Most likely, all of you have heard about the union debate in Wisconsin, or should I say; The debate that was. It's currently headed to an assembly, where it is basically certain to pass. The bill removes most collective bargaining rights for all public employees. It's justified by Governor Walker under the idea that it will help eliminate Wisconsin's budget shortfalls. Those against it make allegations of Koch Brothers involvement, and give statements such as:
In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. -Mark Miller (D)
So, lets look at one group of those public workers; The Teachers. Here's some numbers:
Average Wisconsin Teacher Salary: $52,644 (source)
Average Benefits: $20-40,000 (Various sources, take with grain of salt)
Vacation Time: 13-14 weeks (source)
Average Per Capita Income: $25,993(source)
High School Graduation Rate: 85% (40% for blacks, the worst in the nation)(source)
So what are we seeing here? Undoubtedly, you can form your own conclusions. My thoughts are that Wisconsin teachers are doing pretty well. Nothing amazing, but they seem to be making a solid middle class income. Unions are almost certainly responsible for that. These unions are not exactly out of control when compared to the likes of the UAW (~double the average salary for manufacturing sector jobs, $69 an hour including benefits by GM's estimates in 06) Yet, the unions have pushed themselves to a level that is, in my opinion, slightly excessive.
The quality of their work is difficult to ascertain, so it's hard to say whether they deserve the money they make, as it's largely dependent on the individual. This is a major reason why I advocate merit based pay, which unfortunately is hated by many/most unions. (surprise, surprise) One figure really jumps out at me though; That being the vacation time. 13-14 weeks?! Keep in mind, these teachers are making a full time income, for about 25% less time worked. That's where these numbers make you realize that these teachers are not hurting as much as they'd like you to believe.
So, is this "anti-union" bill justified? That's the question I intend to delve into in a series of posts regarding both this specific situation, and unions in general. As always, I'd love to see any comments you guys may have, and may well incorporate them into blog posts if you have a specific figure or interesting opinion that's worth sharing.