March 16, 2011- While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) may have won the most recent battle in Madison by securing passage of an anti-union bill, labor activists are optimistic they may emerge as the victors in the long run.
Forming a union is a lengthy process, and although labor officials say they already see more interest from workers, it's too soon to measure an increase in membership numbers. But there is one indication the battles in Wisconsin are providing a boost for labor.
Working America, an advocacy organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO that provides an outlet for non-union members to support the labor movement, has signed up approximately 20,000 new members since Feb. 15. The group was active in the state in 2008, when it built up the bulk of its membership, which now stands at 65,000. It was inactive for the past couple years, however, and just reopened shop the beginning of 2011.
Joining up with Working America is far easier than enrolling in a union, involving simply filling out a form either in person or online. New members are asked to contribute $5, although no dues are required.
Joining a union, on the other hand, requires holding elections and often battling with management, which may employ all sorts of tactics to slow down or stop the process.