Public Employee Union Endorse (And Help) The Guy Who Supports Dictators

It's no secret that times are tough for public employees unions and that such groups need to foster support wherever they can. But in the effort to get pro-labor candidates into office, there may need to be some limits. For instance, regardless of his stances on workers' rights, one would assume unions would shy away from openly supporting a New York city councilman who's known largely for his support of human-rights-flouting dictators Robert Mugabe and Muammar Qaddafi—let alone spending money to campaign for him.


But that assumption would be incorrect.

Wisconsin Recall: A Conservative Case for Election Day Registration

(Flickr/Katri Niemi)

As the nation waited for the Wisconsin recall results to come in, Twitter began to light up with conservative claims of voter fraud. "Please @ me with any stories of #WI #WIrecall voter fraud," tweeted conservative radio host and pundit Dana Loesch around 11 a.m.  She noted stories on busing voters in across state lines and on supposedly suspicious high turn-out rates. "It's not 'fraud' if you didn't cheat enough to rob voters of the lawmakers they choose," she wrote. 

Others joined in. 

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 Ongoing Triumph of Radical Individualism

A figure from a bygone era.

Scott Walker's victory in the Wisconsin recall has been gleefully hailed on the right as a death knell for American unions, and while that may be an exaggeration, there's no doubt that the labor movement is in a long and perhaps inexorable decline. How did it happen? One answer is that conservatives have of late found increasing success in a tactic they've used for decades: getting non-unionized workers to resent unionized workers for the better pay, benefits, and working conditions that unionized workers have used collective bargaining to obtain. This is only possible if you convince people to see everyone around them as not potential allies but as competitors in a zero-sum contest. Rich Yeselson offers a story about watching William Winpisinger, the head of the machinists' union, on television 30 years ago:

AFL-CIO Tries to Claim Some Victories in Wisconsin

(Flickr/Sue Peacock)

After Governor Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin last night, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka decided to walk a strange line on today's press call. WaPo's The Fix has a post arguing that the call was about distancing the union from the recall effort, but to me the union president seemed eager to point to victories—a strange tactic in the face of a devastating loss.

Just How Hard Was It to Vote In Wisconsin?

(Flickr/Katri Niemi)

Last night's Wisconsin recall resulted in more than just Governor Scott Walker's re-election. It also showed the tremendous difficulties some voters in the state faced simply trying to cast their ballot. While Wisconsin has had same-day registration since 2006, which helps more people get to vote, the state passed a controversial photo-ID law last year that put up new barriers. The most stringent part of the law—requiring residents to show a form of photo-ID—is not in effect thanks to a court injunction, but other elements of the law came into play yesterday as new and old voters arrived at their polling places. 

Wisconsin's Not-So-Silver Lining


Around 1 a.m. Wednesday night, while most of Wisconsin's recall activists coped with their candidate's decisive loss, around 30 supporters in Racine cheered as John Lehman declared victory in a state Senate race. Taking the seat gives the Democrats control of the state Senate, which was split 16-16 with one vacancy. However, Lehman's opponent, Republican Van Wanggaard, has yet to concede. It's hard to blame him. The margin of victory—less than 800 votes—practically ensures a recount. 

A Wisconsin Domino Effect?

(AP/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

While hardly surprising to anyone who read the polls, yesterday’s victory by Republican Governor Scott Walker was a body blow to Wisconsin unions and to American workers. Within Wisconsin, Walker’s victory ensures that his law repealing collective-bargaining rights for public employees will stay on the books, and if Republicans maintain their hold on the state senate—four of their senators faced recall elections, and as I write this at least three have survived—they will, at least in theory, be able to go forward on other parts of their Social Darwinist agenda. Whether they will—and whether they opt to go after private-sector unions, too, with right-to-work legislation—remains unclear. Such a move on Walker’s part, coming on the heels of the most divisive 18 months in the state’s history, would only escalate what is already a political civil war. Even Walker may think it the better part of valor to pass on that for now.

Despite Predictions, Turnout Looks Good and Recall Activists Are Flying High

(Flickr/Sue Peacock)

"I'm pretty confident that Walker's going to go," Roberta Retrum told me last night. "I know what I hear from the people on the ground. I know how much support there is here for getting rid of Walker." Retrum, a grandmother and recall activist who's decided to run for state Assembly in November, lives in the small conservative town of Eagle River. Her confidence was seemed well meaning, but I had my doubts. After all, to have a shot at beating Walker, recall activists need turnout numbers like those during the 2008 presidential election.

An Uphill Battle in Wisconsin

(Flickr/Katri Niemi)

If Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is indeed recalled today, it will be an unexpected upset for his supporters. 

The Other Wisconsin Recall

While the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has received gads of attention, most people don't know there are a variety of other recall races tomorrow—including four for state Senate. Today, Mother Jones has a nice profile of Democratic challenger Lori Compas, who's running as an alternative to Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican and a Walker supporter.

No Slam Dunk in Wisconsin

We don’t know the outcome of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, of course, but we do know this: Even if labor somehow manages to oust Republican Governor Scott Walker, the result will be nothing like the resounding repudiation that Ohio voters delivered last year in repealing that state’s anti-collective bargaining law pushed by an equally controversial GOP governor, John Kasich. 

Win or Lose, Walker Recall Was No Mistake

(Flickr/ Lost Albatross)

Tomorrow, after more than a year watching the Wisconsin saga unfold, the nation will see whether Governor Scott Walker stays or goes. Nationally, Democrats haven't been outspoken in their support of the recall effort—in May, the DNC took heat for not supporting activists and just this weekend, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told MSNBC he though the recall was a "mistake" since Walker admitted he should have sold his anti-union policies in a more conciliatory fashion.  

Are the Winds Shifting Towards Wisconsin Democrats?

(Flickr/ Lost Albatross)

There's been quite a bit of bad news for the recall activists hoping to oust Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A close primary at the beginning of the month divided party supporters and muddied the unified front activists formed when they collected over a million signatures to prompt the recall. Then there was the money—Walker spent much of 2012 testing his stump speech with out-of-state voters.