The famous Intrade prediction market is currently giving Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker a 91.7% chance of withstanding Big Labor’s forced dues-funded bid to oust him in a special “recall” election June 5, and professional pollsters and most pundits agree a Walker victory is very likely. Union-boss efforts to oust several other Republican elected officials who supported Mr. Walker’s 2011 rollback of their monopoly-bargaining privileges in the public sector are also expected to fail.
Still, Mr. Walker’s recall race and that of his 2010 running mate, fellow Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, remain unpredictable and appear to be close. And even if both win next week by wider-than-expected margins, union-label politicians and commentators will doubtless continue to brand the Walker Administration as a “failure.” One favorite weapon Walker haters have at their disposal is the campaign promise he made two years ago that the state would add a net 250,000 jobs during his initial four-year term. (See the link above.)
Throughout the recall campaign, Walker challenger Tom Barrett, the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, has cited the U.S. Labor Department’s payroll survey data, which are based on a survey of a small sample of businesses. These data, Mr. Barrett contends, show that Wisconsin lost nearly 24,000 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012 and that it has “the worst performance of any state” when it comes to employment. Mr. Walker retorts that a much broader survey of employers conducted at the end of last year by the state census shows that Wisconsin actually gained more than 23,000 jobs in 2011.
Dispassionate observers generally agree that once the final revised jobs numbers for 2011 are available Mr. Walker’s contention that Badger State employment has grown since he took office will be vindicated. But the pace of growth appears to be far too slow for Wisconsin to meet his goal of 250,000 more jobs at the outset of 2015 than existed in early 2011. If he wants to help accelerate Wisconsin’s job growth, the governor should reconsider his current public stance against consideration of a state Right to Work law in the state General Assembly.
Mr. Walker’s Budget Repair Act of 2011 revoked the forced-dues privileges of most teacher and other government union bosses, in addition to narrowing the scope of their monopoly-bargaining privileges in other ways. But this law leaves untouched Big Labor’s power to compel private-sector workers to pay union dues, or be fired. And the evidence shows that Right to Work laws protecting both private- and public-sector employees from compulsory union dues are strongly correlated with faster job growth.
From 2000 to 2010, for example, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, total private-sector employment in the 22 Right to Work states grew by 10.4%, or nearly six times as much as the 1.9% aggregate gain for forced-unionism states. Wisconsin’s BEA-measure private-sector job growth over the decade was just 1.1%. (In March, Indiana became the 23rd Right to Work state when its recently passed ban on forced union dues took effect.)