In 2010, newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared war on union wages. His first attack was a bill that he pushed through the legislature, which banned collective bargaining for government workers. Now, his goal is to make Wisconsin a non-union state.
This has caused Wisconsin workers to rebel. They held rallies attended by tens of thousands of people, and then started the process to recall Gov. Walker. A million signatures were brought to the capital for the recall—twice what was needed—an amount that was just shy of the 1.1 million votes Walker received in the general election. The recall is to take place June 5, 2012.
Before the election was made official, there were no state limits on campaign fundraising. So
Walker contacted his billionaire anti-union buddies and raised millions. Oil tycoons David and Charles Koch held a fundraiser that garnered $1.3 million for Walker. Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas magnate, who propped up Newt Gingrich’s run for the presidency, got in on the action with a quarter million. His biggest instate donor was billionaire Diane M. Hendricks, who tossed in a half-million dollars.
Walker, who is unabashed about his intentions to downsize middleclass wages, was caught
saying to Hendricks that his strategy is to “divide and conquer” the middleclass. Walker denied the incident, even while it went viral on the web because someone caught it on their video camera.
Meanwhile, anti-labor Super PAC funds keep rolling in to support Walker. For example, the
Koch brother’s Super PAC Americans for Prosperity has spent $3 million so far running negative ads against union labor and the Democratic nominee, Tom Barrett. As it stands, Barrett has been outspent 10-to-1 for election advertisements and teach-in rallies.
One might think that Barrett’s argument that a vote for him will save middleclass wages
would be hard to beat. That’s because the truth is that as union wages fall so do wages for all middleclass workers. Hence, the thirty-year decline for middleclass pay that started with the union-busting days of the Reagan Administration. But no—Barrett is just about dead in the water. That’s because this is class warfare.
The billionaires have made Wisconsin a test case for keeping middleclass wages down. As Election Day approaches, the anti-Barrett Super PAC ads have taken swiftboating to a new height. Barrett is looking more like the alien Muslim socialist brother of Barak Obama than anything else. Barrett’s reputation as the easygoing former Congressman from Wisconsin and current Milwaukee mayor seems to have been lost from the conversation.