AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
says Gov. Scott Walker is “upset over 80 years of history” in Wisconsin, and he and other lawmakers seeking to limit workers’ rights will suffer electoral consequences.
“What Scott Walker did was take away the ability of teachers to bargain for smaller classrooms, for firefighters to bargain for better safety, for nurses to bargain for better healthcare,” Trumka said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “He upset over 80 years of history and collective bargaining in that state and, quite frankly, they did it in the middle of the night, which was a true affront to democracy and our rights.”
Host Joe Scarborough asked Trumka what fallout can be expected from enactment of the Wisconsin law curbing public unions.
“Here’s the fallout Joe – it’s not just union members: It’s non-union members, it’s small businessmen, it’s independents, it’s conservative Republicans,” the national union leader said. “They’re all saying this guy went too far, and so they are recoiling against him.
“He dropped like a rock in the polls, he went from 62 percent to 40 percent, and there’s recalls going on for a number of those senators – and in the first weekend, they got 25 percent of the signatures necessary for recall,” Trumka said. “So there’s an energy going on – he converted a moment into a movement.”
Scarborough asked how the AFL-CIO and Republicans can get together so the union umbrella is not seen as an extension of the Democratic Party in the next election.
“I’d love that – I’d love to have candidates that support working people,” Trumka said. “We support a number of Republicans: You know my personal history, what I’ve done, and candidates I’ve supported in the past – from both sides of the aisle.
“What we’re finding is, Republican candidates, becoming more, and more, and more extreme, and they don’t support working people,” he said. “I mean, how could we go to our members and say: ‘Oh, by the way, support Scott Walker and [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich, they’d be good for working people,” when they’re trying to destroy our ability – and workers’ ability – to bargain for a middle-class way of life.
“This isn’t just Governor Walker – this is a pretty concerted effort,” Trumka continued. “You got Kasich in Ohio … you got people all over the country that are going after students’ rights. You had a [state] senator in New Hampshire – a Republican senator, by the way – who said students shouldn’t be able to vote because they’re too liberal.
“Look, he [Walker] asked for concessions from those workers – they gave him those concessions – but that’s not what this was about,” he said. “It was about him paying back the people who spent over $1 billion – people like the Koch brothers. And, we’re seeing that in area after area.”
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