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Scott Walker's Wisconsin recall victory: A death knell for Big Labor?
Labor groups pulled out all the stops against the union-busting governor. What does their stinging defeat mean for their already dwindling fortunes?
 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to workers at Quad Graphics: The Republican's recall win, along with dwindling union membership, may force Big Labor to re-strategize.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to workers at Quad Graphics: The Republican's recall win, along with dwindling union membership, may force Big Labor to re-strategize.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Unions made it their mission to take down Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in this week's recall election, rallying opposition for months and spending millions of dollars on the fight. Then they got demolished at the polls, in a vote that cemented Walker's power, made him a rising GOP star, and locked in the legislation Walker championed to limit public-sector unions' collective bargaining power. Liberals and conservatives alike predict that the drubbing may hasten Big Labor's decline, and embolden leaders in other states to follow Walker's lead and go after unions. Does Walker's big win really spell doom for Big Labor?

This is another nail in Big Labor's coffin: Public-sector unions are in big trouble, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. These groups have long been "a key part of the Democratic Party's coalition," but "the share of the labor force that's unionized has been dropping for decades." And Wisconsin proves that unions are unable "to reverse their own sructural decline." People have long wondered how to revive the labor movement. "The truth is, at this point, you probably can't."
"Wisconsin recall shows labor isn't coming back. So what's next?"

Labor just needs a new strategy: Unions haven't "reached the bottom," says David Dayen at Firedoglake. The deck was stacked against them in Wisconsin, as Walker's "anti-worker law" weakened unions by pushing thousands of members to quit. Plus, a flood of outside money helped stir up middle-class voters' envy over union pensions and health benefits. You can bet that unions will have plenty more chances to come up with a winning strategy, since "every other state currently led by conservatives will be next."
"Every other state currently led by conservatives will be next"

Maybe this will finally knock some sense into Big Labor: Walker did unions a favor — by liberating them from "the soothing illusion" that people actually agree with them, says Jim Geraghty at National Review. Perhaps Americans once sympathized with Big Labor, "but it is no longer the case, and no amount of spin can change that. Better for these organizations to confront the hard truth, and work to earn back that trust of members and the public at large, than to insist that all is well and ignore the problems."
"How Scott Walker helped unions and Democrats tonight"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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