We all saw the ugly, childish tantrum that unions threw in Madison, Wisconsin in that state’s capitol building. Complete with violence, vandalism and threats against lawmakers it was an ugly moment in American politics.
But ultimately the unions didn’t get their way. The law passed, and it means big savings for the cash-strapped state where the Republicans who passed the law had run on balancing the budget:
The new law, which was met with union protests unlike this generation has seen, put more power into the hands of school boards and administrators to set spending policy. That’s because spending policy was taken off the collective bargaining table, where the Wisconsin Education Association Council could manipulate the process to its own self-serving advantage. Perhaps most significantly, the new law took employee health insurance off the bargaining table, so WEAC is no longer able to pressure school boards to purchased overpriced coverage from WEA Trust, an insurance carrier established by the union. …
That has all been wiped away and many school boards are about to reap the rewards.
The MacIver Institute recently produced a report showing the potential savings many school districts stand to receive, just from new mandatory employee contributions to health benefit premiums and pension plans. For example, in the Green Bay district, if employees contribute 12.6% of the health insurance premium and 5.8% to their pensions, it stands to save $11 million. With similar contributions by employees, Madison would see $15.5 million; MacIver estimates the Racine district would save $19.2 million.
In related news, now that the union-backed insurance company no longer has an effective monopoly the prices its charging the premiums teachers pay are falling:
“And it just happens that the Hartland-Lakeside teachers’ collective bargaining agreement expired on June 30. So now, freed from the expensive WEA Trust deal, the school district has changed insurers.
“‘It’s going to save us about $690,000 in 2011-2012,’ says [Superintendent Glenn] Schilling. Insurance costs that had been about $2.5 million a year will now be around $1.8 million. What union leaders said would be a catastrophe will in fact be a boon to teachers and students.”
That last point is interesting. You would think that the union had what was best for the teachers in mind, yet clearly the union’s insurance company was being run for the benefit of the union not the teachers.