, , ,

National Labor Leader Says Unions Will Help Defeat Walker In 2018

National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler Says Defeating Gov. Scott Walker Would Be Both Symbolic And Substantive

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler
Shawn Johnson/WPR

A national labor leader says unions will work to defeat Gov. Scott Walker should he run for re-election in 2018.

National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler was in Madison last week to talk to union leaders about the importance of electing Democrat Hillary Clinton president. When she mentioned Walker at the end of her speech, the room perked up.

“We’re going to finish the job on Scott Walker in 2018,” Shuler said to applause.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

There’s no guarantee Walker will run for a third term as governor, though he has signaled he’s interested. Walker continues to struggle with a low approval rating in Wisconsin. His approval rating was 43 percent in the most recent Marquette University Law School poll — his best showing in nearly two years.

After his brief presidential run, Walker’s star has dimmed on the national stage, but Shuler said unions would still have an interest in defeating Walker if he runs for governor again.

“I think probably a symbolic victory is something the union movement would like to see,” Shuler said. “But also substantive because it shows that Scott Walker’s policies have actually failed.”

Walker has repeatedly sparred with unions, most notably in 2011 when he introduced a bill to all but eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public sector unions. Walker frequently uses their opposition as a way to fire up his own political base.

Wisconsin’s unions are nowhere near the political force today that they were before Walker took office. State law now makes it harder for them to organize and collect dues, let alone win any meaningful changes for their members at the bargaining table.

Shuler acknowledged it had been a tough six years for Wisconsin unions under Walker, but she said there are better days ahead for organized labor. She said workers are organizing in jobs that haven’t had unions in the past.

“We’re organizing in all sectors, whether it’s the manufacturing sector, retail and service sector, the health care industry,” Shuler said. “More and more people see that the pathway to the middle class is by coming together and joining a union.”

Shuler said some manufacturing jobs are also returning to Wisconsin, aided in part by union training.