Labor angry about Governor Walker visit to Seattle: "We don't want him here"
Union executive Dianne Gross of the MLK County Labor Council and the Washington State Labor Council expressed angry opposition to the upcoming visit to Seattle of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The comments were made in a live interview August 17th with KIRO radio's Jason Rantz.
Walker will join noted surgeon Dr. Ben Carson as an honoree at this year's Washington Policy Center Champion of Freedom Awards Dinner September 5th at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle. The annual gala event is sold out.
On KIRO Gross cited an article in the union newsletter The Stand calling Walker "delusional," adding, "We don't want him here." Show host Rantz termed it an "unwelcome committee."
Labor executives are worried that Walker's workplace protections, which allow workers to not pay union dues and still keep their jobs, will undermine the union's forced-dues business model here in Washington. Union executives lost millions in Wisconsin when a change in the law there expanded worker rights.
In retaliation, union executives sought in 2012 to defeat Walker in a recall election. Instead, the people of Wisconsin confirmed Walker in office by a higher percentage (54%) than when they first elected him in 2010. In the meantime, the jobless rate in Wisconsin has fallen under Walker from 7.7% to 6.8%.
Perhaps the most informative exchange came toward the end of the 16-minute interview.
Rantz asked about the pattern of unions giving campaign money, time and volunteers to helping elect our state's chief executive, most recently Governor Jay Inslee, then sitting down to negotiate with him for higher pay and better benefits in secret, closed-door collective bargaining meetings.
Rantz described it as, "You are sort of bargaining and negotiating with people that you are paying to help get into office. At the very bare minimum that seems a little bit of a conflict."
Gross said it was the same and completely separate from private business trying to get their business location and getting funding from the state when they talk to the governor and to lawmakers, and she denied her unions are paying for influence.
Gross: "Do we want someone good in there so we can talk to them - absolutely - it has no pay for play."
Rantz: "You can't concede there might be a conflict, at least perception-wise, that you're paying to put someone in office that you end up negotiating with?"
Gross: (laughter) "I mean come on...you are totaling trying to turn this into something that...it's the political process, sir...[unintelligible]
Check out the whole interview.