Just weeks before
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rolled out his plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, he explained to a billionaire donor that it was the first step in a larger anti-union plan. The January 18, 2011 conversation was filmed by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, who has released some footage.
In the video, Diane Hendricks, who owns a roofing wholesale and siding distribution company, asks Walker:
"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions—"
Walker: "Oh, yeah."
Hendricks: "—and become a right-to-work? What can we do to help you?"
Walker: "Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."
Hendricks gave Walker $10,000 shortly after that conversation, but that's peanuts compared to the $500,000 she gave him during the pre-recall period when he could accept unlimited contributions.
"Divide and conquer" makes clear how much bigger a fight Walker is interested in than just going after public workers and collective bargaining. Divide public-sector and private-sector workers, weaken one, and leave the other standing alone to be picked off at your leisure. Divide union and non-union workers, because if you can get rid of unions, you can do whatever you want to non-union workers—especially if you get rid of equal pay enforcement and environmental regulations and paid sick leave laws and disenfranchise voters from groups that don't support you. These aren't isolated actions. They're steps along the way to what Hendricks first asked Walker: Getting to be a completely red state.
What Walker has passed in the past 17 months is bad enough. But this is what's happened while he's been treading at least somewhat carefully, with himself and many of his allies in the Senate facing recall. It's a dead certainty he has more and worse in mind if he hangs on as governor.
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