Governor Scott Walker says there's nothing inconsistent about his support for the NFL referees' union, though at least one Wisconsin union begs to differ.
The call by replacement refs that gave Monday night's game to the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers put a spotlight on the NFL owners' ongoing lockout of the referees' union. It also drew calls across the political spectrum to end that lockout and a tweet from Governor Walker urging the NFL to "return the real refs." Walker says he spoke as a fan.
"I look at it and say even if they weren't union, whatever you need to do to get them back would be worth it because the confidence that the public, the fan base has in the NFL, is rapidly degrading," he says.
Walker's comments drew more attention than most because of his prominent role in undercutting the bargaining power of Wisconsin's public employee unions. The Governor contends his stands are consistent. "It's very simple," he says. "What I did was about being pro-taxpayer, not anti-union. So I don't have problems with unions. I've got plenty of unions I've worked very closely with in the private sector."
But Kevin Gundlach of the South Central Federation of Labor says the Governor's being inconsistent. Gundlach's group represents both public and private unions in Wisconsin.
"If we see the value of good training, if we see the value of input from the workers and refs when it comes to workplace issues, and we see the value and the intrinsic value of what they can offer the game, the same certainly holds true with all of our public sector workers who should be treated with much more diginity and respect and support, something the Governor has not given," he says.
Gundlach argues Walker has more in common with NFL owners in this lockout, though Walker insists he's not weighing in on the details of the labor dispute.