WASHINGTON (PAI) – Prior battles in Wisconsin and Ohio over collective bargaining rights for state and local government workers sharply boosted overall labor enthusiasm and turnout in those two states this year, a new union analysis says. That in turn helped Democratic President Barack Obama win both swing states, it adds.

The AFSCME analysis adds its “findings and results are a warning to governors and mayors across the country who would consider anti-union attacks similar to those pursued by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.”

The report is notable because AFSCME is not only the AFL-CIO’s largest union, but also one of its most politically savvy. Current president, Lee Saunders also chairs the federation’s political committee, as did.

And AFSCME members were large shares of the 400,000 Ohio state and local workers whom GOPer Kasich and his GOP-run legislature stripped of collective bargaining and other rights, as well as the 300,000 Wisconsin workers who suffered the same fate at the hands of radical right Republican Walker and his GOP legislators.

Unions struck back against Ohio’s law by getting voters to overturn it in a 2011 referendum, 61%-39%. Wisconsin state and federal judges have thrown out other anti-worker sections of Walker’s law, but not denial of collective bargaining. A union-led recall election against Walker earlier in 2012 fell 7% short of ousting him.

AFSCME called the November 2012 election another battle in the fight between Main Street and Wall Street nationwide. “And Main Street won,” it said.

“It didn’t matter if the candidates were Democratic or Republican. It wasn’t about left versus right. It was about right versus wrong,” the report declared.

The election was “a declaration by the American people that they are standing up for working families, children, seniors and the most vulnerable of our country. Despite nefarious attacks against the very right to vote, Americans chose Medicare, not millionaires,” it added. That referred to the right wing and corporate interests that backed – and bankrolled – Walker, Kasich and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Voters “said that it was wrong for politicians to try stripping Americans of their rights, their jobs and their promised benefits. That it was wrong to make working families sacrifice while asking nothing of the wealthiest. This election determined whether the values of Main Street were more important than the greed of Wall Street. Main Street won.”



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.