Anatomy of a Cheese State union defeat

Labor's Last Stand coverA New York Times Magazine cover story in mid-June entitled “Labor’s Last Stand” discusses “Scott Walker and the dismantling of American unions.”

“In Wisconsin, where the labor movement took root a century ago,” said the June 14, 2015, article, “a four-year campaign by Gov. Scott Walker has broken its power. Now his political allies hope he can take a similar campaign nationwide.”

Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, has waged a war against public sector unions and successful removed their bargaining rights. The article examines his efforts to make the Cheese State a right-to-work state.

Gordon Lafer at the Labor Education and Research Center in Eugene notes in the article that “while right-to-work laws in other states had generated no identifiable economic gains, they did drive down wages for union and nonunion workers alike.” Or, as President Obama once said, it is the right to earn less.

Now that Walker has signed the bill into law, Obama has come out swinging. He told news media that “It’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government.”

The Times article concludes with a statement from Dave Poklinkoski, president of an electricians’ union local: “Wisconsin has become a kind of laboratory for oligarchs to implement their political and economic agenda,” he said. “We’re small enough that they can carry it out. Can they carry it out on the national level? We’ll find out.”