A video showing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appearing to support "right-to-work" in a conversation with a rich Wisconsin businesswoman has given the Democratic side of the recall new ammunition to position Walker as a flip-flopper on the subject. The video was shot by a documentary filmmaker on January 18, 2011, before Walker's controversial budget repair bill set in motion the uproar that led to this spring's recall election.
"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker says in the video to roofing-business billionaire Diane Hendricks, who had asked him whether he would support right-to-work legislation. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."
Walker has said publicly before that he wouldn't pursue right-to-work. Asked about right-to-work earlier this year by The Atlantic's Molly Ball Walker had said, "When I was in the legislature, I supported it. It's not something I'm pursuing right now, nor have any plan of pursuing. Again, private-sector unions have been our partner in the economic revival we've had in this state."
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has pounced on the video, sending a memo to reporters this morning: "Despite pursuing “Right-to-Work-For-Less” legislation while serving in the state legislature, and his history of opposing prevailing wage laws, Walker has repeatedly denied in public his intent to turn Wisconsin into a low-wage, low-benefit state."
Labor groups are digging in as well. From the communications director of We Are Wisconsin, the labor coalition running much of the recall:
And Walker's opponent in the recall election, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, put out a statement this morning:
"Scott Walker has plunged our state into political turmoil with his 'divide and conquer' style of governing, and Wisconsin is tired of it. More alarming is how Walker says in public what he thinks the people want to hear, but then reveals his true colors to the conservative billionaires bankrolling his campaign."
"Governor Walker has made clear repeatedly that he does not have an interest in pushing right to work legislation," said Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews. "Governor Walker was elected in 2010 on the promise of closing the $3.6 billion budget deficit left to him by the Doyle administration without raising taxes, mass layoffs of public employees, cuts to essential services, or budget gimmicks and that’s exactly what he did."