In his first years as governor of Wisconsin, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker made it abundantly clear he was no friend to unions. Now, he’s bringing his anti-organized labor stance to his presidential campaign.
In a plan Walker calls “Power to the People,” Walker proposed eliminating the National Labor Relations Board, breaking apart all unions for federal workers and implement transparency rules requiring “ online disclosure of union expenditures,” including the pay of labor leaders.
Walker also said he would change labor rules for individual employees, including implementing national “right-to-work” laws, which prohibit employers from excluding non-union members, protecting federal worker pay and whistleblowers. These measures would effectively make it more difficult for unions to organize, but Walker claims the goal is “to achieve fairness and opportunity for American workers.”
"This will not be easy," Walker said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Many — including the union bosses and the politicians they puppet — have long benefited from Washington rules that put the needs of special interests before needs of middle-class families.”
The scope of the change is virtually unprecedented and some experts argue it would actually prevent people from joining 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,” said Lee Adler, a labor law expert at Cornell University.
Walker also promised to reverse the Obama administration’s recent decision to give 5 million more American workers the right to be paid for overtime hours, Think Progress reported.
Democrats strongly oppose the move. “By seeking to dismantle unions – the backbone of the middle class that gave us weekends, paid vacations, and child labor laws – Scott Walker is again placing his political ambitions and the demands of his billionaire benefactors ahead of middle-class Americans,’’ a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
The move comes after Walker’s numbers have dramatically dipped as time wears on and the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates has failed to thin. "None of this intimidates us," Walker said at a recent campaign appearance. "I think if people are looking for someone who is truly going to shake things up and wreak havoc on Washington, they want someone who's got real solutions and someone who is truly tested. I'm the only one on that stage that fits the bill."