The Union Fight You Might Not Have Been Watching
The fight around Wisconsin's public employee unions has in the national spotlight frequently over the last 18 months—culminating in Governor Scott Walker defeating an effort to recall him from office. But while most were at least a little familiar with the Badger State's turmoil around the right to organize and collectively bargain, few have watched the unfolding drama in Maine, where Governor Paul LePage has courted controversy in his discussion of the state's unions.
The governor made headlines a year ago when he removed a mural, deemed too favorable to unions, from the side of the state's Department of Labor building. (In March, a federal judge ruled in favor of LePage's decision.) But the art was only the beginning.
Not only did the remarks rile the union leaders, but, as many local media noted, two GOP lawmakers also spoke out to defend state workers. LePage even sent a letter himself, clarifying the remarks to say that "some employees ... had been corrupted by bureaucracy." The note was far from an apology. "If you are dragging your feet because you do not like the direction the Administration is headed, then it is time to either get on board or get out of the way," LePage wrote.
The results in Wisconsin will likely offer a game plan to other anti-union governors, showing they can count on the national GOP establishment to back them up. Maine may well become a state to watch as public employee unions in particular get targeted.
According to Waterville's Morning Sentinel, when asked about the Wisconsin results, LePage said, in a fake Jamaican accent, "Yah, mon!"
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