I Am Gov. Scott Walker, Destroyer of Unions: NYT Reaches Out to Its Prime Walker Basher Again

More proof arrived on Sunday (as if any more were needed) that the New York Times will never forgive conservative Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for successfully taming his state's public unions and then surviving an expensive, union-funded recall election.

Contributing “writer and musician” Dan Kaufman again gained coveted NYT Sunday space to attack Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for at least the third time. It was Kaufman’s most apocalyptic tale yet, in the Sunday Review section: “The Destruction of Progressive Wisconsin.” The text box: “Scott Walker has turned his state into a laboratory for the evisceration of labor.”

Shortly after his exit from an abbreviated presidential run last fall, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin returned to a more successful undertaking: dismantling what remains of his state’s century-old progressive legacy.

Last month, Mr. Walker signed a bill that allowed corporations to donate directly to political parties. On the same day, he signed a law that replaced the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, a body that is responsible for election oversight and enforcing ethics codes, with two commissions made up of partisan appointees. Now a new bill supported by Mr. Walker, which is expected to clear the Republican-dominated Legislature with a Senate vote soon, threatens to corrupt Wisconsin’s Civil Service.


The bill lengthens the probationary period for new employees, during which they can be fired for any reason (or no reason). And it centralizes hiring within the Department of Administration, the most politicized agency in the state’s government. Incoming résumés would be judged by one of the governor’s appointees.

Besides rewriting the hiring process for new employees and the work rules that govern some 30,000 current state workers, the bill highlights Wisconsin’s role as a laboratory for a national conservative strategy to destroy the labor movement. That experiment began in 2011 with the passage of Act 10, which all but ended collective bargaining for the state’s public employees and helped inspire more than a hundred bills across the country attacking public-sector unions.

Last year, Mr. Walker signed a “right-to-work” law that weakened private-sector unions and also marked a significant national turning point: Half of the 50 states are now right-to-work. A national right-to-work bill, which already has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Senator Ted Cruz, appears increasingly possible under a Republican president.

By adding the Civil Service bill, Mr. Walker brings Wisconsin closer to the achievement of a long-sought goal of the libertarian right: universal “at-will employment.” ....

SHudder, not the libertarian right!

After a couple of lame anecdotes offered as evidence of “unfair termination,” Kaufman ended on a melodramatic note, seeing a “culture of fear.”

The people least surprised by Mr. Walker’s reversal were the state’s beleaguered workers. A longtime Wisconsin civil servant told me that she worries about the security of her job if the bill becomes law. “If you’re an at-will employer, you can just tell someone goodbye,” she said, noting that 72 state employees in Arizona had recently been fired indiscriminately.

Despite the long odds of stopping the measure after the failure of large protests against Act 10 and the right-to-work law, the woman quietly helped organize a teach-in last week to raise awareness about the bill. As she talked about her efforts, however, it became clear that a culture of fear had taken root in the Wisconsin workplace. Though she describes herself as a “labor activist,” when I asked if I could use her name she declined. She was too afraid.

It would probably be truly scary to be a Walker supporter in the depths of the Wisconsin bureaucracy.

Kaufman (who also contributes to the far-left Nation magazine) wrote on the same subject for the NYT Sunday Magazine in June 2015: "Labor's Last Stand -- Scott Walker and the dismantling of American unions." Notice that last year Walker was only dismantling; this year he’s going for total “destruction.”

And in May 2012 the mag featured 5,000-words from Kaufman keyed to the then-upcoming Wisconsin recall election, in which Kaufman equated “civility” to supporting left-wing unions.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.