- Views & Opinions
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said this week that he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about how the White House can implement on a federal level parts of the Republican governor’s contentious measure that all-but eliminated collective bargaining for public sector unions in the state.
Pence, when he was governor of Indiana, frequently sparred with public employee unions and only awarded pay increases to state workers who received positive performance reviews.
And President Donald Trump has talked about wanting to weaken collective bargaining protections for federal workers.
Walker’s claim to conservative fame is he severely restricted union power in the state.
The Wisconsin law passed in 2011 barred collective bargaining over working conditions or pay increases greater than inflation, for most public workers while requiring them to pay more for health care and pension benefits.
The fight over its passage led to protests as large as 100,000 people and Walker’s recall election in 2012, which he won. Walker was the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt.
Now the governor is talking with those in the Trump administration about “how they may take bits and pieces of what we did” with the union law and civil service reform and “apply it at the national level.”
“It’s something the vice president has brought up before,” Walker told reporters following a speech in Wauwatosa.
The AP reports that union membership in Wisconsin has dropped 40 percent since the law passed. In 2016, 8 percent of Wisconsin’s public and private-sector workers were in a union, below the national average of 10.7 percent.
“I don’t think that the model that Scott Walker has put forward is a model for success,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “That’s the model that the Koch Brothers have tried to spread everywhere.”
Charles and his brother David Koch operate one of the most powerful conservative groups in the nation and have supported efforts across the country to curtail union rights.
Trumka said collective bargaining is the best way to ensure workers get fair wages.
“If you’re going to get workers a raise you have to give them the right to collective bargaining unless you’re willing to impose a straightjacketed minimum wage on everybody,” Trumka said.