MADISON, Wis. – Last year, Wisconsinites reinvigorated the labor movement as they defied their union-busting governor. Last night, Wisconsinites voted to keep him in office. That result cements Wisconsin as the place that best captures both the vitality and the vulnerability of the current U.S. labor movement.
There’s much to mourn in last night’s result. What it reflects: the triumph of big money in politics and the traction of anti-union resentment. What it inspires: even more aggressive attacks from employers and politicians. What it cements: Public workers’ legal right to bargain will be anemic in Wisconsin for years.
At an election night party in Madison, the president of a New York union local told me Walker’s victory will inspire Gov. Cuomo to go even harder after his union. A Madison school nursing assistant told me it’ll drive her co-workers to leave the profession before their pensions are gutted. And people pondered why so many of their fellow citizens would side with a governor who’d promised to “divide and conquer” union members.