The Corner

Wisconsin: The Canary in the Public Union Coal Mine

As you’ve combed through the pages of NRO for the past few months, you’ve probably wondered what’s so darn special about Wisconsin. You’ve said things like, “I’m from Kansas, and we’re home to the little girl who told Abe Lincoln to grow a beard,” or “Why so little national coverage of the New Jersey town that serves as the home to Hitler’s private toilet?” Why would NRO let some nobody from Wisconsin spend five months posting stories about his state’s union dispute?

Apparently Nancy Pelosi has figured out why Wisconsin is important, as she has reportedly been raising money to fund the elections to recall six Republican state senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to scale back the ability of public-sector unions to collectively bargain. National Democratic figures have concluded that Wisconsin is the canary in the coal mine for public unions — if Walker’s plan is successful, it could serve as a blueprint for weakening public unions around the country.

Consequently, national union money has been pouring into the state in order to make Republicans pay for weakening unions. The We Are Wisconsin Political Action Committee announced last week that they had raised $4 million for the effort to recall GOP senators, with over $3 million of that coming from the national AFL-CIO. Additionally, the PAC collected six-figure donations from AFSCME, United Food and Commercial Workers, and WEAC, the state’s largest teachers’ union. As pointed out by Media Trackers, the PAC’s spokesman is Kelly Steele, who most recently worked on Sen. Harry Reid’s reelection battle in Nevada.

In the meantime, the 14 Democrat state senators who fled the state to hold up passage of Walker’s bill have continued to garner national attention. On July 2, the “Fleeing 14” senators were honored at the National Education Association convention in Chicago, taking part in a pep rally that would embarrass even Lebron James and the the Miami Heat:

Not since the Kardashian sisters has any group of people been celebrated so much for doing absolutely nothing.

But if Democrats succeed in winning three recall elections and win back control of the state senate (two seats are almost certain to go their way, which means they need to win just one of the remaining four), they will be emboldened. It will be trumpeted nationwide as a rebuke of Scott Walker’s policies, and will serve as a warning for future legislators around America who would dare tinker with union benefits.

And when the union fights across the country begin, no longer will the people of Georgia be talking nonstop about the Lunch Box Museum in Columbus.

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.


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