A largely union-led effort is seeking revenge against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his cost-cutting measure opposing collective bargaining rights for public employees. The New York Times reports,
Thousands of volunteers have raced to collect signatures near busy intersections and malls all over Wisconsin, at makeshift “drive-through” operations in parking lots, during Green Bay Packers viewing parties and New Year’s Eve pub crawls, and even at a fold-up table inside Milwaukee’s airport just off Concourse C.
By a state deadline on Tuesday, these volunteers, many of them Democrats and union supporters, say they will submit at least 720,000 names on petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican who curtailed collective bargaining rights for public workers, leading to a face-off in this state. . . .
In an interview in which Mr. Walker reflected on what he described as his “very surreal” first year in office, he spoke of the outside forces. “I think there’s a real sense that the government unions don’t want anybody — Republican or Democrat — doing this,” Mr. Walker said of his moves to limit benefits and bargaining rights for public workers. “And they’re going to try to make an example of me.”
The move is a testimony to the persistence and power of public-employee unions and like-minded types: though a minority, they are powerful, self-interested, ambitious, relentless, and very well-funded. While details of the funding for this effort have not yet emerged, a similar union-led front which succeeded in overturning legislation in Ohio last fall was funded to the tune of millions from large Washington D.C. unions and many other out-of-state sources.
These people are also fiercely protective of their privileged status as tax-feeders—something which they are quite sensitive about having publicized. The Wisconsin Congressional action early last year exposed these unions publicly as a major force behind sagging public debts. The teachers and other public employees want to protect both their privileges and their public image:
Carol Carlin, a retired teacher whose signs beckoned people to park in the driveway of her Milwaukee County house and add their names to recall petitions, said the psyches of public workers had been devastated by Mr. Walker’s cuts. “People don’t want to become teachers when you are absolutely treated as the leeches on the system,” she said.
Apparently, the petition process is as sloppy as the groups’ protests (see after math here):
Scores of problems have been claimed: intentionally scribbled-on petitions, physical altercations about petitions, fake names on petitions, and a slew of screamed bad words (not to mention at least one egg) exchanged over petitions. Some Democrats say they began carrying cameras in case they needed to document untoward acts. And Republicans launched a “Recall Integrity Center” Web site where people could report “shady tactics” from the other side.
While the petition seems to be a technical success, the thousands of signatures are still a minority of the state. There are many people strongly opposed to the move:
[One] passer-by, clutching the hands of two young girls, called out angrily, “This is disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful! Why should my granddaughters pay for these entitlements they’re calling rights?”