MADISON, Wis.—Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker on Monday will call for sweeping restrictions on organized labor in the U.S., seeking to replicate nationwide his successful effort as Wisconsin’s governor to curb the power of unions.
At a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Walker will propose eliminating unions for employees of the federal government, making all workplaces right-to-work unless individual states vote otherwise, scrapping the federal agency that oversees unfair labor practices and making it more difficult for unions to organize.
Many of Walker’s proposals are focused on unions for workers at all levels of government, while others would also affect private-sector unions. Labor law experts said such an effort, if successful, would substantially reduce the power of organized labor in America.
Prosecutors accuse Gov. Scott Walker of personally overseeing a sweeping “criminal scheme” to illegally coordinate fundraising and campaign activity among conservative groups in a broad effort to help him – and Republican senators – fend off recalls in 2011 and 2012, court documents made public June 19 show.
In the documents, unsealed by a federal appeals judge, prosecutors described what they called a “criminal scheme” to circumvent state campaign finance and election laws.
Mention in Illinois the names of the anti-union governors of Indiana and Wisconsin – Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels – and, well, just start watching, listening and counting.
When the Wisconsin and Indiana governors separately ventured into Illinois April 17 and 19 for pre-arranged speaking engagements in Springfield (Walker to business leaders) and Champaign (Daniels to Republican leaders) almost 10,000 union members and supporters in total at both locations showed up to demonstrate their displeasure.
They unfurled union banners, set up 20-foot inflatable rats and displayed signs proclaiming, “union buster.”
Both demonstrations were organized, in part, by the UTU’s Illinois State Legislative Office, Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy and the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.
In Wisconsin, Walker was an architect of legislation to curtail collective bargaining rights and weaken the organizing abilities of labor unions. He also rejected federal funds to build high-speed rail in Wisconsin, which cost Wisconsin hundreds of jobs. Because of grass roots efforts in Wisconsin by organized labor and its friends – funded in part by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund — Walker faces a recall election in June.
In Indiana, Daniels supported the recent passage by the state legislature of right-to-work (for less) legislation.
“Illinois UTU members were thrilled about the opportunity to gather with our brothers and sisters of labor to protest the appearance of governors who care more about business interests than the working families,” Guy said. “We sent strong messages to the two anti-union governors, as well as our Illinois lawmakers, that attacks on collective bargaining rights won’t work in Illinois.”
The Champaign rally included a workshop on the negative impact of right-to-work (for less) legislation on collective bargaining, and guidance on how union members should communicate the issue to their communities and fellow workers.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the architect of anti-union legislation in his state, faces a recall election in June. He becomes the first governor in Wisconsin history to face recall.
The UTU, through its Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, worked with other labor organizations, including the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, to obtain almost one million signatures forcing the recall election — almost twice as many as required.
The New York Times reports that, in the nation’s history, only two governors have been removed from office through recall votes: California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.
A former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush, C. Boyden Gray, was quoted that the Walker recall election “has national implications” as working families react to a string of attempts by conservatives in many states to restrict collective bargaining rights and limit the ability of labor unions to represent workers.
Also facing recall in June are Wisconsin Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three Republican state senators, all of whom supported the anti-union legislation; while a fourth resigned from office prior to facing a recall election. That vacant seat will be filled also in the June election.
In August 2011, two state senators who had supported Gov. Walker’s assault on collective bargaining rights were successfully recalled and replaced by more moderate lawmakers.
In 2011, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund was instrumental in overturning, at the ballot box, an Ohio law restricting collective bargaining rights.
Meanwhile, a federal court in March invalidated portions of the Wisconsin law – one provision requiring annual recertification of a union, and another denying workers the right to have union dues withheld from their paychecks. Both were found in violation of constitutional free speech rights.