A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 presidential race.
Scott Walker suddenly remembered how enthusiastic he is about “right to work” laws.
When Walker was running for re-election as governor of Wisconsin in 2014, he was frequently asked if he would sign so-called “right to work” legislation, which is designed to weaken unions and undermine the voices of workers on the job and in public life. Despite his reputation as an anti-labor zealot, Walker dodged the question again and again and again.
A month before the 2014 election, at a point when the polls were close and Walker was running for his political life, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker “won’t say if he would veto right-to-work legislation barring private-sector workers from having to join a union as part of their job.”
The Associated Press reported three weeks before the election that “Walker says he won’t push to make Wisconsin a right to work state or expand the Act 10 collective bargaining law if elected to a second term.”
As Election Day approached, Walker went further. He claimed he had told Republican legislators not to send him that legislation. Recalling the historic protests that arose four years ago when he attacked the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, Walker warned that raising the “right to work” issue would “bring the whole firestorm back.”
“Those aren’t the sorts of debates that are helpful for us to take the next step forward,” said the governor, as he made his case for re-election. “It’s about the tenor and the tone of the Legislature and what it means to the state as a whole.”
Every indication from Walker suggested that he wanted the issue to go away. “Right-to-work,” the governor declared, was “not something that’s part of my agenda.”
“My point is I’m not pushing for it,” he said. “I’m not supporting it in this session.”