KING, Wis. — At the old union hall here on a recent afternoon, Terry Magnant sat at the head of a table surrounded by 18 empty chairs. A members meeting had been scheduled to start a half-hour earlier, but the small house, with its cracked walls and loose roof shingles, was lonely and desolate.
“There used to be a lot more people coming,” said Magnant, a 51-year-old nursing assistant, sighing.
The anti-union law passed here four years ago, which made Gov. Scott Walker a national Republican star and a possible presidential candidate, has turned out to be even more transformative than many had predicted.
Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers.
Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled.
Unions representing teachers, professors, trash collectors and other government employees are struggling to stem plummeting membership rolls and retain relevance in the state where they got their start. Keep on reading...