Amidst Threat Of Recall, Scott Walker Continues Attack On Workers
“almost all public employees on all levels of government – from teachers to librarians to state Capitol janitors – to contribute more to their health care and pensions. The changes amount to an average 8 percent pay cut. The bill also takes away almost all their collective bargaining powers, allowing them to negotiate only on wages.”
The Republican defense of the plan centered on the idea that it would help lower Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion deficit. What the bill really comprises is an attack on unions and labor rights, an attack 14 Democratic senators tried to prevent from being signed into law by leaving the state in a powerful, but unfortunately futile, attempt to block a vote. The Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill.
In response, several unions together filed a federal lawsuit “alleging the law violates the U.S. Constitution by taking away union powers to bargain, organize and associate”; the ruling of the court struck down parts of the bill. And, for the first time in United States history, nine senators – three Democrats and six Republicans – faced recall because of their positions on the bill. Now, Scott Walker is facing that same threat.
Only twice in United States history has a governor successfully been recalled. Governor Walker is up for recall this year, and tens of thousands of Wisconsinites and their supporters have been rallying at the capitol, advocating his removal.
Meanwhile, Walker has continued his anti-labor policy, recently repealing an equal pay law. Huffington Post reports:
“A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill.
“The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court."
Walker did not publicize his signature.
The repealing of this law is as much an attack on women’s rights as it is on worker’s rights:
“Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make. In Wisconsin, it's 75 cents, according to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH), which also estimates that families in the state ‘lose more than $4,000 per year due to unequal pay.’”
Two of Walker’s contenders in the recall election have criticized the governor for repealing this bill. A spokesman for one of them, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, stated:
“[Walker’s] ideological civil war includes a war on women, and repeal today of this protection against pay discrimination is a major step backwards for Wisconsin values and basic fairness.”
In the largest campaign calling for recall in United States history, United Wisconsin, the non-partisan Political Action Committee (PAC) leading the recall effort, collected over one million petition signatures between November 2011 and January 2012. If Walker keeps up his attack on workers’ rights, that number might just get bigger, and the chances of his being ousted from office might just grow to the point of certainty.
The tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting Walker’s policies, most of which were policies on which he did not campaign, have raised their voices against him, and will continue to protest his undemocratic rule. Walker did not run on a platform of outlawing collective bargaining and unions; he ran on “a moderate platform to create jobs and bring economic stability to Wisconsin.” The people put their trust in him, and he violated that trust by attacking their ability to work and live with dignity.
Upon hearing that one million signatures had been gathered to ensure Walker’s recall election, Kelly Steele, a strategist for We Are Wisconsin, which led the Senate recalls last summer, stated:
“Scott Walker lied his way into office, and has since launched unprecedented attacks on Wisconsin’s working families, dividing the state like never before…This historic recall is a million-strong victory for Wisconsinites united to take their government back from wealthy special interests who bought and paid for Scott Walker and are dictating the terms of his extreme agenda.”
As Walker continues his harsh policies of rolling back victories fought for and won by the people of the United States determined to protect workers and the middle class, the chances of his maintaining office become much lower, and the people’s chances for victory become ever greater.