In the first debate for 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker invoked his fight against organized labor as the reason why voters should pick him.
“We took on the big government union bosses,” Walker declared in his closing statement. “And we won.”
It all started in 2011 when Walker reined in union power by reforming state labor policy. The labor policy reforms were met with resistance from the most powerful national unions.
The reforms, known as Act 10, significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees within the state. It also required public unions to hold a renewal vote every couple of years to determine if workers still wanted them.
Labor unions and their supporters adamantly opposed the law. At the time, thousands of union members and their supporters descended on the Wisconsin capital to protest the act. Walker, however, was able to outlast the protests and has since used it as an example of how he handles opposition and pressure.
Opponents also tried to get Walker thrown out of office with a recall election in 2012. Walker was able to overcome the attacks and even won reelection during the 2014 midterm.
Republicans in the legislature went a step further in the past year when they passed a law that banned mandatory union dues as a condition of employment.
The debate was hosted by Fox News hosts Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. Walker also argued against the Iran deal and Planned Parenthood during the debate. Even before announcing his run for president July 13, Walker has used his victory over labor unions in Wisconsin as a reason he is a good leader.
To get the Republican nomination, Walker will first have to beat Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul among others in the Republican primary.
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