Walker Using Layoffs As Political Weapon? Deja Vu All Over Again

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There has been justifiable outrage over Gov. Scott Walker’s candid and controversial conversation with a blogger he thought was billionaire conservative money-machine David Koch.

In the conversation, Gov. Walker admitted that he was using threatened layoffs as a political cudgel to try and break the will of the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who have mobilized across the state in opposition to the Walker’s bill. Walker says:

So, we’re trying about 4 or 5 different angles and each day we crank up a little bit more pressure, but the other thing I’ve got layoff notices ready, we’ll put out the at-risk notices, we’ll announce Thursday, they’ll go out early next week, probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at risk notices of layoffs, we might rachet that up a little bit too.

It was a shocking admission. The governor of the state of Wisconsin using the livelihoods of thousands and thousands as his weapon to defeat his political opponents. And he was willing to brag about it.

To any of us who have watched the way Gov. Walker operates and his willingness to put partisan politics above all else, it had a familiar ring.

Turns out, Walker did a similar thing in November 2009, admitting to Madison radio host Sly that he was threatening pink slips for workers just before the holidays “to get their attention.”

Here’s the audio clip from that broadcast November 2, 2009:

They got all worked up over announcing layoffs – we don’t announce them in a public forum, we actually allow supervisors and managers in their own departments to tell people about those. Somehow, the County Board after seven and a half years of me being here thinks I’m gonna change the process from what we’ve done every time before. In the end, I actually drew Holloway in and the Finance and Audit Committee Chairman in Friday and said, ‘I’ve got an alternative,’ – they went along with it and so, we avoided layoffs for now, and instead may be looking at additional furlough days or other additional things in the future to keep the budget intact.

But I needed to get their attention to show how serious we were about having a balanced budget.

It is appalling that in the midst of unemployment and economic uncertainty, Gov. Walker only cares about serving his Wall Street masters, appeasing donors like Koch and using any and all means necessary to attack the rights of working men and women.

All of this is a reminder about what Gov. Walker’s real motivations are.

And why during his 20-minute call with “David,” none of the shared sacrifice Walker has professed to want was mentioned.

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Scot Ross served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute from 2007 to 2019.