Of course: Big labor puts a positive spin on WI recall results

posted at 2:06 pm on June 7, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

I suppose there isn’t really much else he can say — ‘Hey guys, the once-unassailable machine of big labor just took a huge beating’ isn’t really going to fly — but it’s just so pathetically, painfully transparent. The Wisconsin recall has got ‘em on the run, and they know it:

“Last night’s results were not what we had hoped for, but this was not the end of the story but rather the beginning,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest federation of unions, in a press call on Wednesday. …

Trumka, who was joined on the call by AFL-CIO political director Mike Podhorzer and Guy Molyneux of the polling firm Hart Research Associates, reiterated the difficulties faced by the Democrats in Wisconsin:  Walker’s fundraising advantage, the low favorability for recall elections in general. But ultimately, they said, the take-away from the recall was a positive one for labor.

“Even though a majority of voters said they believe recalls are only appropriate for misconduct, Walker needed every last dime and every last divisive TV ad to maintain a weakened hold on his office…. The new model that Wisconsin’s working families have built won’t go away, it will only grow,” said Trumka.

Whichever way Mr. Trumka tries to spin it, the reality is unions are likely in for a future of at least somewhat curtailed political clout — it only takes a spark. If it can happen in Wisconsin, more states may start looking to cutting benefits and bargaining rights from public-sector unions as a way to balance budgets, and it looks like overall union membership may be slackening a bit. The WSJ has more:

New figures show that membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—one of the nation’s largest and most politically powerful unions—is declining across the country. …

Afscme membership in Wisconsin fell 45% after a law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker made membership optional. While some of the decline was due to layoffs, much of it came after the state stopped collecting union dues from paychecks. …

Afscme saw membership drops in other states that are politically important and tend to be labor-friendly. In the 12 months ended in February, Ohio’s membership fell 8.5%, Pennsylvania’s dropped 3.4% and Michigan’s declined 11.7%. In California, membership rose 2%.

Coming public-sector union battles are expected in a range of states, including Michigan, New Hampshire, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In many cases, the initiatives aimed at trimming union rights or benefits wouldn’t be as far-reaching as Gov. Walker’s. Some political experts say that could help the new efforts pass more easily.


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