After a resounding defeat in Wisconsin, labor and public sector unions vowed to regroup and continue to fight against Republican-led efforts to weaken their influence across the country.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka rebuked CBS host Bob Scheiffer for suggesting Sunday on “Face of the Nation” that union mobilization efforts were weak in the Wisconsin recall election.
“The Wisconsin fight really did provide a spark for the labor movement in Wisconsin because we’re organizing more than we have in the past,” Trumka countered.
“In the past we couldn’t talk to non-union workers. Now we can at least talk to non-union workers, so we’ll be mobilizing them and educating them not for just six or eight months before an election, but we’ll be doing it year-round,” Trumka continued. “So the day after that Wisconsin election happened, we were back out on the streets; we were talking to workers; we were educating them; we were mobilizing, and we were getting them going.”
Pundits have been arguing over what the results of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recall election victory mean for the national election. Will Romney do well in November, or do exit polls indicate Obama still has a strong lead, despite a Republican victory?
A better question might be, what happens to public employee unions?
“This struggle is far from over,” said Gerald W. McEntee, president of AFSCME. “Remember that collective bargaining rights were taken from workers in Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio and Puerto Rico — yet they all ultimately won them back. Make no mistake, the battle in Wisconsin will not end until workers in the Badger State win back their stolen right to a voice on the job.”
The Wall Street Journal notes that governors and state legislators across the country, emboldened by Walker’s win, could now pursue right-to-work legislation, aimed at curbing collective bargaining rights and ban mandatory union membership and dues.
“It was about withstanding the political consequences of reforming public unions,” wrote Emily Ekins, director of polling for Reason Foundation. “Unions instigated the Walker recall in part to restore their previous collective bargaining power, but also to demonstrate that a governor cannot ‘roll over’ public unions without dire political consequences.”
If Republican politicians are able to withstand the political fallout and are able to curb union collective bargaining rights and membership, an important source of Democratic funding will be hurt.
“Consequently, reforming public unions may have an indirect effect by reducing union campaign spending for Democratic candidates,” wrote Ekins.
The Journal notes that public sector union political-action committees have donated $4.7 million congressional candidates in 2012, with 90 percent of those donations going to Democrats. The three largest public sector union PACs have raised $23.4 million this year, which can be donated to candidates or used on ads, mailing, and other election activities.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, public sector unions have donated over $11 million to campaigns and committees in state elections this year, with nearly 74 percent of it going to Democratic candidates.
Some say state governments will seek to ride Walker’s momentum against unions.
With Republicans controlling legislatures and governorships in 24 states, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist told the Journal he expects at least half of those states to act within 12 months to work against collective bargaining or push right-to-work laws to help balance their budgets.
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