While this blog is focused on the negative impact of project labor agreement (PLA) mandates on taxpayer funded construction, we have kept a watchful eye on both the Wisconsin recall elections and the debate over S.B. 5 in Ohio in recent months and have some thoughts to share.
Many observers project that more than $30 million was spent on the Wisconsin recall elections, much of it by Big Labor and their progressive allies. Despite this massive investment, the Democrats were only able to win two of six Senate races, meaning they will be one seat short of retaking control of the chamber.
To make matters worse for the Democrats, two incumbent Dems will face their own recall elections next week and Republicans are expected to pick up at least one of these two seats. By time it is all said and done, despite the massive financial investment and hours of hand-wringing by MSNBC personalities like Ed Schultz, it looks like the final result of the 2011 Wisconsin recall elections will be almost no net change.
But the Wisconsin Budget Repair Act related to unionized public sector workers, why does this matter to the fight against wasteful and discriminatory government-mandated PLAs?
Glad you asked.
In November 2010, voters across the country opted for reform over business as usual. They understood that our government, particularly at the state level, is in need of change.
While private sector employers were forced to shed jobs during the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression, public sector union bosses got richer. State deficits, which are legally required to be closed in 49 states, grew out of control. Obligations to public sector employee benefits started to crowd out necessary social services for our neediest friends and neighbors.
Something had to change.
Once elected, new governors and state legislative leaders undertook the reforms they promised during the campaign. Reform is never easy. Entrenched special interests have a great deal to lose. Union bosses and their liberal allies decided to make Wisconsin ground zero. They wanted to show elected leaders in other states that their sacred cows are too politically difficult to reform and there would be a price for trying to limit union excesses.
But a funny thing happened on Tuesday. The voters stood with their elected leaders and turned back Big Labor’s attempt to retake the Senate majority. Union bosses couldn’t hide that over half of the jobs created in June came from Wisconsin or that The Budget Repair Act is finally giving local governments the flexibility they needs to balance their budgets.
The Wisconsin recall results show that taxpayers want government to make fiscally responsible decisions with the best interest of all citizens in mind. Wisconsinites stood up for Governor Scott Walker and state lawmakers that took the tough votes knowing that they could face Big Labor’s sound and fury in the fall.
Back to PLAs.
These results should embolden state leaders to continue their efforts to reform public construction. Taxpayers want quality and accountability, not Big Labor handouts, for their public construction dollars. The Wisconsin recall election results show that voters understand that sound fiscal policy decisions may upset the proverbial apple cart, but are good for this country in the long run and worth pursuing.
In 2011, seven states stood up to Obama administration-style handouts and said NO to PLA mandates on public projects. Tuesday’s message is that the voters are with the reformers.