Workers and students have won a victory by ousting Walker, but his legacy still remains
ETHAN COSTELLO | firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Walker is defeated in Wisconsin, and that should be celebrated. Wisconsin has a better platform for pushing back against backwards policies with newly elected Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barne, respectively. It is a good thing for Wisconsin workers and students that Walker is out, but the struggle continues. Walker’s legacy of destroying unions and workers’ power was unmatched. His slashing of education has its ramifications. The consequences of Walker’s governance will persist until his work can be undone. As it is looking, due to national right-to-work laws and a majority right-wing State Assembly, Wisconsin is looking at a stagnant future.
In 2011, Walker destabilized labor unions with Act 10, a policy that took away unions right to collectively bargain. This caused a sharp decrease in union benefits and membership. But Walker’s policy also has a federal twin in the Janus vs. AFSCME ruling. This Supreme Court case pitted Mark Janus, an Illinois employee against his union. Janus felt that because labor unions are inherently political, he should be allowed to refuse paying dues under the First Amendment free speech rights. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Janus. This consequently allows union members to refuse to pay dues allowing them to “free ride” on union benefits. Now that Walker’s ideas have been upheld nationwide—even if Evers manages to repeal Act 10 in Wisconsin—unions will still be distraught in Wisconsin.
Even at the beginning, Evers will have an uphill battle. The State Senate and Assembly are both held by a conservative majority, and Republicans in the past had been planning to attack unions for a long time. Evers will likely have a better chance at restoring Wisconsin’s education budget rather than repealing Act 10.
Evers can only do so much, considering the state of the legislature. It is now up to us to continue the fight. We need to pressure our representatives to fight for progressive changes to our education and to our workplaces by calling their offices and demanding increase to education funding. We need to continue to organize within our communities, campuses and workplaces to spread awareness because, after all, we can only gain ground if we keep pushing forward. Change happens on the grassroots level when people come together en masse to stand for what they consider to be right. Any great movement of history started small and, through hard work, grew into something grander. Let’s educate and intigate to move Wisconsin forward! In Solidarity.
Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.