08/17/2011

Wisconsin Voters Support Senators Who Stood by Workers

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Voters in Wisconsin went to the polls on Aug. 16 for the fourth time in five weeks, this time in two recall elections initiated by Republicans to punish state senators who stood up against Gov. Scott Walker's attacks on working people. In the latest results, Wisconsinites voted overwhelmingly to support the incumbent Democratic candidates in a clear repudiation of Walker's undemocratic agenda. (See earlier story on the recall elections.)

"This is a victory for all those in Wisconsin who, for more than six months, have used their voices and their vote to uphold the values of democracy and opportunity, and to reject the governor's assault on workers' rights under the guise of budget-cutting," AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

Just 10 months after Walker carried each of the Senate districts in which recall elections were held, more total votes were cast statewide for the labor-endorsed candidates than for the Walker-endorsed candidates. The three Democrats who faced recall efforts were among the 14 state senators who left the state to try to block Walker's anti-worker legislation. All three won.

However, Weingarten notes, there were powerful forces arrayed against our friends in Wisconsin, and opponents of Walker's agenda fell just short of recalling a third Republican state senator, which would have shifted control of the state Senate. "But much has been gained in this process," she adds. "The labor movement in Wisconsin is as vibrant as I have ever seen it. And their alliances with others who value fairness, justice and voice are strong and extensive."

As the host of political and economic challenges across the country gained momentum last winter, the AFT's mantra became "fight hard and fight smart." That is exactly what our colleagues in Wisconsin—with a little help from their friends—have done, Weingarten says.

"As I have said many times and say again now with great admiration, I could not be prouder of our folks in Wisconsin," she emphasizes. "They led this fight, with the help that you and we gave them, and they have reaffirmed the values of our movement. I hope that, once their exhaustion lifts, they feel our enormous gratitude for their tireless efforts and their historic, principled stand. I want to thank you all, as well, for your support for them every step of the way."

August 17, 2011