Gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pledged Thursday that if elected governor in a June recall election, he would call a special session of the Legislature to reinstate collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Joined at the Capitol by Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, Barrett emphasized job creation and economic growth in efforts to promote his self-proclaimed “multifaceted approach of restoring collective bargaining.”
In his proposed strategy, Barrett offered multiple routes to achieving the restoration of collective bargaining, including a call for a special session of the Legislature and the introduction of a stand-alone bill.
According to Barrett, Gov. Scott Walker’s reversal of 50 years of public sector labor laws has put Wisconsin in a state of “ideological civil war” with jobs as the victim.
“As a result of this ideological war, there have been casualties, and there is no doubt that the first casualties that occurred were jobs,” Barrett said. “Gov. Walker said time and time again that he would create 250,000 jobs in the state of Wisconsin, but by putting his energy into creating a divisive state, this state has fallen further and further behind in the creation of jobs.”
Taylor and Erpenbach said Barrett’s strategy to restore collective bargaining would aid to reverse the job loss in the private sector, maximize flexibility, take advantage of the political momentum and provide multiple opportunities for success.
Nonetheless, Barrett said he believes bringing forward a stand-alone bill for collective bargaining rights would put the spotlight on the Republican-controlled Assembly and raise support for collective bargaining rights.
“I believe that now with a year under our belts, and knowing what this is all about, the Republican Assembly caucus will realize it is not worth taking away people’s collective bargaining rights,” Barrett said. “Everyone has recognized that public employees are paying more for their health insurance and toward their pensions.”
However, Walker spokesperson Tom Evenson said in an email to The Badger Herald he believes while Barrett stands with “big government special interests,” Walker’s actions with collective bargaining have consistently put the government back on the side of Wisconsin taxpayers.
Evenson questioned what Barrett himself would have done had he been in Walker’s position.
“Today, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett made a pledge to the big government union bosses to take Wisconsin back to the broken policies of the past, but he refuses to answer how he would have balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit other than tax increases on hard working Wisconsinites,” Evenson said.
At an April Democratic gubernatorial debate, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said more than a special session is needed to reinstate collective bargaining and promised as governor to veto any budget that did not reinstate it.
Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said at the debate enough votes to restore collective bargaining might exist after recall elections but did not promise to veto or commit to a special session.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette said at the debate that full control of the Legislature would be needed to reinstate collective bargaining rights and he would try to help elect Republican and Democrats who would vote for it.