Since Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he would not only seek legislation this week to end collective bargaining for most public employees without hearings or debate, but also send in the National Guard to either quell unrest or fill in during a walkout, the labor movement has organized. This is a pretty good rundown of events. There are rallies and lobby days and a host of other actions scheduled over the course of the week. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is running the above ad in heavy rotation across the state for the next several days.
The press has begun to take notice. Walker’s action was slammed in the Capital Times of Madison, which quoted even some state Republicans who testified to the radical nature of the scheme:
The governor’s budget repair bill, which includes a plan to gut collective bargaining protections for state employees, does not seek to get the state’s fiscal house in order.
Rather, it is seeks a political goal: destroying public employee unions, which demand fair treatment of workers and hold governors of both parties to account when they seek to undermine public services and public education […]
As state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, notes, “Wisconsin is hardly ‘open for business’ if businesses can’t attract employees because of a bad employee climate in our state. The government banning employees from negotiating through unions is a radical and dangerous notion that Wisconsin simply shouldn’t embrace. If high-tech and emerging industries can’t attract employees because of our bad employee atmosphere in our state, they certainly won’t locate here.”
Pocan’s not the only one who is suggesting that the plan is “radical.” Responsible Republicans, such as state Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, are concerned. “The concept is pretty radical,” Olsen says of the Walker proposal. “It affects a lot of good working people.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, says Republican legislators have a “lot of good questions” for Walker’s team.
But while Walker’s scheme is definitely extreme, it’s not even unique. Ohio’s Governor John Kasich has the same bill, which would similarly roll back collective bargaining for state workers. And they’re not alone. Walker’s invocation of the National Guard makes him the most showy about it, but this is a coordinated effort to strip public employees of their rights.
Kasich said Thursday if lawmakers don’t dismantle public employees collective bargaining then he will. “All this is rooted in job creation.”
It’s a fight shaping up with unions in states across the country, particularly those with Republican-dominated governments that are in fiscal trouble. Indiana, Idaho and Tennessee all have legislation in the works that would scale back or eliminate collective bargaining.
Scratch this a bit and I’m sure you’ll find ALEC behind it.
Walker made the mistake of stepping out first – and attempting to use the Guard as his personal army.