The Electrical Worker online
October 2015

Scott Walker Vows to Spread his
Union-Busting Policies Nationwide
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Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker declared all-out war on unions at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas on Monday, Sept. 14.

The famously anti-union Wisconsin governor unveiled a set of proposals designed to roll back decades of labor law, including scrapping all federal government employee unions, eliminating the National Labor Relations Board and making right-to-work the law of the land unless individual states opt out.

"He has been a disaster for working people in Wisconsin," said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, "and now he is trying to inflict the same pain on working people across America. And even if Scott Walker isn't his party's nominee, it's telling that not a single one of his fellow Republicans has had the courage to call this policy what it really is — a direct attack on working people and on the American middle class."

Ann Hodges, a professor at the University of Richmond who has studied labor law for more than 40 years, called Walker's proposals "draconian," telling the Associated Press, "This will take the breath away from anyone who's worked in labor relations for any length of time."

In addition to the top-line proposals, Walker also pushed a plan to make organizing more difficult, blocking union officials' access to employee information like phone numbers and banning the automatic withdrawal of union dues for any political activity.

Walker first gained national attention during a protracted fight with unions less than two months into his first term as governor, where he effectively ended collective-bargaining rights for state employees despite a huge outcry from Democrats and working people of all stripes.

Embraced by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and their affiliated organizations, he successfully fought off a recall election in 2012 and won re-election in 2014.

"He made it almost illegal to be a union member in Wisconsin," said Milwaukee Local 715 Business Manager Mark Biedenbender, who saw an entire bargaining unit at a local PBS station wiped out. "To take his Wisconsin policies national would just be devastating."

After Walker's announcement, Denis Hamill, the son of a longtime Local 3 member told the story of his immigrant father's life-changing induction into the IBEW brotherhood in the early 1960's.

In a moving piece printed in the New York Daily News, Hamill says:

"My father's union rewrote the life story of my family. The year after my father became a Local 3 man, we had our first-ever vacation, in a bungalow in Keansburg, N.J. The brotherhood of my dad's union lifted my family out of tenements and housing projects into the middle class. Before every Thanksgiving dinner, my father would look over the bounty and raise a toast to 'Local 3 President Harry Van Arsdale Jr.'

"So when I hear a clown like Scott Walker promising to bust unions from sea to shining sea, I see a guy who wants to send American middle-class workers back to the sweatshop and into a two-tiered nation of haves and have-nots."


Pro-labor protestors campaign to remove Scott Walker from office in 2012. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO