AFL-CIO President Says Labor Owes Walker a 'Thank You'

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has two words for Scott Walker: "Thank You."

The Wisconsin governor's plan to restrict collective-bargaining rights for government employees, which unexpectedly passed Wednesday night in the state Senate, has energized the labor movement in a way not seen in a generation, Trumka said.


"We probably should have invited him today to receive the Mobilizer of the Year award," Trumka said.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the progressive group Campaign for America's Future hours after Walker's Republican allies in the Wisconsin state Senate ended a weeks-long standoff with a sneak parliamentary maneuver to pass the proposed labor restrictions, the labor chief was more defiant than crestfallen.

"In your lifetime, have you ever seen this much solidarity?" Trumka said to the crowd. "Have you ever seen this much excitement?"

Walker's legislation has become a national flash point, with thousands of Democrats and union workers flooding the state capitol in Madison to protest what they see as an overreach by the new GOP governor. Republicans have argued that the legislation is necessary to balance the state's budget and symbolic of the fact that voters are more fed up with public-sector unions than ever before.

Trumka said the controversy has helped shift the focus away from austerity measures to collective-bargaining rights and the economic health of the middle class.

"This is a debate we've wanted to have for 20-25 years," he said. "Well, guess what? Suddenly, the debate came to us.

"And here's the most beautiful part of it: We're winning that debate with the American people," he said.

Presented by

Alex Roarty is a politics writer for National Journal.

The Man Who Owns 40,000 Video Games

A short documentary about an Austrian gamer with an uncommon obsession

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Politics

Just In