Dave Davies, Dan Kaufman, Two Weeks discussed on Fresh Air

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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

To the interview fresh air's dave davies recorded with dan kaufman author of a new book about the state of wisconsin dramatic political shift from blue to red it's called the fall of wisconsin when they left off there were talking about wisconsin's current governor conservative scott walker and two thousand eleven he signed a landmark law act ten that restricted the power of public employee unions to bargain collectively perhaps their primary function it took away the main incentive for employees to pay union dues and join the union at ten let the protests from democrats and union activists at the wisconsin state capital that lasted more than two weeks a lot of us will remember seeing was the wisconsin state capital jammed with protesters day and night you talked to an awful lot of democrats in a lot of union activists and community activists how did they feel about the union movement and the democratic party's response to this proposal when act ten was still being debated well i think they felt a lot of sympathy with the state representatives that went to eleanor they were very proud of them for doing that they felt a lot of anger towards national democrats for what they felt was abandoning this important fight for example president barack obama in two thousand seven had said in south carolina that if anyone attacks collective bargaining rights i'm going to put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes and march with people now when they did exactly that in wisconsin he didn't come nor did he come during a subsequent recall election after act ten was passed that was also a legacy that progressive era where you could recall your state officials if you collected a quarter of the signatures of those that voted they collected nearly a million signatures to recall scott walker but they were kind of left to their own in fact president obama's deputy press secretary stephanie cutter said this has nothing to do with president obama even though tom barrett walkers opponent had pleaded with obama to come and help now scott walker in two thousand eleven specifically aimed his attacks at public employee unions and there are other unions particularly building trades unions who were not particularly sympathetic to public employee's this is a division i've seen in a lot of states where their labor is not always united how did that play out in wisconsin play it well walker one about a third of union households in all of his election so definitely divide and conquer is an effective strategy but then after walker passed a right to work line two thousand fifteen a lot of them expressed profound regret one of them that i follow closely in the book randy bryce who is now running for speaker of the house paul ryan's congressional seat was extremely cognizant of what the intention was and and he describes people in his local coming up to him and regretting this vote for walker they didn't see it coming they thought they were different they thought they were special and in some ways president trump has instituted the same strategy he is spoken to the national conference of building trades trying to say you know you're the good guys we we like what you do but these other people you know not so much and that's effective let's just clarify the term right to work bill that sounds like a good thing in what sense is it antiunion well it makes paying union fees voluntary however the union still obligated to represent you in agreements so that weakens the union's financial position so it starves the union of funds so scott walker survives reelection campaign after beating the recall election and then in two thousand sixteen the presidential election arrived in wisconsin as it does in the rest of the country the democratic primary bernie sanders beats hillary clinton by thirteen points why did hillary clinton have trouble connecting to democratic voters in wisconsin think several reasons one she has never been a close ally of labor wisconsin progressives were deeply wounded by the attacks on labor she was a former corporate board member of walmart and notoriously anti union company and she also supported for many many years of free trade agreements like nafta and the china's membership into the world trade organization that have really impacted the industrial midwest in such a profound way people are aware that you can drive by a factory and they'll say oh this factory moved to mexico and then went on to vietnam they are very keenly aware other factors played a role automation and so on but these agreements really impacted particularly.

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