Candidates in gubernatorial recall discuss collective bargaining

MADISON -- Democrats seeking the office of governor in the upcoming recall election have different positions on collective bargaining rights for state employees.

During a press conference Thursday, April 19th, candidate and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett discussed how he would take on the issue of collective bargaining.

"The first vehicle that is available to us is to call a special session," Barrett said. Barrett said if he can get a bill driving the restoration of collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin's state employees through the Senate, it would be incumbent upon Assembly Republicans to support the restoration as well.

Kathleen Falk, also seeking the Democratic nomination in the recall race, has characterized Governor Scott Walker as trampling on worker's rights. Falk's campaign told FOX6 News Falk: "Will put the restoration of collective bargaining rights back into the budget, and if it comes back to her without the rights restored, she'll veto it."

Candidate Kathleen Vinehout issued a statement Thursday, saying attaching a collective bargaining bill to the budget would make the bill more difficult to pass. Vinehout said: "Collective bargaining is much more likely to pass as a 'stand alone' bill than combined with anything else," adding that she will work to get this done very early in the next Legislative session.

Doug LaFollette said his strategy would be developing a coalition of Republicans and Democrats as soon as he would become governor. "As governor, I would sit down and talk to state employees. They don't have to be organized to legally discuss the issues that are important to them," LaFollette said.

Barrett said his approach is "multi-faceted," indicating he would be willing to try different avenues to restore the collective bargaining rights.

Meanwhile, Walker defended his budget reforms Thursday. Walker criticized the Democratic candidates for governor who are calling for the restoration of bargaining power for state workers.

Walker says repealing the collective bargaining law would be a mistake for two reasons. First, he says it would rip open a wound that has healed, and secondly, he says it would lead to increased taxes.

"Politically, I think it's a mistake because (Barrett), like Kathleen Falk is pandering to the big government private union bosses. He wants the support of the unions. He wants their money and their backing, so it's a total disregard for the taxpayers of the state.  The long-term mistake is we saw property taxes go down. Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk have said they want to repeal those limits and put in place the things that drove property taxes up in the past," Walker said.

Walker said the Democratic candidates in the recall election are simply trying to appease national labor unions.