A piece of video has surfaced in the Wisconsin recall race in which Gov. Scott Walker says that his strategy against unions will be “divide and conquer.”
Taken in 2011, the clip shows Walker greeting a billionaire (who would subsequently give $500,000 to his current campaign to stay in office) asking him whether he believes there is “any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work?”
“Oh, yeah,” Walker interjects. When the woman — Diane Hendricks of Beloit, Wisc. — asks what she can do to help, Walker gives a slightly incoherent description of his strategy for dividing and conquering unions.
“We’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,” Walker said. “The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”
The film was taken shortly before Walker shocked Wisconsin by doing exactly what he told Hendricks, using budgetary arguments to push through a bill that greatly reduced the collective bargaining powers of public employees unions. That led through a series of events to the effort to recall Walker, which will come to a final vote June 5. A short clip of the video is being used by the Tom Barrett campaign. Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, is the Dem nominee to replace Walker in the recall.
Reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have seen the video in fuller context and published a transcript of the whole conversation. It doesn’t really get any more coherent than the little bit cited above.
It’s hard to say that it sheds any great new light on Walker’s plan, other than the fact that he uses the cynical phrase “divide and conquer” to a woman who has just asked him about turning Winconsin into a right-to-work state and to highlight Walker’s relationship with the billionaire who subsequently, through a quirk in Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws, was able to give him slightly more than a half a million dollars.
There is one more quote on the longer version of the video that the Journal Sentinel reviewed in which Walker expands on what he means by “divide and conquer.” It goes like this:
“So for us, the base we get for that is the fact that we’ve got – budgetarily we can’t afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there’s no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out. . . . That opens the door once we do that. That’s your bigger problem right there.”
That’s pretty incoherent, but my understanding is that Walker is saying that using a budgetary justification, the state will greatly weaken the public employee unions and that will “open the door” for private employers to extract similar concessions from private sector unions.
The video clip that’s being used by the Barrett campaign is below: