Walker’s last shot at unions gave jobs to costly, controversial defense contractor

By David Edwards
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 14:28 EDT
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The Republican governor at the center of a proposal in Wisconsin to strip unions of their rights has tried his hand and at union busting before and failed.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed Monday that in 2009, Scott Walker tried to replace the unionized security contractors at the county courthouse and two other buildings — and he wanted to replace them with private guards from a highly controversial defense contractor, no less.

As Milwaukee County Executive, Walker promised that he could save the county more than $750,000 a year by firing the union employees and hiring the private contractor Wackenhut, a firm that was caught up in a sexual deviancy scandal in Afghanistan that same year.

After his plan was blocked by the county board, Walker unilaterally insisted that he had the power to do it anyway, thanks to what he called a “budget emergency.”

Thus, the union guards were replaced with non-union Wackenhut guards.

Arbitrator Amedeo Greco later ruled that Walker had misused his “budget emergency” authority. Greco said that the union guards had to be reinstated with back pay.

“Scott Walker’s last big cost-saving bust-the-union stunt could ultimately end up costing his former employer, Milwaukee County, close to a half million after all is said and done,” Maddow noted.

Not surprisingly, there were also problems with Wackenhut during their time with the county. It turned out that Wackenhut’s head of security had a criminal record, which included jail time.

“The playbook here is clear. The priority is to get rid of the unions, to break them up. The pretext to do that is financial, but it is clear that it is just a pretext,” Maddow observed. “Republicans understand that the business interests that support them have always wanted to get rid of unions, as it has always been and as it will always be.”

“The question is whether or not Democrats understand the sources of their political power well enough to defend those institutions against Republican attacks,” she concluded.

This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 21, 2011.

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David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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