Wisconsin working people and their supporters this week defeated two incumbent state senators who backed Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining rights.
The victories pare down the Wisconsin Republican Senate majority to one.
With the two Democratic victories, Walker’s bill stripping public workers of their collective bargaining rights would not pass the new state Senate.
Democrats had an uphill battle in the six recall elections. Their candidates ran on a platform of union rights in largely rural areas that have elected Republicans since as far back as the late 1800s.
Before yesterday, only two lawmakers had been unseated by recall in the entire history of Wisconsin. So winning two recalls this Tuesday is no small accomplishment.
While failure to retake control of the Senate is a big disappointment for the labor movement and its allies, Tuesday night’s results send some important messages.
First, Wisconsin workers have made it clear to the nation and the world: When attacked they will stand up and fight.
Second: Workers won, or came really close, in strongly Republican areas. Extrapolated out over the entire state, those election results should spell sleepless nights for Gov. Walker.
As Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said in an email message: “These victories send a powerful, undeniable message to governors, legislators and candidates in every state who think they can continue to attack the working middle class, public services and the basic rights of workers.”
Third: By uniting with a wide variety of groups and fighting back, workers have shown that it is possible to beat back right-wing forces that pour millions of dollars into campaigns, and that it is possible to win even when the right wing digs into its arsenal of dirty tricks. Mailings and robocalls with false information and leaflets designed to scare voters were just a few of the dirty trucks used by Republicans in Wisconsin.
Fourth: The recall process has helped cement the building blocks of a new movement. It helped mature a movement that began in the halls of the Capitol in Madison and out on the city’s cold streets last winter. The labor movement and its allies showed, by taking on the recall after the earlier protests, that they understand we are in a protracted battle for democracy and the rights of workers. “Make no mistake, this is a marathon, not a sprint,” McEntee said in his message yesterday.
We salute and congratulate the teachers, the nurses, the fire fighters, the cops, all the public workers, the private sector workers, the students and everyone else who stood up and said “No” to Gov. Walker and his supporters. We salute all of you as you continue the battle for workers’ rights and democracy in Wisconsin and we pledge to do our best to continue to report the stories of your struggles.