Whatever ends up happening to public employee unions, I think it's safe to say that right-to-work legislation is not coming to Wisconsin soon. In fact, before the governor even introduced the budget repair bill, Sen. Glenn Grothman said he doubted that his party would be able to push through a bill outlawing contracts between employers and unions that either require all employees to be union members or require them to pay union dues.
After three weeks of raucous protests, and polls which show the public opposes the elimination of collective bargaining rights for government workers, there is no way in hell the GOP is going to push the fight against unions further. If thousands of union members from the private sector have come to Madison to show their support for public sector workers, one can only imagine the response that will come when their union rights are directly attacked as well.
In fact, around the country, Republican governors are shying away from confrontations with unions, in part because of what they've seen take place in Wisconsin. In Indiana the governor has told Republican legislators to stop pushing right-to-work legislation, and in New Jersey Chris Christie, the notorious enemy of teacher's unions, has said he sees no reason to end collective bargaining for public workers.
You have to wonder if unions around the state are preparing for the fight nevertheless. They might want to start by making dues that fund political campaigns voluntary. While it makes sense that everybody who benefits from a collective bargaining agreement should pay their fair share for union representation, it does not make sense that everybody should have to contribute to some libelous TV ad that may have nothing to do with their job.
The government should not make the practice of mandatory campaign dues illegal in the private sector, but unions should make an effort to bar the practice themselves. It will be good for public relations, and it will establish trust between workers and their union leadership.