President Obama released a fiery statement that called out Gov. Scott Walker for weakening the middle-class and after he signed a bill that turned Wisconsin into a right to work state.
In a statement, the president said:
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions – workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions, and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today. So it’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government.
So I’m deeply disappointed that a new anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy. Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past. So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans – by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy – not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.
In typical Walker fashion the governor claimed that his crushing defeat of economic opportunity was a victory for workers, “This legislation puts power back in the hands of Wisconsin workers, by allowing the freedom to choose whether they want to join a union and pay union dues. This also gives Wisconsin one more tool to encourage job creators, like those here at Badger Meter, to continue investing and expanding in our state. Freedom to Work, along with our investments in worker training, and our work to lower the tax burden, will lead to more freedom and prosperity for all of Wisconsin.”
According to a 2011 study from the Economic Policy Institute, workers in right to work states earn less money, “Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic variables as well as state macroeconomic indicators. Using the average wage in non-RTW states as the base ($22.11), the average full-time, full-year worker in an RTW state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state.”
President Obama directly took on Walker, because the Wisconsin governor is trying to ride a wave of harming workers the whole way to the White House. Scott Walker’s failed economic policies have wrecked the economy in Wisconsin. His signing of the right to work bill is par for the course.
It is rare to see a president take on a governor, but President Obama has become the nation’s primary defender of worker rights. The politics are obvious. The president is standing in for Hillary Clinton by filling the role of the 2016 Democratic opposition until Clinton announces her candidacy. The shadow of 2016 looms large over both Walker’s bill, and Obama’s response.
The president hit Walker hard and made sure that Republican destruction of worker rights does not go unchallenged.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association