Gov. Walker Misleadingly Claims His Union-Busting Bill Doesn’t End Collective Bargaining

The protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) legislative assault on public sector workers continue today, after Wisconsin police refused to evict protesters from the Wisconsin Capitol last night. Walker himself is going on a media tour, appearing on Meet the Press yesterday, as well as a statewide news magazine show, “Upfront With Mike Gousha.”

During the latter interview, Walker claimed that his “budget repair bill,” which actually has little to do with balancing Wisconsin’s budget, does not end collective bargaining for public employees, but only “narrow[s] it down”:

Q: Very briefly, do you see any need for public employee unions in this state, philosophically?

WALKER: If I didn’t, I would have eliminated collective bargaining all over.

Q: Did you think about that?

WALKER: We looked at every option. But in this case we said we could narrow it down, still have a role for collective bargaining, still have a role for public employee unions, but cap it in so that the taxpayers aren’t trumped in by the decision we currently see with collective bargaining.

Watch it:

Walker is making this claim because his budget repair bill would still allow workers to “negotiate” for their wages: under a cap that Walker and the Republican legislature want to set in stone. This is clearly not “collective bargaining” in any real sense of the word, since public employees would already have strict limits imposed upon them before they even get to the bargaining table. Plus, restricting collective bargaining to only wages means that the employer can simply change other elements of worker compensation (like slashing benefits) to make up for any wage increases, without workers having any say about it.


Walker’s goal is simply to bust public employee unions, which is exactly what happened in Indiana after Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) ended collective bargaining for public employees:

If there is one thing the two sides agree on, it’s that an end to collective bargaining will lead to far weaker public sector unions. Mr. Daniels said that after he banned bargaining, membership in the unions for state workers nosedived by 90 percent, with workers deciding it was no longer worth paying dues to newly toothless unions.

Under Walker’s bill, not only would workers lose their collective bargaining rights in all but name, they would also be subject to protections against unfair firings that are “far weaker and narrower than union protections.”

This is not the first time that Walker has tried to mislead the public about the practical implications of his union-busting effort. In fact, earlier this month, he ludicrously claimed that under his proposal “collective bargaining is fully intact.

Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.