Statement from MEA President on Wisconsin recall election

East Lansing, Mich., June 6, 2012 - The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook in response to yesterday’s gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin:

“Tom Barrett’s loss to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in yesterday’s recall election, while disappointing, sends a strong signal to those who have worked to destroy collective bargaining rights and the voice of working people:  we will not forget.

“Shortly after being elected in 2010, Walker pursued an agenda designed to destroy collective bargaining for public sector unions in an effort to silence their voice not only at the bargaining table, but ultimately in the political arena.  In a congressional hearing earlier this year, Walker admitted that he did not disclose his agenda to dismantle public sector unions in his campaign for governor.  Walker also conceded that the anti union legislation has not saved the state money.  Clearly, the attacks on unions in Wisconsin, like those in our state were politically motivated.

“The attack on unions that we have seen here in Michigan, in Ohio and throughout the Midwest began early last year in Wisconsin.  I am proud that MEA leaders, rank and file members and staff answered the call – from February 2011 to present – to work alongside working families and union members from all walks of organized labor to fight this attack.

“Although the Barrett campaign was outspent 8 to 1 as a result of wealthy, out-of-state individuals flooding Wisconsin with millions of dollars in unreported contributions, the people of Wisconsin stood up to this effort by those who would buy their election.

“The attacks on collective bargaining in Wisconsin and Ohio reawakened the labor movement in those states, just as the attacks on collective bargaining and the middle class here in Michigan have reawakened union members and non-members alike.  Wisconsin fought back, Ohio fought back, and we in Michigan are fighting back.

“This fall, voters in Michigan will have the opportunity to restore collective bargaining rights and protect wages and benefits that have been eroded by our Legislature and Governor in favor of corporate special interests. The ‘Protect Our Jobs’ campaign will be working hard through summer and fall to educate voters about this historic ballot initiative to protect collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution.”

Contact:  Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-896-4465