Scott Walker Pledges All-Out Assault on Workers and Unions
Scott Walker's presidential bid is faltering and flailing, so he's going back to what first raised him to national notice as governor of Wisconsin: attacking workers and their unions. If he makes it all the way to the general election, we may never see him release another policy plan this comprehensive—especially when you consider that he thinks domestic union-busting also counts as foreign policy. Walker is proposing a virtual wipe-out of union rights and any advances for workers under President Obama. His proposal would:
- Repeal President Obama's orders improving pay and conditions for workers including the millions of additional workers Obama is making eligible for overtime pay and things like paid leave for federal contract workers.
- Pass a national version of so-called "right to work," the anti-union law that allows workers to claim the benefits of union representation without paying their share, forcing their union co-workers to cover them.
- Outlaw federal worker unions. And if he doesn't succeed at making them illegal, he'll make it more difficult for them to spend money on politics. Similarly, he'd erect obstacles to state unions having money to spend on politics.
- Kill the National Labor Relations Board, which is charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. Walker may perhaps be forgetting that Republican presidents like George W. Bush have used the NLRB against unions. Or else it's easier to say "I'll eliminate it" than "I'll use it to strengthen the hand of abusive employers."
- Require "periodic" union reauthorization votes. Right now, if workers are dissatisfied with their union they can get a decertification vote, but Walker would flip that so that unions constantly had to be organizing to win internal votes rather than focusing on pushing the boss for a better contract.
And those are just the highlights of Walker's plan for an all-out assault on unions and workers. It's a series of attacks on workers' ability to join together to build power, designed to fragment the workforce into individuals with no leverage to improve their work lives. It's also a sign of desperate from Walker. This is not how he's campaigned in the past, when he's been winning:
Walker in 2010 campaigned on making public workers pay more for their benefits, but not on otherwise interfering with collective bargaining.
In his 2014 re-election bid, he repeatedly said efforts to pass a right-to-work law and curtail the state's prevailing wage law would be a distraction — at one point pledging to do everything in his power to keep the right-to-work law from getting to his desk. This year, prodded by conservative lawmakers, he signed both pieces of legislation.
Walker has always hid his most extreme plans until now, knowing they wouldn't play well with general election voters. But now that he has to win over Republican primary voters—and is failing at it—he's putting it all out there, making sure we know just what a viciously anti-worker president he dreams of being.