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For AFSCME, Walker’s Defeat in Wisconsin Was an Especially Important Victory

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
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As the final results of the 2018 midterm elections come in, AFSCME members have much to celebrate and much to look forward to: at every level of government and across the nation, we helped elect pro-worker candidates ready to stand up with working families.

Our victories include five governor’s mansions in critical states; electing or re-electing at least 50 pro-worker candidates to the U.S. House and (as of now) seven candidates to the U.S. Senate; and no less than 350 seats in state legislatures.

But one victory stands above most others in its importance to working people across the United States – the defeat of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

In 2011, Walker took away collective bargaining rights from public service workers and started a trend in which anti-worker politicians in several states launched “right-to-work” legislation modeled on Wisconsin’s.

Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers with AFSCME Council 32 President Paul Spink. (Photo courtesy AFSCME Council 32)
Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers with AFSCME Council 32 President Paul Spink. (Photo courtesy AFSCME Council 32)

In the 2018 election cycle, AFSCME members fought hard to replace Walker with a former teacher and a staunch supporter of working people – Tony Evers.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of AFSCME. It was there in 1932 that a small group of white-collar, professional state employees came together to protect their civil service jobs from political patronage. They formed the Wisconsin State Employees Association, the first of 20 or so employee associations that would emerge across the country over the next few years and become AFSCME.

In 2011, when Walker signed Act 10 into law, taking away collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, he struck at the heart of our union. A friend to corporate billionaires and special interests, Walker seemed to rejoice in his anti-worker, anti-union reputation.

He became the prototypical ALEC politician, in the pocket of corporate interests and a bully to working families and unionized workers.

AFSCME members got out the vote in support of Gov.-elect Evers, the state’s superintendent of public instruction. Evers saw Walker raid public education to fund tax cuts for the wealthy and signed the petition to recall him in 2012. He supports collective bargaining rights for public service workers.

Wisconsin holds a special place in the history of our union. AFSCME members in that state plan to work with Evers to improve public services across the state, stand up with working families and get our communities back on track.