Ohio

Ohio Unions Dump Member Dues into Failing Wisconsin Recall Election

Organizations

Ohio union front group We Are Ohio announced it was joining the foundering recall attempt against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a May 30 e-mail. Unions and other left-wing groups have been attacking Walker for more than a year after Walker signed public-sector union reforms passed by the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature. While Republicans claim the bill gave local municipalities much-needed tools to restructure their finances, union bosses insist the policies are “anti-worker” and must be overturned.

According to the breathless message from We Are Ohio communications director Dennis Willard, “30 phonebank locations around Ohio” have been set up to assist We Are Wisconsin’s recall efforts. Phone bank locations include the Ohio AFL-CIO office in Columbus, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 82 office in Dayton, and the Cleveland Teachers’ Union Local 279 office in Cleveland.

Willard, a former Statehouse bureau reporter for the Akron Beacon-Journal, also encouraged Ohioans to travel to Wisconsin to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) defeat Walker on June 5. A note on We Are Wisconsin’s website explains that the group is unable to provide hotel or travel arrangements for volunteers.

In 2011, over 47 percent of We Are Ohio’s funding came from out-of-state unions. The National Education Association, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and several other D.C. unions each donated more than $1 million to We Are Ohio.

In Wisconsin, an estimated $1 billion in taxpayer money has been saved due to Walker’s reforms, and more than 6,500 teachers were able to keep their jobs, according to a recent Suffolk University study.

Despite the group’s creed of “protecting and creating jobs for all Ohioans,” all five of the listed contacts for We Are Ohio’s planned interference in the Wisconsin electoral process are members of the AFL-CIO. Willard’s call to action includes no explanation of how replacing another state’s governor spurs job creation in Ohio.

In addition to a promise of reinforcements, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees — one of the many in-state unions funding We Are Ohio — noted that it would be donating $36,770 to We Are Wisconsin. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees (an AFSCME local) is Ohio’s largest union for public school staff, whose salaries are paid with money collected from taxpayers.

We Are Wisconsin’s leadership positions, ironically, are filled by out-of-state political operatives. This stands in contradiction to the grassroots-populist image the group uses in its efforts to raise taxes and replace reform-minded politicians with union-minded tax hikers.

According to recent polls from the state, We Are Wisconsin’s efforts may be in vain, perhaps prompting We Are Ohio to ride in as the cavalry. A Marquette University Law School survey of likely voters conducted May 23 through 26 showed Walker leading Barrett by 7 percentage points.

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