Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won last night’s recall election despite union organizations from across the U.S. advocating for his recall. Walker had been serving as Wisconsin’s governor since January 2011. What does Walker’s win say about the future of collective bargaining rights for other states’ workers?
Walker faced public scrutiny after his effort to balance Wisconsin’s budget met extreme disapproval from the citizens of Wisconsin. He passed Senate Bill 11 which clearly states: “this bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages.” The collective bargaining rights Walker took away from employees and unions prompted the recall election. A recall election for a state’s Governor is not easy to come by. Organizers of the recall effort had to collect 540,208 valid signatures within 60 days of the bill’s passage. Protestors and activists collected more than 900,000 signatures—far above the required amount—showing how concerned they were about the issue.
Governor Walker’s move to strip Wisconsin’s public employees of their collective bargaining rights poses a threat to unions across the country. If these rights are taken away, employees lose their right to fight for fair wages, benefits, healthcare and other issues.
It’s clear here. The power the government holds to enable or disable this type of action is startling.
With Walker’s win, it is unclear what the public actually wants. Protests over the loss of collective bargaining rights prompted a recall election, yet Walker survived the vote.
Fortunately, there have been success stories in other states where union rights have come under attack. Last year, the citizens of Ohio voted to repeal Senate Bill 5, a law that would have limited or ended collective bargaining rights for many public employees.
It is unlikely that Governor Corbett would actively work to rescind collective bargaining rights for Pennsylvania’s public employees, but he has said publicly that he would sign so-called “right to work” legislation if it passed the General Assembly.
We need to ensure that Governor Corbett does not follow in Walker’s footsteps.