Scott St. Clair: Wisconsin’s Walker KO’s Unions With Recall Punch in the Nose

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It was an old-fashioned butt kicking in Wisconsin last night. Gov. Scott Walker, the target of a recall effort by unions and progressives after he successfully steer headed reforms stripping government-sector unions of their collective-bargaining and mandatory-membership rights, blew out his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by near-landslide numbers.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Walker had a seven point edgeover Barrett, up from the six point margin he had over the Milwaukee mayor when they faced each other two years ago.

Walker KO’d the unions who were last seen flat on their backs on the political canvas. Wisconsin, the first state to allow government-sector unions the right to negotiate, became the first state to give them the heave-ho. They came after Gov. Walker with a vengeance, but in a three-strikes-you’re-out scenario they failed to recall senators they targeted last year, they failed to dump a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge in an election and now they’ve failed to oust Walker.
If you’re going to assassinate the king, you better not miss. They missed big time.
Now they’re out of ammunition. After Walker’s reforms made union membership in Wisconsin a matter of personal choice, not a compulsory obligation in order to keep a job, members bolted for the door in land-rush numbers. Some unions saw membership numbers drop more than 50 percent. When that happens, the cash spigot gets turned off, something I predictedwould happen in Wisconsin and eventually nation-wide. No dues in the door, no campaign donations out the door.
If I were a union official anywhere in America this morning, I’d be drunk or crying or looking for the tallest building possible off of which to jump. Or all of the above.
 Labor put it all on the line, but voters pulled the plug. This is bigger than the 1981 firing of air traffic controllers by President Ronald Reagan after they illegally struck the federal government, which ushered in years of push backs against unions by businesses large and small. Now government-sector unions can squirm and suffer.
A scant 11.8 percent of American workers belong to unions, down from nearly one-third in the early post-World War II era. More telling, however, is the breakdown between private-sector workers and government-sector workers. A measly 6.9 of the former are union members, while 37 percent of government-sector workers are union members.
More bureaucrats, agency workers and others belong to unions than factory hands, construction workers or truck drivers.
But after yesterday, that’s going to change. Wisconsin proved states can take on the vested special interests that unions have become as part of an overall package to restrain government spending and hold the line on taxes.
And they’ll have to given the continued abysmal balance sheets most states have that are driven largely by profligate government-sector wage and benefit packages and unsustainable pensions. Now the wind blowing out of Wisconsin is at the back of reformers.
But it will take work and toughness. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich spearheaded reforms similar to Wisconsin’s only to see them repealed by voters. In New Hampshire, a right-to-work law was vetoed by the Democratic governor with an override failing by one vote in the state Senate.
And progressives and their pals in labor won’t give up. If anything, they’ll become more hysterical. Twitter is flooded today with death threats against Gov. Walker. MSNBC’s always nasty Ed Schultz claimshe may soon be indicted for undisclosed-by-him sins. Foaming at the mouth isn’t far behind.
In the campaign bunkers of candidates like former Congressman Jay Inslee, a lefty’s lefty who never saw a union boss’ derriere he wasn’t willing to kiss and who thinks he’ll be Washington state’s next governor, there should be pause. The legs have been kicked out from underneath a principle tenet of progressive thinking and strategy: Government-sector unions are no longer untouchable and a guaranteed source of contributions and manpower.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
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