Wisconsin Republicans won big this week, with their newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions overcoming a court challenge brought on the procedures used to pass it. Now that months of wrangling over its passage are behind us, what will the law's impact actually be?
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As readers might recall, the law was passed in the name of fiscal austerity, requiring public employees to make greater contributions to their health care and pensions. But much more than that, it has removed most collective bargaining rights for public employees, exempting only police and firefighters. It also now requires public employee unions to win certification elections every year, with 50%-plus-one support of all eligible voting employees (not just those participating in the election), and bars automatic collection of union dues from employees' paychecks. So overall, it is a powerful tool for the Walker administration to break the unions.