Richard Trumka came to Milwaukee Tuesday to fire up labor activists and tear into Gov. Scott Walker.
The national president of the AFL-CIO used his address at the group’s state convention to portray Walker as a “little puppet” of the billionaire Koch brothers.
Walker, the two-term Republican governor whose Act 10 crippled organized labor in 2011, faces Democrat Tony Evers in the fall.
“On November 6 we’re going to have one hell of a party — a Scott Walker retirement party,” Trumka said.
He indicated that the party would see labor gather at a union hotel and thank Walker for bringing it together.
“And then we’re going to put his sorry ass on a bus and send him back to Koch land where he belongs,” Trumka said.
Trumka also pushed back at Walker’s accusation that Evers is being “bought and paid for by the unions.”
Trumka said Evers will “represent workers” to try to raise wages and make sure people are employed.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Trumka reflected on labor’s recent history in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has become a key battleground as Republicans in the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker enacted Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public-sector workers.
Since then, Wisconsin became a right-to-work state and the state’s prevailing wage laws were dialed back.
“I think Wisconsin was probably the first great overreach that spawned a renaissance, the comeback,” Trumka said.
He said in recent years there has been an “explosion of collective action” in the country, including statewide teacher strikes in West Virginia, Arizona and Oklahoma, the rise of the Me Too movement and Black Lives Matter.
Asked why labor and Democrats can beat Walker this fall, when they failed to beat him in the 2012 recall and 2014 election, Trumka said: “Because he’s run out of excuses. People understand who he is and who he works for. They know he doesn’t work for the good of the average citizens in Wisconsin.”
“If you’re in the top 1 percent, that’s your guy,” Trumka said. “Vote for him, support him. They’re going to try and get him elected. They’re going to pour millions of dollars to try and protect their investment. He’s their investment. The average worker is saying, ‘it ain’t working for us Scott.’ “
Trumka said the AFL-CIO is organizing in Wisconsin and elsewhere to make “member to member” contacts to get people to the polls to support labor-backed members.
He’s optimistic about the fall election in Wisconsin, noting a string of special election victories by Democrats in legislative races.
“Working people are saying to this state, ‘you’re going in the wrong direction. We want a different direction,’ ” he said.
Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, sought to downplay Trumka’s comments.
“It’s no surprise that big-government union bosses are propping up Tony Evers because he would put them back in charge of state government and take Wisconsin back to the days of massive tax hikes, billion-dollar budget deficits, and record job losses,” Zimmerman said in a statement.
He added: “Thanks to Scott Walker’s reforms, taxpayers are back in charge, our state’s unemployment has been at or below three percent for seven consecutive months, we’re making historic investments in our classrooms, and taxes have been cut by over $8 billion.”
By: Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 12:58 p.m. CT Sept. 25, 2018 |
Article Photo: (Photo: Bill Glauber) (Photo: Bill Glauber)