America's labor movement demonstrated that everyday people could gain a soupcon of power over their working lives by standing together. It raised workers from degrading conditions to decent ones, bringing safety to factories and middle-class security to millions.
What slew workers' last hope of keeping the gains won during the 20th century was the billionaire 1 percenters who bankrolled
Walker's recall fight to retain his job was sparked after he stripped public-sector employees of their collective bargaining rights. The election quickly became a referendum on the power of money vs. the power of people. The people lost by not standing together.
Walker's side outspent the opposition by a factor of more than 7 to 1. Money for Walker gushed in from out-of-state corporate titans with an interest in destroying unions.
This victory gives Republican governors and their wealthy benefactors proof of concept. A flood of money can beat out a grass-roots campaign of passion and shoe leather. With enough outlandish TV ads, people can be convinced to vote against their economic interests, even in a place like
Now comes the harsh reality of an emboldened right wing that sees no political risk in dismantling whatever remains of workers' rights. A widely viewed video of Walker has him quietly telling a wealthy supporter last year that he plans to take unions down through a "divide and conquer" strategy with the elimination of public employee bargaining rights as a first step.
A joke that captures this neat trick made the rounds in
Walker's victory comes on top of the Republican landslide in 2010 that gave union-busting a huge boost.
Look next to states like
Unions are what has given average people dignity and security. Both my parents hold master's degrees and put in long years as public school teachers in
Once unions are gone or completely toothless, the last bastion of people-power will go with them. Feel helpless now? Just wait until there are no unions to hold onto what's left of worker rights or to challenge the 1 percenters in
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Wisconsin Vote Dashes Union Hopes, An Entire Movement's Gains | Politics
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