Scott Walker's Big Gamble

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 18 2011 4:34 PM

Scott Walker's Big Gamble

I was just on Dylan Ratigan's show, where Harold Myerson gave the right answer to a good question: Why aren't unions up in arms about the pension reforms proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Ca., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY?

Well, they sort of are. New York State United Teachers are buying up ad time to oppose Cuomo's cuts to the school budget. But in the state with the most union members, and the state with the highest proportion of unionized workers, the unions are mostly holding their power. And that's because unlike Scott Walker, the Democratic governors are limiting their reforms to pensions and other items relevant to the budget. Walker is doing that and 1) going after collective bargaining rights and 2) asking for mandatory annual elections to determine union membership. And those measures are patently designed to weaken labor for all time, long after the crisis is over. 

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If Democrats return to the Capitol to cut a deal, those will be the items removed from the deal. And removing them would be a massive concession/defeat/etc for Walker.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.