After relentlessly attacking his run for president, top union leaders are now praising the news Monday that Republican Gov. Scott Walker has stepped out of the race.
“This is a clear rebuke of the anti-worker platform on which Governor Walker based his entire presidential campaign,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement. “The rejection of Governor Walker’s harmful, unjust economic policies should serve as a wake-up call to all politicians seeking to further their careers by silencing the voices of working people.”
Walker officially announced his run July 13. Almost immediately the most powerful national unions moved in to discredit his campaign. At the time, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka even called Walker a “national disgrace,” in a statement that went into no further detail.
Still holding to his original comments, all Trumka said was, “Scott Walker is still a disgrace, just no longer national,” with the news he is stepping out of the race. Other unions took to Twitter to express their views.
The labor movement have long been at odds with Walker over labor reforms he pursued in 2011 during his first term as governor. The reforms, known as Act 10, allowed state employees to choice whether they wanted to pay union dues. It also required public unions to hold a renewal vote every couple of years to determine if workers still wanted them.
The labor movement did all it could to oppose the law. At the time, thousands of protesters descended on the Wisconsin Capitol to rally against the act. They surrounded the outside and occupied much of the building. Walker, however, was able to outlast the protests. Afterwards opponents even tried to get Walker thrown out of office with a recall election in 2012.
After a rough battle, Walker was able to overcome the attack and even won reelection during the 2014 midterm. Earlier in the year unions in the state took another major hit after Republicans in the legislature passed a law which banned mandatory dues as a condition of employment.
The reforms also made Walker a target of top Democrats. Those like President Barack Obama along with presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all condemned him for reining in union power.
His campaign, however, has defended the reforms as being beneficial to state residents. The campaign noted Act 10 saved taxpayers money and helped private sector workers by giving them more choice.
Walker planned to go even further on the national level if elected president. His national labor reform proposal released Sept. 15, would impact several key areas. It would eliminate the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and abolish federal employee unions. More so, it would allow all workers to choice whether they wanted to pay union dues.
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