"Through his use of Act 10 against the workers in Milwaukee [Barrett] has shown that he is not deserving of support of unions in Wisconsin," says Dan Suárez, a member of the TAA and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UW-Madison. Barrett made use of Walker's collective bargaining restrictions in Act 10 to increase pension and health care contributions for workers employed by the city of Milwaukee. Barrett has said he took those steps to avoid layoffs of public workers.
Without an endorsement, the TAA won't expend any of its volunteer or financial resources on electing Barrett, although individual members are still free to contribute as they wish.
"What this means for the TAA is that the conversation is going to shift back to how to meaningfully and effectively rebuild our membership [instead of wasting] time and money on supporting a candidate who doesn't care about us," says Suárez.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zielinski bristles at the suggestion that Democrats aren't committed to defending organized labor. "The attack on collective bargaining was the original sin that sparked this movement," says Zielinksi. "Scott Walker's total dishonesty with the public on the matter of collective bargaining informs every inch of what we do going forward."
But a well-publicized memo (PDF) outlining the Democrats' messaging strategy for the recall election makes little mention of collective bargaining and lays out a range of alternative issues as the recall campaign's focus. In an interview for Mother Jones magazine, Zielinksi defended the strategy, stating, "Collective bargaining isn’t moving people."
May 29, 2012
"The UW's Teaching Assistants' Association has declined to endorse Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who faces Walker in the June 5 recall election..."
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