Re-electing Walker: Pogo, Pence, Gould, and London — UPDATED!

scott walkerI thought of Pogo, Jim Pence, Jay Gould, and Jack London when I read that almost four in ten Wisconsin union households voted to help sustain Scott Walker, the Dairy State ‘s union-busting Republican governor.

Citing exit polls, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online reported that in the recall election, Walker “won 37% of union households in 2010 and 38% in 2012 — about the number that polls show represents the percentage of voters in union households that are Republican.”

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” famously said Pogo, the wise little cartoon swamp possum.

“Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much,” aptly observed Pence, who runs the Hillbilly Report blogsite in Kentucky, where I live and pack a union card.

Walker would have loved Gould, a union-hating millionaire financier and railroad tycoon. “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half,” bragged the old Robber Baron — dubbed “the perfect eel” — after he hired scabs to break a strike.

Of course, there’s another way to crunch the Wisconsin numbers. Sixty-two percent of union households voted for Walker’s union-endorsed challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whom Walker beat in 2010. At the same time, union members themselves voted for Barrett, 71-29 percent, according to exit polls The Washington Post reported.

If everybody in Wisconsin had voted like union members or union households, Barrett would soon be moving to Madison, the state capital.

Yet the figures also show Walker, one of the most viciously anti-union governors in Wisconsin history, still managed to sucker many union supporters.

Walker’s strategy for wiping out unions is “divide and conquer” – his words. So he started with public sector unions. His GOP-majority legislature passed his bill gutting their collective bargaining rights.

Walker exempted police and firefighter unions, presumably thinking they were more GOP-friendly. Also part of his con job was leaving private sector unions alone.

Doubtless he counted on a lot of the exempted union members to say something like, “too bad about the teachers and government workers, but my ox isn’t being gored.”

Even so, most union members – including more than a few cops and firefighters – saw through Walker’s scam and voted for Barrett.

A lot of them figure Walker is taking a page from Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ playbook. Walker is a big fan of Daniels, who has used the same “divide and conquer” scheme to hobble Hoosier unions.

When he first took office in 2005, Daniels nixed collective bargaining for state employees.

At the same time, he promised not to push a right-to-work law. Walker says he won’t either, for now.

Earlier this year, Daniels got behind a right-to-work bill which passed the Republican-majority Indiana legislature. If the Republicans win back the state senate in November, I’d bet the dairy farm, Walker will work overtime to add Wisconsin to the roll of right-to-work states.

Walker has a history with right-to-work, writes Jack Craver of the Capital Times online in Madison. “The governor, who sponsored unsuccessful right-to-work legislation as a state legislator, refused to state a position on the issue throughout the campaign, insisting that it would not come up in the near future.”

Right-to-work laws are designed to weaken or wipe out all unions by allowing workers to enjoy union-won pay and benefits without joining the union and paying union dues.

Meanwhile, Kentucky, too, had a near close encounter of the worst kind with Walker. Last year, he came to stump for Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Williams, a pro-right-to work Walker wannabe.

Union-endorsed Gov. Steve Beshear beat Williams in a landslide and won a second term.

Bluegrass State labor leader Jeff Wiggins thinks union members who voted for Walker will rue the day they helped keep him in office. “Their time is coming, too,” predicted Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council.

Also president of Steelworkers Local 9447 and a member of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board, Wiggins said Wisconsin union members who voted for Walker elevated “selfishness over solidarity.

“It’s this ‘I’ve got mine and let everybody else get theirs’ attitude. Republicans like Walker, Daniels and Williams love for working people to think that way — it’s what the Republicans think.”

Of course, pitting workers against each other is one of the oldest union-busting strategies around. It’s what Gould meant.

Anyway, those Wisconsin union members who voted for Walker though he shafted thousands of other union members put Wiggins and me in mind of “Ode to A Scab,” attributed to Jack London:

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out.

No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Berry CraigEsau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust, or corporation.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.

Berry Craig

Posted: Sunday, 10 June 2012

This just in: Daniels told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that all public sector unions should be abolished. Walker’s hero said he thinks “government works better without them.” Will Walker agree? It’s an interesting poser, especially for the Dairy State cops and firefighters who voted for Walker.


  1. RonF says

    “Walker “won 37% of union households in 2010 and 38% in 2012 — about the
    number that polls show represents the percentage of voters in union
    households that are Republican.”

    The public sector worker unions have no one to blame but themselves for this.  They goot too greedy and killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.  They kept using their leverage as a) a monopoly that b) is able to take money that the taxpayers gave for paying for roads to be fixed, etc.,. and use it as campaign contributions to bribe c) a management (the politicians) that’s not themselves fiscally at risk for what they pay the public workers.  So the private sector workers see public sector workers retire at 55 with fat pensions and politicians raking in big campaign contributions while they get fleeced to pay for it all and say “This has got to stop.”  The public sector workers treated the public as the enemy.  Now the public is fighting back.

  2. Ryder says

    Union’s are, by definition, selfish.  Those that supported Walker may have simply become aware that *freedom* is more important that muscle…. the muscle to get what you want at any cost to others.

