Unions in Wisconsin have dug in over the past week for one reason: Gov. Scott Walker (R), they say, is hell bent on breaking them. Organized state workers say that the ultimate goal of Walker’s state budget plan is to strip them of the power to join together and demand better benefits and pay from their employers — not to balance the budget. In a pair of new interviews, Walker refutes that charge — but also makes it clear that he does not see unions as much of a good thing.
“Wisconsin has the strongest civil service system in the country,” Walker told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos when asked to refute the union buster charge. “We had it long before collective bargaining rights. The rights that workers have in this state are not based on their contracts, they’re based on that law, which again is the strongest in the country.”
Walker said rights to file employee grievances, merit-based hiring and other guarantees will not be touched by his proposal. Charges that he’s a union-buster, he said, miss the mark.
“You can say anything the midst of the debate,” he said.
But at other parts in the ABC interview, Walker makes clear just how low his opinion of organized labor is. An even better summation of those feelings comes in a seven-minute web interview Walker did with the Heritage Foundation, where (at best) distrust of unions is coin of the realm.
“I saw it first hand as a county official,” Walker — the former elected County Executive in Milwaukee County, Wisc. — told Heritage. “Every time I tried to do things like ask for a little bit more from pension or a little bit more from health care contributions and at one point in years past even tried to do a 35-hour work week as a way to avoid layoffs.
“The union leadership basically said, ‘forget it — go lay 500-600 people off, we don’t care,’” Walker continued. “I mean, that’s where their mindset is. That’s because they know the power of collective bargaining forces local governments not to be able to make the sort of reasonable decisions to protect jobs.”
Watch Walker talk about not being a union buster with Stephanopoulos:
Then watch him talk about how terrible unions can be with Heritage: