Public Employee Union Boycott Threat Backfires

It’s not often we get a real market test of the popularity of public employee unions, so this recent experience from Wisconsin provides an interesting peek at the real public’s perception. If a harbinger of broader public opinion, members of public employee unions may want to rethink their tactics.

Owners of businesses from large banks to Mom-and-Pop stores in Wisconsin have been approached to display pro-union signs in their windows. Those who refused—like Dawn Bobo, the owner of a Dollar Store in Union Grove, WI—subsequently received letters from union reps threatening boycotts:

With that we’d ask that you reconsider taking a sign and stance to support public employees in this community. Failure to do so will leave us no choice but do [sic] a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.

After local media picked up the story, business at Ms. Bobo’s store quadrupled.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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