In clear defiance of the will of Wisconsin voters, Republican legislators have passed a last-minute power grab in Madison before Gov.-elect Tony Evers takes office. These new measures will limit early voting, stymie the power of the newly elected Democratic attorney general and funnel new authority to lawmakers on state litigation.
Following the lame-duck Wisconsin state Legislature’s vote to strip newly elected Democratic leaders of their power before they even take office, labor leaders are speaking out on behalf of Wisconsin’s voters.
“In a democracy, you don’t get to change the rules just because you don’t like the results of an election,” AFT President Randi Weingarten says. “Elections have consequences. When the people of Wisconsin cast their ballots last month, they made a clear choice to reject the slash-and-burn politics of Gov. Scott Walker in favor of Tony Evers. They voted for a Democratic agenda to provide the people of Wisconsin with access to affordable healthcare and high-quality public education. They voted for a brighter future for themselves and their communities.”
AFT leadership in Wisconsin joined Weingarten in voicing their opposition.
“The people of Wisconsin don’t want this,” says AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas. “We’ve lived through years of attacks on our collective bargaining rights, cuts to our healthcare, and tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. Now, Republicans are trying to strip us of our voice in the state government, which we won back because we saw how dangerous their policies are to working families. We worked hard to elect Tony Evers, and we’ll fight back against these efforts to strip him of his ability to fight for us.”
Candice Owley, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, agrees: “Wisconsin Republicans are ignoring the will of the people who teach their kids, take care of their families when they’re sick, and instruct at the state’s universities—the very people who voted them out of office in favor of real problem solvers who get the needs of everyday people and want to help them. Those voices won’t be silenced by an authoritarian attempt to install power, instead of electing it.”
Over the past few days, Democratic lawmakers in the state have vehemently opposed these bills. Protestors also flooded into Madison, making their anger known with peaceful protests inside and outside the Statehouse. Despite this outcry, the legislation passed along party lines, and there is little doubt that Gov. Walker will sign these bills into law.
When Gov.-elect Evers takes his place at the helm of Wisconsin government, eight years of one-party rule will end. The AFT and our allies are committed to making sure power grabs like this never happen again.