Scott Walker throws Hail Mary, calls for banning public sector unions and abolishing NLRB

Five months ago, back when his campaign wasn’t in shambles, Scott Walker assured voters that his cruel and unusual union-busting plan in Wisconsin would stay in Wisconsin, calling it a “state issue“:

Not anymore. Now that Walker is polling at under five percent nationwide, he’s got to start throwing some Hail Marys. And since waffling on birthright citizenship and refusing to say anything about Syrian refugees won’t cut it, he’s going with what he knows best, releasing a white paper earlier today that would eliminate public sector unions and the National Labor Relations Board, along with enacting nationwide “Right to Work” legislation that would cripple workers’ ability to collectively bargain by letting workers to opt out of union membership, both allowing them to free-ride on union representation while diluting the power of the union itself.

Bear in mind, despite Walker’s description of the NLRB as “a one-sided advocate for big labor special interests,” it’s anything but. Case in point: One of its most recent rulings of consequence overturned a prior decision that had allowed college football players to unionize, using legal arguments that made absolutely no sense. So it isn’t as if the board is a haven for socialist bureaucrats; they’re more than willing to look out for the interests of capital when it suits them.

What’s more, by calling for nationwide “Right to Work” for both private and public sector unions — which in the context of his plan seems redundant, given that it outlaws public sector unions to begin with — Walker undermines the entire premise of collective bargaining. Nationwide “Right to Work” would be, for all intents and purposes, an end to unions, period. He might as well have just come out and said that.

And while ending American collective bargaining rights as we know them may play well with Walker’s financiers, it puts him squarely on the wrong side of American public opinion. While support for unions is lower than it was in previous decades a solid majority of Americans view them favorably:

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What’s more, there’s no reason to believe that the Republican voters Walker desperately needs to win from Donald Trump actually hate unions as much as he does. After all, they’re more than happy to reject Republican orthodoxy on taxes and health insurance as long as Donald Trump says it’s okay. These lower-income, non-college educated white voters are plenty populist on economic issues, and their disapproval of unions isn’t as strong as one might expect. The voters Scott Walker thought he’d have wrapped up by now didn’t flock to Donald Trump because of his fluency in Cato Institute-endorsed economics; they flocked to him for his overt racism. And they stayed for his economic populism and anti-establishmentarianism.

This being the case, Walker’s plan doesn’t make much political sense in the context of the primary of general elections. The only good reason for Walker to double down on a plan to be a jerk to unions is that it’s what he’s best at; it’s where he can draw distinctions between himself and the rest of the field. He can’t beat Trump at his own game — sticking it to immigrants — so he’s got to remind the Republican base that when it comes to sticking it to workers, no one’s got him beat.

It’s a desperate strategy, but it may be all he has left.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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38 Responses to “Scott Walker throws Hail Mary, calls for banning public sector unions and abolishing NLRB”

  1. Norn Cutson says:

    It doesn’t matter what he says; America has seen his dopey-ass face and they wouldn’t trust him to mop a floor.

  2. ComradeRutherford says:

    “They should not for example have anything to do with pensions or health insurance.”

    That’s insane. If my union didn’t provide pensions and health insurance, no one would have them (until the ACA came along which made the health insurance not needed).

    You don’t believe people should be allowed to retire.

  3. ComradeRutherford says:

    He could out-trump Trump by saying he will round up all 11 million ‘illegals’ and have them executed on Fox ‘News’. That would get him a huge lift in the GOP polls.

  4. ComradeRutherford says:

    Walker: If elected I will outlaw the middle class, end overtime pay and weekends, and order everyone to work 100 hours a week for $1 a day, or go to a for-profit-prison where they will work until they die of exhaustion or starvation.

    Remember the Walker motto: Work makes you free!

  5. mhollis says:

    His position on the police unions would be exactly the same as it was when he was running for Governor. He favored them, because they responded to his law-and-order message in Wisconsin. Then, as soon as he had finished taking down the teachers’ unions, he went after the police unions.

