Chuck Sweeny - a Rockford Register Star reporter that I know from his days of covering the local Libertarian Party - gets to the heart of the goings on in Madison and explains why it is so critical for the unions to win against Governor Walker and the Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature.
But Democrats can’t compromise on ending collective bargaining rights, because that would weaken their party’s key political bloc. Democrats know that Walker’s gambit to break the unions is part of the national Republican strategy in the run up to the 2012 elections.Chuck thinks that the Republicans, who only need one Democrat to show up to pass their agenda, will fold in the face of union pressure. I don't think so. It costs real money to bus in all those protestors and keep them fed and housed. Every day Walker can keep the protesters on the street further weakens the Democrats for the next election.
What Chuck also leaves out is that recall elections can be called by petition in Wisconsin one year after a person is elected. All the Republicans have to do is collect about 25,000 signatures from a Senate District, get them verified, and six weeks later there will be an election. In a district that was barely won by a Democrat and with sentiment favoring the Governor there is a good chance that in 12 or 16 weeks Walker will have enough Senators to make a quorum and the unions will lose a LOT. Can he hold out that long? Walker has been in politics for a while and he has a reputation for not backing down. Time will tell.
As Chuck points out the Democrats depend on that union money to elect Democrats who will do the unions more favors so they can get their cut. But the marks are staring to wise up. My take is that the longer he holds out the stronger he will get. And he doesn't have to get everything to win. A couple of things would do it: yearly union elections and no automatic deduction of union dues. The last point alone would mean a raise of a few percent for those who didn't want to pay. In these hard times who wouldn't like a raise or even a smaller cut in pay?
Wisconsin is only the first battle. Ohio is next. Indiana is even going after private sector unions. And a labor leader emphasizes Chuck's point:
Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation's largest public-sector union, said the moves in various state capitals to target state employees were an explicit effort to undermine a key source of Democratic funds.That is quite a war chest. I think the Republicans would like to flatten it. I think they can.
"They know how much we spent in the last campaign," he said. "They're going to try and shoot us down."
The 1.6 million-member AFSCME last year tapped emergency accounts and took out loans as it poured more than $90 million into Democratic campaign efforts in the mid-term elections.
Overall, unions put around $400 million into the 2008 campaign to help elect Mr. Obama and other Democrats.
Cross Posted at Classical Values