The Slatest

Labor’s Short and (Not-So) Sweet Response to Scott Walker’s Campaign Launch

Ah, memories: Protestors shout outside the office of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as he signs a copy of the budget repair bill on March 11, 2011, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Gov. Scott Walker, at long last, made his well-known presidential ambitions official on Monday. “I’m in. I’m running for president because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them,” the Wisconsin Republican tweeted ahead of his formal campaign kickoff later today. Walker’s announcement, as expected, didn’t exactly receive a warm reception from union leaders. Here, for instance, was the full statement released by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”

Walker has become the archenemy of the AFL-CIO and other union organizations in recent years. Since being elected in 2010, he has rarely missed an opportunity to try to dismantle organized labor in the Badger State. Walker eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public employees in 2011—an act that prompted massive protests at the state capitol and forced a recall election the following year. Earlier this year Walker handed unions another stinging defeat when he signed “right-to-work” legislation into law that prevents unions from requiring workers in their industries to pay dues or fees (in return for benefitting from the union’s collective bargaining power). Walker’s victories—and the unions’ losses—were all the more stunning because of the state’s general liberal leanings, along with the fact that Wisconsin was the first in the nation to provide its public employees with collective bargaining rights.

Walker, meanwhile, wears labor’s disdain for him as a badge of honor, and his success in taking on unions is pretty much the chief pillar of his GOP campaign. “In the Republican field, there are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles,” Walker says in a video released by his campaign on Monday. “And there are others who’ve won elections, but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the 2016 campaign.