    Although in this case the Public Sector unions are not real unions.  FDR said, quite specifically, that unions of public employees are an impossibility to sustain.

    There must be no such thing as a public sector union, because it is a truly horrific idea.  For a number of reasons:

    1 – Public sector unions are not balanced by someone opposed to their demands, so no true compromise can ever be attained.  Politicians take from the people and give to employees that then campaign in their favor… a re-election system paid for by the taxpayers.

    2 – The Public sector employee is employed by *the people*, and it is insufferable that such persons would hold the workings of the government hostage as leverage toward their demands.  No suitable alternative exists.  If workers strike at Burger King, you can go to MacDonalds… but where do you go for another DMV or another police force or fire department?

    3 – The public sector employees can’t kill the organization that hired them.  In the private sector, employee unions that go too far, and kill their own organization and are themselves destroyed in the process.  The unions that are overly powerful and aggressive will perish by Darwinian means.  The public sector can’t really fail because the government has the capacity to literally print money to fund it forever (which is what is happening now).

    4 – The public sector employee enjoys employment in a sector that has no competition.  There isn’t another police force the people can choose… there isn’t another DMV or public school system to move to.  They work for organizations that are (generally) immune to failure.  The schools, the police, fire, courts, corrections, and on and on and on, will be around forever, and can not close.  This is a level of job security that is more than adequate to compensate for not being able to unionize.

    FDR knew it.  Why don’t democrats today understand this?  Oh, well, I guess some still do.

    And that’s the point.


    • webcelt says

       I just responded to that point about FDR made in another comment. How many of you guys are running around repeating that falsehood? Do you just not care that it isn’t true? Just not bothering to look at the original letter before repeating the talking point?

      • Ryder says

        It’s actually VERY true, sorry to inform you… 

        Go to The American Presidency Project, and see the FDR letter from Aug 16, 1937.

        I shall quote it for you here: 

        Nowhere in this letter does he give approval of any kind to public sector unions… he notes merely that it is natural and logical for public sector employees to want to…. then he continues ” … but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.
        All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”Do you even know what collective bargaining is?  “…but he fully approved of them seeking improvements for their members.” It seems that you don’t.   Collectively seeking “improvements” at the bargaining table ******is****** collective bargaining.

        FDR is plain and clear on this matter.  “It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

        What part of distinct and insurmountable is confusing?

        • webcelt says

          I urge anyone reading this to read the letter for themselves, not just bit out of context with conservative spin.

  3. Hwood007 says

    Perhaps union members are evolving, many of them do not like their dues being managed my the bosses and given to whom ever the bosses want elected to office.

    My second point is to look to the past and discover the thoughts of public unions by former Presidents, and be sure to read the many opinions stated by the great leader of the  left, ie; FDR.  He was aganist public unions but in favor of private unions.  Many of us agree with this.  What would you do if your military started a walk-out because your government is sending them into combat too often?  What if the military wanted more pay and benefits?  Think of all the things that the GM union members ask for and then ask yourself if you wanted your military to ask for such things and would stop working if they did not get what they wanted?  Anyone thinking a union is OK for the US Army is not thinking well.

    Why would the same people want a union for other public service people???

    • webcelt says

       That’s a myth that FDR disapproved of public unions. You can look up his letter to the federal employees union. He thought they couldn’t have the same collective bargaining rights, specifically the right to strike, but he fully approved of them seeking improvements for their members.

      • Hwood007 says

        you can believe what you want but it will not make it fact, but will be anopinion.  I lived whenFDR did and he did NOT want unions in the governments, any government.  The unions in private firms were OK and he approved of them. To look at the govenment and unions in reverse, tell me what happened to the GM bonds, to whom was the value given, and why was that legal???

      • Hwood007 says

        Without collective gargaining rights, public unions should have another name as that is the most powerful tool the unions have.  we agree, FDR did not want unions to have that right if they worked for governments. Do you think the Army should have a union? 

        • webcelt says

          Just read the letter. Yes, he was OK with bargaining. It was just strikes he thought shouldn’t be allowed. So I guess you and FDR agreed on something. I bet that feels weird.

  4. Linda Doran says

    What this article misses, and I think it’s important, is why union members voted for Walker, other than rather vaguely attributing their votes to selfishness. What motivated or persuaded them? They have to know they’re all in it together. Maybe they perceive the unions as ineffective and they see an opportunity for advancement without the unions. Maybe they feel a personal connection, as union members who voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger in California (as described by George Lakoff), to some aspect of Walker’s celebrity or personality. Maybe they believe, albeit somewhat delusionally, that they, too, can become more like the 1 percent if they are not too closely allied with the unions. Maybe they’re just unhappy and looking for a scapegoat. I raise these issues because it strikes me that unions and their supporters need to organize and educate people in a way that successfully overcomes such attitudes.

    • RonF says

       “They have to know they’re all in it together.”

      No.  They don’t.  The public worker unions have treated the public like it’s the enemy for decades, threatening to shut down essential services like fire and police protection and education.  The public is finally returning the favor.  If the public worker unions had treated the public with some appreciation and deference then they’d have support from the public – but they have continually slapped the public in the face.  They have now gotten the response they deserve.

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