the drop in membership and revenue lightly. Even their new name, “Council 32,” is essentially a political middle-finger to Act 10 and Wisconsin taxpayers.

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The first ASFCME chapter was founding in 1932 by government employees in Madison.

Originally published here

Published with permission