Wisconsin has been ground zero for some controversial and unprecedented labor disputes in recent years. Governor Scott Walker, one of the leading GOP frontrunners for 2016, garnered both national acclaim and scorn in 2011 when he helped pass a bill that took power away from the state’s public sector unions. Though he has expressed a desire to stay out of any further fights against organized labor, Walker finds himself once again in the spotlight as the Wisconsin state Senate passes a right-to-work bill.
The bill, now being sent to the Republican-controlled state Assembly for final approval, relieves workers of the obligation to pay mandatory union dues. Supporters say it will help Wisconsin attract businesses to the area. Detractors say it’s nothing more than Republicans trying to weaken the typically pro-Democrat unions.
Walker himself reluctantly trudged back into the fray on Friday, releasing a statement in support of the bill. The statement said that Walker was focused on other priorities, but conceded that if the bill wound up on his desk, he would be more than happy to sign it.
A Strong Conservative
Walker’s anti-union philosophy makes him just the kind of conservative who deserves to be in the White House. Taking on Big Labor is no mean feat. This country’s unions are politically entrenched, powerful, monied, and dangerous. By going head to head with them, Walker risked his entire political career. He survived a recall, proving that there are enough Americans – in Wisconsin, at least – who understand the kind of damage unions are doing to this country.
There was a time when unions made sense. Employers exploited their workforce in the absence of workplace safety laws, exposing them to inhumane hours, dreadful pay, and dangerous conditions. Unions formed to give a voice to the little guy. In doing so, they helped transform American employment conditions.
But their time has come and gone. We have laws in place that prevent that kind of exploitation today. Now it is the unions themselves that are the exploiters. With so much power in politics, they have managed to not only destroy individual businesses but whole industries. They were largely responsible for the collapse of the auto industry, placing unrealistic financial demands on companies like GM and Chrysler.
The real problem comes when workers are forced to join a union just to get hired. This is what Wisconsin’s right-to-work bill is meant to subvert. Such a scenario is undemocratic and unfair. Insidiously, it means that conservative union members must essentially fund their political enemies; you’ll have to dig deep to find a labor union that supports Republicans.
At their core, unions are the antithesis of the free market. They are America’s most respected thugs, and it’s time for them to go. That Scott Walker has the guts and the skill to outmaneuver them makes him all the more promising as a GOP presidential candidate.