Wisconsin’s public unions say they’ll adjust to protect their future


Many of Governor Scott Walker’s supporters see victory in last week’s recall election as another nail in the coffin of public employee unions. But union advocates say government workers will just have to find another way to defend their interests in the workplace.

Almost exactly a year ago today Gov. Walker gave a speech in Madison at a conference of state realtors. During a question and answer session he said there was one thing he wished he had done differently in his election campaign, “Probably the biggest significant thing if I had it to do again, obviously I don’t so I try to look forward as much as possible is spend more time building a case for why collective bargaining isn’t a right it’s an expensive entitlement.”

As it turned out he did have a lot more time to build that case and take it back to the voters. Anecdotal exit polls last week indicate animosity towards public employee union bargaining rights was something that prompted many voters to support Walker. But Frank Emspak the executive editor of Workers Independent News says Walker’s second election victory doesn’t spell the end of union organizing by government employees, “As we’ve discovered over a hundred years you can get rid of it one way it comes back a different way. Workers are going to figure how to get together to accomplish the ends that they need to get through the day. And that has happened with or without legislation. It’s just a lot harder and more disruptive when it’s without any kind of structure.”

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Emspak was a recent guest on the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio. Emspak also predicted both public and private unions will probably spend less energy in electoral politics and put more effort into finding more effective ways to help workers negotiate with employers.

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