by Clyde Weiss | January 17, 2012
More than 1 million petition signatures have been submitted calling for a recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin State AFL-CIO)
The people have spoken. With more than 1 million petition signatures, Wisconsin registered voters are proclaiming that the rights of American workers must be respected.
Weighing one and a half tons, the paper petitions will – once confirmed – set in motion a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker. Petitions were also filed Tuesday to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four senators who supported a law that stripped more than 200,000 public service workers of their union rights last March.
“With this massive amount of signatures, the people of Wisconsin are demonstrating that they will not be pushed around by a bully of a governor,” said Marty Beil, executive director of AFSCME Council 24. “Like the voters in Ohio who recently rejected another version of Walker’s right-wing attack on worker rights, the voters of Wisconsin will have the chance to make their voices heard loud and clear that collective bargaining is a basic right of American workers that should be respected and not repealed.”
Now comes the reckoning for Walker and his allies. Their own recall elections follow on the heels of last summer’s recall elections, which cost Walker his working majority in the Senate. As a result, the so-called “budget repair” bill that passed the state Assembly in the dark of night could not become law today.
Walker’s corporate-backed, anti-worker campaign energized tens of thousands of people to demonstrate against the governor’s scheme. In Wisconsin, they marched in the streets. Protestors filled the state Capitol. The state’s embattled workers won support from people across the nation.
It is appropriate that these petitions are turned in on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of an Executive Order that – for the first time – granted collective bargaining rights to most federal workers. As noted by Georgetown University history Prof. Joseph A. McCartin in an opinion piece published today in The Los Angeles Times, that Executive Order came before public union rights were deemed controversial and partisan by Pres. Ronald Reagan and like-minded conservatives who followed his lead.
It’s time to return to the spirit of Kennedy’s Executive Order for federal workers. This is a fight we can – and must – win.
For more on the recall, read this story in The Nation.