  6. Eebadee-eebadee-thatsallfolks says:

    He’s so far down in the polls that he needs to go really big to win over GOP primary voters, something like banning black people or banning all books that aren’t the Bible, or maybe a law requiring all women to be constantly pregnant between the ages of 18 and 35. Or maybe if he just gets up at a podium and twists the heads off small animals – that ought to get him at least an 8 or 9 point bump with GOP primary voters.

  7. Houndentenor says:

    A few months ago, before Trump emerged, I seriously thought Walker would be the nominee. Instead his campaign seems to have stalled and I don’t think there’s anything here that helps him. He still has Koch Brothers money so he won’t have to drop out any time soon. (It’s lack of money, not poor polling that causes candidates to fold.)

  8. The_Fixer says:

    I think that the GOP has been not much more mean-spirited than they were in the past – just not as good at hiding it. The fact that

    Nixon and Agnew had the “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism” and the filthy hippies on his case, they were his foils (along with those on his famous “enemies list”). But he did not refine the technique, like others after him.

    Reagan was skilled at using a foil (or foils) to advance the GOP anti-populist message. He was as anti-union as Scott Walker, but he and his handlers were far more skilled at creating bogeymen than Walker will ever be. Evidence the killing of the air traffic controller’s union.

    Then there was the infamous “Welfare Queen” episode. This was a far more complex story than was presented at the time, and not told very frequently since. Reagan’s team successfully distilled it down to a woman who drove to the welfare office in her Cadillac, which, it was implied, was paid for by taxpayers. The rest of the story was that this woman was a garden-variety crook (albeit a skilled one) who ripped off anyone that she possibly could rip off (and she was a lot crazy, too).

    The most interesting bogeyman that the GOP has created, though, is the government itself. Walker is carrying on that tradition; his speeches are peppered with promises to cut the influence of “big government special interests.” Funny how, with the government being so evil, they want to be part of it in the worst way.

    Thankfully, it appears that Walker will not get a chance to show the rest of the country how much he hates them. He’ll be back in Wisconsin, where we will have to deal with him – unless one of the investigations bears fruit and he is ejected from the governor’s mansion into a nice, privately run prison.

  9. noGOP says:

    and his position on POLICE unions would be….?

  10. BeccaM says:

    Could be. Still love your poster though. Very apropos. :-)

  11. Indigo says:

    That should definitely be the traditional practice with all politicians.

  12. Indigo says:

    I see your point, the current expression of GOP values is based on the austerity pattern. I wonder if they are consciously echoing Frau Angela Merkel.

  13. BeccaM says:

    The age of rampant union corruption came to an end when the Feds got serious about going after worst abuses using the RICO anti-racketeering laws. By time Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in ’75, and both the Teamsters and AFL/CIO underwent significant organizational reforms, it was all but over.

    But that hasn’t stopped the plutocrats and the Republicans from continuing to bash unions and organized labor. They want a system where the workers are powerless and all of the power is entirely in the hands of the corporations and their owners.

    Labor, government, and corporations makes for a good ‘separation of economic powers’ and contributed to the largest peacetime economic expansion in America’s history. Then the corporations took over the government, eviscerated the unions…and now nearly all economic growth and productivity gains goes directly to the wealthiest 0.1%, while wages and benefits have stagnated and declined.

  14. angryspittle says:

    It may be seriously juvenile and impolite but I cannot agree that it is unfair.

  15. BeccaM says:

    Yep, you got it. And actually about Walker and private for-profit prisons? He built his political career on them.


    I’d say he’s neck-deep in the whole ‘chain-gang’ compelled-labor thing, too.

  16. emjayay says:

    Unions in the US do have some elements of well deserved bad rep, mostly for long ago offenses. It would be a good idea to see how they work in a unionized country like Germany and make some reforms. It would be doing the union movement a favor. They should not for example have anything to do with pensions or health insurance. I’m sure there are a lot of other reforms they might scream about that would eventually make “union boss” a non-epithet.

  17. Zorba says:

    Oy! I should have known.
    So the only thing left is the re-institution of indentured servitude/slavery.
    Oh, wait, we already have that, although it wasn’t suggested by Scott Walker.
    It’s called inmate labor, and many corporations increasingly use it, because the inmates receive “wages” similar to, or even lower than, workers in the Third World, so it maximizes corporate profits.
    And if inmates refuse to participate, they are disciplined.
    The government uses this slave labor, as well.

