Walker survives recount...what does it mean?
Everyone and their mother is trying to figure out exactly just what this week's recall election vote in Wisconsin means. Republican Governor Scott Walker fought off a challenge by the Democrat Mayor of Milwaukee rather handily and stays in office, reportedly the first governor in history to survive a recall vote. At the core is unions. Last year, in order to curb government spending, Walker proposed changing some of the contributions union members had to make to their retirement plans and insurance, which touched off a firestorm of protest in the union-heavy state of Wisconsin. After a month of protests and the occupation of the State Capitol, union supporters organized a petition drive to hold a recall election for Walker, which took place Tuesday, and he won. The Twin Cities and national newspapers, radio and t.v. stations have shown union supporters absolutely crushed by the news that Walker fended off their attack. One person was quoted tearfully proclaiming "democracy as we know it is over!" Personally I have mixed feelings on unions. For one thing, I feel they are too powerful, especially the teachers' unions. However, the Wisconsin vote may show the era of the all-powerful teachers' unions may be on the wane. Unions at private employers, like manufacturers definately have a place. My dad was a member of the machinists' union at Northwest Airlines, and as a result made a good wage and supported a family of 8 on one income. He also went on strike many times in the late 60s to the mid 70s. But I have grave doubts about the role of unions when the employer is the taxpayer, meaning you and I. Their wages are determined by a publicly elected school board or board of trustees. This is my 30th year doing radio news, and I cannot remember a year when teachers' unions weren't screaming for more money...not just in Minnesota, but in Iowa, Wyoming and South Dakota too. And when the Wisconsin teachers cried out, their benefit and wage packages were made public, and when the ordinary working stiff saw how good the public employees had it, the recall was doomed to fail. I just got off the phone with former DFL Representative Al Juhnke who now works for U.S. Senator Al Franken, and both have said they don't see the Wisconsin vote as a litmus test for November's election...there's a long time to go and people have short memories. If that's true, then the exit polling done by ABC that showed people who voted to keep Walker will also vote to keep Obama may also mean nothing.