Revealed: Walker promised billionaire he would ‘divide and conquer’ unions

By David Edwards
Friday, May 11, 2012 9:32 EDT
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to billionaire Diane Hendricks
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Before Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), who is facing a recall election, introduced legislation to strip some public employees of collective bargaining rights, he promised a billionaire donor that he would use a “divide and conquer” strategy to bust unions, a newly released video reveals.

In the video shot by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein on Jan. 18, 2011, billionaire Diane Hendricks asks Walker if he would make Wisconsin a “completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work?”

“Oh, yeah,” Walker replies. “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employees, use divide and conquer.”

Hendricks went on to give the governor’s campaign $510,000. That makes makes her not only Walker’s biggest donor, but the biggest donor to any candidate in Wisconsin’s history, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Only a month later, Walker introduced the legislation that cut collective bargaining for most public workers, triggering months of protests and a wave of recall elections.

The video seems to contradict the governor’s claim that he had no intention of making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, which would cripple unions by prohibiting that they require that employees join or pay dues.

“Scott Walker told me directly that he believed in prevailing wage,” Operating Engineers Local 139 business manager Terrance E. McGowan recalled to the Journal Sentinel. “I tried to hold some dialogue with him when the collective-bargaining issue went down. I am a union man. I believe in collective bargaining. The one thing he assured me, time and again, is that he believes in private sector unions. I don’t know whatever beef he had with public sector unions. But he said he believed in private sector unions, and that’s why I believe I have no reason to believe that right to work would be a threat from his office.”

After seeing the newly released video clip, McGowan said he found the “divide and conquer” strategy troubling.

“It means turning worker against worker,” he explained.

Lichtenstein, who filmed the video, donated $100 to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2010. Earlier this week, Barrett won the Democratic primary and will face Walker in the June 5 recall election. His campaign has already used the video to created an online ad.

Watch this video from Barrett for Wisconsin, uploaded May 11, 2012.

(h/t: Talking Points Memo)

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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