A photograph has emerged of Democrat gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk proudly holding a copy of the pledge that she signed in exchange for union support of her campaign against Governor Walker. Repeated requests for comment on the picture were denied by the Falk campaign.
Falk is a former county executive in Dane County and two-time failed statewide candidate. The date of the recall election has yet to be set, and Falk is already facing competition from one primary challenger, and rumors are swirling that more Democrats could jump into the race. Despite the uncertain state of the race, one matter is crystal clear: Falk is the only candidate to meet secretly with unions and sign a pledge to veto the next state budget if it does not repeal collective bargaining reforms. In exchange for her pledge, Falk landed the endorsement of WEAC, the state teachers union. Just today she managed to secure the endorsement of AFSCME, another union pressuring for the pledge.
Almost as soon as word of the pledge leaked out a firestorm of controversy erupted. Mary Bell, president of the teachers union,denied that she and other union leaders extracted the pledge in exchange for their political support. Bell told the press and public that extracting a veto pledge in exchange for a political endorsement was not something her union would do.
Media Trackers contacted another union official who was present at the meetings between several labor leaders and declared and rumored Democratic gubernatorial candidates to see if Bell was telling the truth. It turns out that she was not telling the truth and that, according to this labor leader, Bell was outright lying to the press and public when she denied that WEAC and other unions asked for the veto pledge.
While opinion leaders and legislators took issue with Falk’s quick sell-out of the state to labor leader demands, Falk only doubled down and defended her decision. Were Falk to keep her word to the unions and actually veto the next state budget at all costs for the sake of unions, it could throw the state’s finances into confusion and result in cuts in healthcare funding for low-income individuals.
Falk’s willingness to defend her decision, and the photograph of her apparently pleased to be touting her alliance with Big Labor, clearly indicate that although the recall Walker effort has been billed as an entirely grassroots movement, powerful special interests in the form of labor unions with a significant chunk of money at stake are pulling the strings. Public sector labor unions are becoming less relevant and important to their members and the once steady stream of mandatory union dues have dried up in the wake of collective bargaining reform. The Wisconsin recall elections are not about workers rights, they are about public employee labor unions and their ability to pay six-figure salaries to their top officials.
This report by Brian Sikma of Media Trackers.