Act 10 and Public Unions

For the better part of the last decade, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The controversial budget repair bill, introduced by Governor Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State.

WILL has been on the forefront of examining the impact of Act 10 on education, the teaching workforce, and puncturing the myths that persist about the law.

Research and Analysis

Politics in the Pandemic: The Role of Unions in School Reopening Decisions,

November 16, 2020 | Will Flanders

As the new school year approached in 2020, individual school districts in Wisconsin had to make important decisions about in-person learning or using virtual options. But how much did the local presence of the COVID-19 virus factor into these decisions? Research Director Will Flanders, author of Politics in the Pandemic: The Role of Unions in School Reopening Decisions, finds that factors other than the local presence of the virus appear to have played a much larger role.

Press Release | Report

Democracy in the Workplace: Examining Union Recertification in Wisconsin under Act 10

November 21, 2019 | Will Flanders and Lauren Tunney

Act 10, passed in 2011, was a disruptive force that shook the status quo for public-sector unions. Recent research on Act 10 has found the reforms resulted in higher test scores and a new teacher marketplace, without negative effects on class size and teacher gross pay. WILL’s new original research examined the effect annual union certification votes, a critical Act 10 reform, had on public unions, union members, and education in Wisconsin.

Press ReleaseReport

Keeping Score: Act 10’s Impact on Student Achievement

October 3, 2018 | Will Flanders and Collin Roth

WILL conducted the most comprehensive and sophisticated study to date on the impact of Act 10 on student outcomes. Open records requests were sent to every school district in Wisconsin to determine when Act 10 was implemented. With nearly 90% response rate, WILL was then able to conduct an analysis using control variables to isolate the effect of Act 10 on standardized test score and graduation rates.

Press Release | Report

Silent Successes: The (Still) Undertold Stories of School Districts using Act 10

August 22, 2018 | Will Flanders and Lauren Tunney

Silent Successes examined contracts between Wisconsin school districts and their unions to determine how superintendents are using Act 10 reforms. The report documents how Wisconsin districts have implemented two different systems of merit pay: Merit pay at the discretion of the school board, and merit pay based on performance evaluations. Both systems accomplish the same end— they incentivize the teacher pay system.

Press Release | Report

The Impact of Act 10 on Wisconsin's Education Workforce

June 21, 2016 | Martin Lueken, Will Flanders, and CJ Szafir

A new report that studies how Act 10 has impacted the new marketplace for teachers in Wisconsin after five years of implementation. The study is the most comprehensive analysis yet on the effect of the law on classroom sizes and teacher pay, benefits, experience, and race. The findings show that the claims that Act 10 would have dire consequences on the education workforce were greatly exaggerated.

Press Release | Report

Undertold Stories of Act 10: How Superintendents Have Used Act 10 to Reform Public Schools

April 19, 2016 | CJ Szafir, Will Flanders, and Alexandra Hudson

With collective bargaining limited and the unions weakened, superintendents of public schools no longer have to seek approval from the unions to make changes to the administration of their schools. They are free to adopt the best practices of teacher pay or classroom management, according to criteria other than the rigid policies from a union collective bargaining agreement.

WILL’s report explores these Act 10 stories across the state.

Press Release | Report

Media and Commentary

The Hill | Act 10 benefited education in Wisconsin — and may empower workers elsewhere

July 23, 2021 | Rick Esenberg and Will Flanders

Cap Times | Extending Act 10 to police unions could make officers more accountable to the public

June 14, 2020 | Will Flanders and Cori Petersen

Wall Street Journal | Scott Walker’s Gift to His Democratic Successor

April 5, 2019 | CJ Szafir and Collin Roth

RealClearPolicy | Collective Bargaining and Pension Reform in Wisconsin

October 31, 2018 | Collin Roth and Will Flanders

WILL Blog | WHAT WOULD AN ACT 10 REPEAL LOOK LIKE?

October 18, 2018 | CJ Szafir and Collin Roth

Center Square | Study: Act 10 leads to improvement in Wisconsin math testing results

October 4, 2018 | Noell Evans

RightWisconsin | THE WASHINGTON POST’S WHOPPERS ABOUT WALKER’S EDUCATION POLICIES

July 5, 2018 | Will Flanders

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | The next absurd Act 10 lawsuit

November 2, 2016 | Rick Esenberg, CJ Szafir, and Libby Sobic

PBS Wisconsin | Rick Esenberg and Scot Ross Discuss WILL report

June 24, 2016 | 

Wall Street Journal | Critics of Wisconsin’s Public-Union Reforms Keep Firing Blanks

July 22, 2016 | CJ Szafir and Collin Roth

Wisconsin Public Radio | Report Finds Education Workforce Has Seen Few Impacts from Act 10

June 21, 2016 | Kyla Calvert Mason

National Review | Walker’s Union Reforms Have Helped, Not Hurt, Wisconsinites

April 22, 2016 | CJ Szafir