Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.
After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”
“We need to make big, fundamental, permanent structural changes. It’s why we did what we did in Wisconsin,” declared Walker, who at the annual dinner of the right-wing Goldwater Institute said that compromising with unions was “bogus.”
Comparing governors who have been attacking the collective-bargaining rights of public employees with the founders of the American experiment—“just like that group that gathered in Philadelphia”—Walker told his listeners: “We need to have leaders not just in Wisconsin but here in Arizona…”
If anyone missed the point, Walker said: “Tonight, you might say I’m preaching to the choir with a bunch of fellow conservatives.… I preach to the choir because I want the choir to sing. So tonight I’m asking you to sing. Tell the message in Arizona and all across America that we can do things better.”
The crowd was listening.
This week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer—fresh from pointing her finger in the face of President Obama—and her allies in the Republican-controlled state legislature announced that they would try to outdo the anti-labor initiatives of Walker and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators.
And they did so in conjunction with the very people Walker has consulted with, spoken to and urged on in November: The Goldwater Institute.
Indeed, as Arizona’s anti-labor initiative was launched, the Goldwater Institute’s website featured an image of 2011 protests at the state Capitol in Madison and a headline that read: “Bigger Than Wisconsin? Reforming Government Unions Will Save Taxpayers Billions.”
But the Goldwater Institute is not proposing reforms. Documents linked to the “Bigger Than Wisconsin?” headline outline plans to “[ban] government sector unions from collective bargaining and entering into collectively bargained contracts.” Indeed, they suggest, “Statistical analysis shows that if states prohibited all forms of collective bargaining, they could reap a total of nearly $50 billion in savings for state and local taxpayers across the country.”
Even if the argument were valid, its totalitarian premise begs the question: How much more money could be saved by taking away other human rights.