The campaign for Gov. Scott Walker shot back Thursday against Reuters for claiming the Republican candidate is at fault of a double standard — being a union-buster while using a pro-union company.
Since announcing his run for president July 13, Walker has used the Wisconsin-based motorcycle company Harley-Davidson as a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Reuters reporter Emily Flitter, however, wrote it was problematic for the governor considering the company is very much pro-union and he is not.
“It’s not clear how he can reconcile his love of the powerful, deep-rumbling bikes known as ‘hogs’ with the strong union loyalties of those who build them,” Flitter noted. “Some of the people who build Harleys – more than a thousand of whom are unionized workers in Wisconsin – are fuming over Walker’s prominent use of the bikes in his campaign.”
As for Harley-Davidson, its main point of interest is his loyalty to the brand. The company and its workers are well known for having a very positive relationship with its unions. Beyond that the company doesn’t endorse candidates and remains neutral in political campaigns.
“While there’s no official relationship between Harley-Davidson and Governor Walker, he is passionate about our brand,” a spokeswoman for the company told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s important to note our dealerships are independently owned and operated businesses.”
Walker is often pegged as being very anti-union because of policy reforms he has pursued during his time in office. The article points to a right-to-work measure he signed effectively ending mandatory union dues in the state as a condition of employment. Despite the criticism AshLee Strong, a campaign spokeswoman, says Walker is not anti-union.
“Governor Walker believes individual workers should be free to decide on their own,” Strong told TheDCNF in a statement. “Without the influence of union bosses – whether they’d like to join a union and pay dues and that’s why he signed a law making Wisconsin a right-to-work state.”
The law did indeed significantly curtail union power. As pointed out by Strong, though, it did not ban unions, prevent workers from joining unions nor stop companies, like Harley-Davidson, from working with unions. It simply says workers have a choice.
Walker wasn’t even the main force behind getting the law passed. Starting in 2014 the law was pursued by Republicans in the state legislature and championed by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Laurel Patrick, spokeswoman for governor’s state office,
Still though, even with the backlash from Walker’s campaign, Reuters is defending the article. A spokeswoman for the news outlet told TheDCNF, “We stand by the accuracy of our story.”
Despite his limited involvement unions and other critics immediately made Walker the face of the measure. Much of the association had to do with another labor policy he passed years prior during his first term.
“At its core, Act 10 benefited all taxpayers by taking away power from the special interests that were getting favorable treatment at the expense of taxpayers and private sector workers,” Strong detailed. “He will continue to work to advance policies that help all workers and taxpayers.”
Act 10 brought Walker national attention and the wrath of unions when it was passed in 2011. The law significantly curtailed public sector union power within the state. It effectively limited collective bargaining and the duration of labor contracts. Since it applied to public sector unions, companies like Harley-Davidson were not in any way impacted.
Labor unions and their supporters adamantly opposed the reforms and even tried to get Walker thrown out of office with a recall election in 2012. Walker, however, was able to overcome the attack and even won reelection during the 2014 midterm.
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