"The repeal of much of Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law will do more to improve the quality and lower the cost of Wisconsin government than anything else we’ve done...the cost savings are significant at all levels of government. But, the most important benefit will be an improvement in the quality of our schools as efficiency, personnel decisions, compensation decisions and methods of teaching children will not be subject to union meddling and obstruction."
Here is text from Senator Grothman's letter, which includes details of how the legislation improved things in Wisconsin.
The repeal of much of Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law with regard to many of Wisconsin’s public employees will do more to improve the quality and lower the cost of Wisconsin government than anything else we’ve done. There are approximately 275,000 government employees in the state of Wisconsin, 105,229 work in education. Only half of state employees are unionized, but almost all school employees are.
Let’s look at how collective bargaining affects both the cost and quality of our schools.
Under current law, virtually all conditions of employment have to be spelled out in a collectively bargained agreement. Consequently, it is very difficult to remove underperforming school teachers. It may take years of documentation and thousands of dollars in attorney fees to fire a bad teacher. Is it right that two or three classes of second graders must endure a bad teacher while waiting for documentation to be collected? Just as damaging is the inability to motivate or change the mediocre teacher who isn’t bad enough to fire. Good superintendants are stymied when they try to improve a teacher who is doing just enough to get by.
Another problem affecting our schools’ quality is that payment for individual teachers is not based on merit but on a union negotiated pay schedule. A mediocre teacher with a master’s degree and additional college credits gets more money than a superior teacher who doesn’t have as many college credits. This is clearly unfair, and destroys healthy incentives that would encourage teachers to be more effective.
It has been well reported that, under collective bargaining, districts have been stuck with the teacher union insurance company which can cost $3,000 or more per teacher than a plan that is virtually identical to that which another company is willing to provide. Switching to Health Savings Accounts like the private sector is out of the question.
The removal of collective bargaining in prisons will also save money. Under collective bargaining, guards could call in sick on first shift and work overtime on second shift. Similar to counties, you could not shuttle people back and forth between job descriptions. If a prisoner must go to the hospital, the prison may have to send a transporter who is on overtime to take the prisoner to the hospital rather than an extra prison guard who is not in the prison at that time.
While we did not eliminate collective bargaining, we certainly reduced its scope in Wisconsin. As a direct result, the cost savings are significant at all levels of government. (Cost savings to schools from having school employees pay a small part of their health insurance and pension costs more than offset the mild reduction in education funding.) But, the most important benefit will be an improvement in the quality of our schools as efficiency, personnel decisions, compensation decisions and methods of teaching children will not be subject to union meddling and obstruction.