Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will take the stage at a Las Vegas town hall and unveil his national labor reform plan.
On Thursday, Walker teased the plan during a speech at Eureka College, saying, “…on Day One, I will stop the government from taking money out of the paychecks of federal employees for political union dues. I’ve won those battles in Wisconsin and believe me, I won’t back down from the battles in Washington.”
The Walker campaign has done a lot of legwork in the lead-up to today, which tells me that they’re banking on this presentation as a vehicle to breathe life back into what many believe is a faltering campaign infrastructure. During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper this weekend, Walker ran offense as Tapper grilled him on dropping poll numbers and criticism from right-leaning outlets about how his campaign is handling the pressure of the election cycle.
Walker’s labor reform plan is bold, and detailed. He proposes eliminating the National Labor Relations Board, eliminating federal unions, and requiring new levels of transparency and accountability for all unions. He also backs national right to work laws, and policies that would protect whistleblowers and employees who choose not to join a union. On the taxpayer end, Walker proposes rolling back wage controls (for a savings of $13 billion over ten years,) and ending union control over federal highway contracts (for a savings of 12-18 percent per project.)
In an exclusive op-ed at HotAir, Walker touts the plan as a way of protecting workers, while loosening the unions’ stranglehold on government:
And let’s not forget the fact that federal unions interfere with the ability of the government to serve the people. Consider the millions of hours each year federal employees spend working for big-labor bosses, rather than the American people. In 2012, taxpayers subsidized more than 3.3 million hours of “official time,” in which government employees are paid to work exclusively for union bosses, at a cost of $156 million to American taxpayers.
At the IRS, which has been busy attacking conservative groups instead of actually helping Americans deal with their taxes, more than 200 employees work full-time for big-government union bosses at taxpayer expense. The situation is even worse at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where in fiscal year 2013, more than 250 employees – including medical professionals – collected taxpayer-funded salaries to work for union bosses instead of veterans. The fact that this is occurring at a time when the IRS and VA lurch from one scandal to another and struggle to provide basic services to those they are charged with serving underscores the need for reform.
Under current law, employees at some federal agencies like the FBI, CIA, Secret Service and the Government Accountability Office are already prevented from unionizing. The sensitive work done at these agencies requires employee accountability and efficiency, which federal unions often work against. We should give all federal agencies the ability to operate without the limitations and inefficiencies federal unions cause.
The left is already going into major wagon-circling mode, releasing statements presenting Walker’s plan as a sort of end-of-days disaster for labor relations:
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ann Hodges, a professor at the University of Richmond who has studied labor law for more than 40 years. “This will take the breath away from anyone who’s worked in labor relations for any length of time. … It’s pretty draconian.”
Lee Adler, a labor law expert at Cornell University, said Walker’s proposals would eliminate workers’ rights and make it more difficult for people to join the middle class.
“Mr. Walker could only be making these type of proposals to satisfy his most backward-looking, wealthy contributors, just as he pursued, as governor, policies advanced by these people that sought to destroy school teachers and other public employees’ rights in Wisconsin,” he said.
Full disclosure: I didn’t expect Walker to be polling at just below 6 percent at this point in the campaign. Walker’s record in Wisconsin served as a boon for conservatives fighting the unions and labor special interests on both the local and national level; seeing him throwing a Hail Mary this early in the process—if it is a Hail Mary, it’s a strong one—is reflective of just how bizarre this cycle has been and will continue to be.
Still, I think that this could breathe life back into the campaign. With this plan, we’ve been given a chance to see Walker doing what he does best—taking on special interests. It’s an issue that’s important to conservatives, and one that we can frame to resonate with those still undecided about which way to vote in 2016. No candidate is perfect, but if Walker can pull off the presentation of this plan—welcome to the theatre, today’s feature is campaign politics—he could see the bump he needs to overcome the campaign death watch the mainstream media has already initiated.
If the union-loving left hates this plan, it deserves a closer look—and so does candidate Scott Walker.
Scott Walker’s labor policy town hall will begin at approximately 3:30 PDT in Las Vegas, Nevada. We will provide a livestream if available.
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