Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said today that unions are not deterred at all by their failure to overturn Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's law curbing public employee unions' power through recent state supreme court and state senate elections.
"[Walker] tried to take us out," Trumka told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor this morning. "We’re in that state, and the labor movement is actually growing in that state. We've organized a number of hospitals, we’ve organized 30,000 Working America members."
Trumka explained that it's a testament to labor's continued political success that Democrats successfully recalled two senators in this month's recall election. Furthermore, the fact that union-friendly Democrats weren't able to take control of the senate, he said, doesn't indicate that recalling Walker next year would be more difficult.
"These were the only six we could recall because of the way the elections go," said Trumka. "Six very highly Republican performing [districts]. If you look at those, we won two, we almost won two more, and two we didn’t. But overall, we got over 49 percent of the vote. Now, if I’m a Republican strategist and I look at six of my best performing districts, and I only got 49 percent of the votes, I don’t think I’d call that a victory and I don’t think I’d breathe easier about that. And I think that that says something about the possibility of a recall of Scott Walker, because they only got 50 percent plus in six of his strongest districts."
But contrary to Trumka's assertion that these are some of the "best performing districts," they were all swing districts that voted for Obama in 2008 and Scott Walker in 2010. One district that the Democrats took gave Walker a bare 49 percent plurality in 2010 and went 60 percent for Obama in 2008. The other district, which the Democrats won by 2 points, was held by a Republican "married man playing house with a young girlfriend," as George Will notes in his column today, "Liberals' Wisconsin Waterloo."
In light of Russ Feingold's announcement that he won't run for office next year, it remains to be seen if Democrats can muster a recall campaign against Walker. "Republicans hope they try," George Will writes today. "Wisconsin seems weary of attempts to overturn elections, and surely Obama does not want his allies squandering political money and the public’s patience."