It was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's surprise assault on public-employee unions in 2011 that set in motion the statewide recall campaign to oust him from office. But don't expect Wisconsin's Democratic Party to make workers' rights a central focus in their quest to oust Walker.
In an interview, an official with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin downplayed the importance of the anti-union provisions in Walker's "budget repair" bill in the Democrats' broader recall strategy. "Collective bargaining is not moving people," says Graeme Zielinski, a Democratic Party spokesman. And in the party's new strategy memo (PDF) for defeating Walker, there's little mention of collective bargaining or organized labor in the Democrats' messaging plans.
Walker's controversial anti-union legislation, known as Act 10, curbed collective bargaining rights for most public employees and made it harder for unions to recertify and collect dues from their members. (A federal judge later ruled that the recertification and dues provisions weren't legal.) When Walker introduced the bill—"dropped the bomb," as he put it—and threatened to sic the National Guard on angry public workers, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Madison, the state capital; thousands more occupied the Capitol rotunda.