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Big Labor's Losses

November 8, 2012
Wall Street Journal

Unions can boast about helping President Obama win re-election and raising taxes through the roof in California, but when their own causes were directly at issue on Tuesday, unions didn't fare so well.

The biggest defeat came in Michigan, where 58% of the voters rebuffed an attempt to entrench collective bargaining in the state constitution. More than $45 million was spent for and against the law, making it one of the priciest ballot measures in Michigan history. Unions also lost Proposition 4, a service workers measure to establish collective bargaining for home health-care workers. Conservatives retained their majority in the Michigan Supreme Court despite an effort by unions and trial lawyers to install their favorites.

You won't hear this on MSNBC, but Wisconsin voters also revalidated Scott Walker's labor agenda. Despite voting for Mr. Obama and a liberal Democrat for the U.S. Senate, the state's ambidextrous voters handed control back to Republicans in the state Senate, as the GOP gained two seats, and maintained its 60-seat majority in the assembly.

Washington state also succeeded in its fourth try in passing a measure to allow public charter schools, and 58% of Georgia voters supported amending their state constitution to allow local communities to create charters. In Idaho, however, the National Education Association poured in millions of dollars to overturn a state law limiting collective-bargaining for teachers and instituting some pay-for-performance measures. Yes, Idaho. No accountability idea is too small for the NEA to crush.

Union political power is still considerable, and you can expect Mr. Obama to try to expand it via regulation and other ways in the next four years. But when offset by adequate money and public knowledge, Big Labor's power plays usually lose.

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