  18. emjayay says:

    Yes, he was all about Morning In America. Thank you, Hal Rainey.

  19. emjayay says:

    Well, we do know that he dropped out of college after some kind of student election violation.

  20. emjayay says:

    That’s seriously juvenile and impolite and unfair. I gave it an up vote anyway.

  21. BeccaM says:

    I don’t think I’d agree. Reagan always couched his regressive policies in lies about how he’d make things better for regular folks. They were lies, sure, but not stuff like, “Americans need to work harder” and so on. Back in Reagan’s day, Social Security and Medicare cuts were something the GOPers did after they were elected and only when the next election was well down the road. It was considered the proverbial “third rail” of American politics.

    Now? Bush and Christie and most of ’em are flat out announcing their intentions to cut benefits and raise the retirement eligibility ages, as if they think voters will like them for it. This kind of stuff isn’t even popular among conservatives.

    All I can figure is the GOP Powers That Be have been living in their rarefied bubble for so very long, they are incapable of recognizing popular versus unpopular.

  22. Silver_Witch says:

    Don’t forget that there are those who believe that the world should not have unions, the religious extremists want us to be without the protection of those like us.

  23. Silver_Witch says:

    I suspect Walker will not lead in the polls. He will raise above the Trump and be hailed the savior of America. How horribly sad and a wee bit frightening.

  24. angryspittle says:

    This half witted, droopy eyed syphilitic douchnozzle is such a loser.

  25. BeccaM says:

    I don’t think any of the Republican candidates realize this. All of the top-runners (and nearly all of the also-rans) have openly declared they plan to rule America as a lawless, autocratic dictator.

  26. 2karmanot says:

    Thank gawd somebody at the funeral parlor placed a discreet clove of garlic in the coffin just before it was lowered.

  27. Indigo says:

    Maybe not. He doesn’t seem to have a grasp of 8th grade civics. Hearing what he has to say, it sounds more like what he learned in school was mostly bully tactics. I can’t help but wonder about his policy on milk money, lunch money, and protection money back then.

  28. Indigo says:

    It worked for Ronald Reagan.

  29. Indigo says:

    Even better.

  30. nicho says:

    He does realize he’s not running for emperor. Doesn’t he?

  31. nicho says:

    Or to theology.

  32. BeccaM says:

    A non-desperate politician attempts to pander to his supporters while remaining neutral or otherwise dog-whistling so those who wouldn’t normally vote for him won’t get worked up. Walker, on the other hand, has exactly one message for workers and for labor in general: An upraised middle finger.

    One of the many things I find weird about this current election cycle is how nearly all of the GOPer would-be presidential candidates are peddling openly anti-populist and aggressively mean-spirited messages. From abolishing Social Security/Medicare to gutting pensions to repealing the PPACA (and returning to the previous status quo, only worse) to telling average Americans the problem is the proles aren’t working hard enough — it’s like their only message is, “Vote for me, fuck all of you, and you morons will thank me for it.”

    The only one of the GOPers who seems to understand you don’t make your ‘bread and circuses’ all about poisoned slop and snuff-shows is Trump. Even though he’s a rank fascist, he seems to be the only one of the GOPer candidates to realize that whatever your positions, you don’t tell everyone your single-minded goal in running for office is to make their lives more desperate and miserable.

  33. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Yes, he is a pathetic lap dog to the Kochs, but I cannot imagine what the the United States would be like without unions.

  34. BeccaM says:

    He already did the minimum wage thing back in mid-July.

    And his current proposals do include eliminating the overtime pay provisions recently ordered by the Obama administration.

  35. Kelly R Burnett says:

    The crosseyed dik has “0” chance………………lol, flap those gums loser!!!!!

  36. Indigo says:

    How about we leave theological football metaphors to football?

  37. Zorba says:

    Next up: Scott Walker promises to eliminate the minimum wage and end overtime pay.

  38. Butch1 says:

    One hopes for a huge fumble.

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