IBEW Hits the Ground for Recall of Wis. Gov. Walker
November 22, 2011
The overwhelming 61-percent vote in favor of an Election Day referendum in Ohio that overturned Gov. John Kasich’s bill restricting collective bargaining for public employees inspired workers all over the U.S.
But nowhere were workers more excited than in Wisconsin, where, this year, Republican Gov. Scott Walker succeeded in pushing through an anti-collective bargaining measure despite a walkout of Democratic state senators and a recall effort that removed two supporters of the bill from public office.
On Nov. 15, labor and community activists in Wisconsin launched a petition campaign to recall Walker with a splash of creative tactics that drew widespread media coverage. The campaign follows an overwhelming vote by building trades crafts who work in the public sector to recertify their unions. Recertification votes were one of the requirements of Walker’s anti-collective bargaining measure.
From a midnight pajama party in a Madison bar to a rally in front of Walker’s home, volunteers , many of them part of coalitions We Are Wisconsin and United Wisconsin, launched a signature-gathering effort to put Walker’s recall before the voters next year. They have 60 days to gather some 540,000 signatures. Also targeted in the petition campaign will be Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who was elected with the support of the Tea Party.
Along with Walker’s assault on collective bargaining, Wisconsin voters are also upset at his drastic budget cuts and lack of job creation. Under Walker, Wisconsin runs last in economic recovery in the Midwest. Says Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale:
At a November 19 kickoff rally for the recall campaign on the state capitol’s steps, petitioners will also be collecting food in a “can Walker” food drive to benefit area food pantries.
Wisconsin IBEW Political Coordinator Dave Boetcher says IBEW local union activists are downloading petitions from Web sites to circulate among their neighbors. Fifty thousand names have already been gathered. While polling shows high unfavorable ratings for Walker, anti-union money is pouring into his campaign against the recall and candidates are able to spend unlimited funds on recall campaigns. Says Boethcher:
Six unions held recertification votes under the new collective bargaining law. The Wisconsin State Building Trades Crafts represent over 400 members statewide, including electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers, painters, carpenters, welders and more.
The members of the WSBTC voted to maintain their union in a strong show of solidarity and support for the value of being in a union. Seventy-five percent of the eligible members voted in the election and 97 percent of them voted for their union. Says Mark Hoffman, chairman of the WSBTC and business manager of Madison Local 159: