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During former Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure, the passage of Act 10 prohibited employers from deducting “labor organization dues from a general employee’s earnings.” Consequently, Wisconsin union members have to separately pay their union dues.
Enacted in 2011, the law limited collective bargaining for a majority of Wisconsin’s public sector employees, including teachers. Those restrictions included eliminating dues check-off systems. Walker touted the measure as a way for employees who want to opt out of their unions to save money.
Several challenges were raised about the legality of the measure, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately upheld the entirety of Act 10 in a 2014 ruling.
Experts have pointed to the elimination of dues check-off systems as a contributing factor to shrinking union membership. Wisconsin’s union membership decreased from 13.3% in 2011 when Act 10 was enacted to 7.9% in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: 2011 Wisconsin Act 10
PolitiFact: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says government workers in Wisconsin pay $500 to $1,000 per year in union dues
State Bar of Wisconsin: Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Act 10, Ends Collective Bargaining Saga for Now
US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers in Wisconsin, annual averages, 2011–2021