In the ultimate sign of a temper tantrum, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) has threatened the jobs of 1,500 state workers if his plan to crush labor unions is not approved by tomorrow. Democratic lawmakers in the state walked out two weeks ago as tens of thousands of protesters have decried the plan that would strip collective bargaining rights from public employees. The public employees have already agreed to pay more towards health care and pension benefits, but Walker will not have any of it. He is dead set on destroying the unions.
Walker has refused to negotiate or form a compromise position, even after the unions said that they would offer concessions. Part of collective bargaining is that both sides given and take. Walker is coming from the position that he will get everything that he wants or else people will start to lose their jobs. The most amazing thing about this is that his plan was never discussed during last fall’s election, even though he has repeatedly lied in interviews saying that it was. As the non-partisan PolitiFact rates his claim of having campaigned on the issue as purely “false”.
Not only did he not campaign on the issue, but Walker’s position is extremely unpopular with the public at large. Poll after poll has shown that voters support the unions over the governor. An NBC News poll asked the question: “Do you think public employees who belong to a union and work for state government, city government, or a school district should have the same right to bargain when it comes to their health care, pension and other benefits as employees who belong to a union and work for private companies?” The results are unbelievable:
Yes – 77%
No – 19%
Not sure – 4%
Granted, the poll was taken from a nationwide sample. It is safe to assume that Wisconsin, as one of the more union-friendly states, probably has even higher levels of support for the unions than the nation at large. The support for the unions in this issue breaks party lines. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly back the right to collectively bargain. Even some Republicans have to support it, since their share of the electorate is greater than the 19% that oppose collective bargaining rights. The opinion of the public is unambiguous: they do not want union-busting to take place. Governor Walker has over-stepped his bounds by trying to destroy a political foe of his in the name of deficit reduction. The American people do not want any part of it.