US trade unions have reacted angrily to Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker comparing trade union workers to IS terrorists.
The likely Republican presidential contender sparked pointed criticism from union leaders across the country after remarks delivered on the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington.
The annual conference features more than a dozen potential Republican presidential contenders over three days hoping to win over conservative activists.
Asked how he would handle the Islamic State group if elected president, Walker said: ‘For years I’ve been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on American soil.
‘If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.’
Walker is gearing up for a 2016 presidential contest in which foreign policy is expected to play prominently. Walker dedicated much of his remarks to the threat of radical Islam.
He said he receives regular threat assessments from the FBI and the leader of Wisconsin’s National Guard. He said: ‘We need a president, a leader, who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait ’til they bring the fight to American soil.
‘We need to show the world that in America you have no better ally and no greater enemy.’
Yeah, you read that right, said an AFL-CIO comment.
The governor of Wisconsin just compared working families standing up and speaking for their rights to violent terrorists who behead their innocent victims.`
The CPAC crowd didn’t boo him off the stage like a crowd of actually patriotic Americans would have, they responded to his speech with chants of ‘Run, Scott Run.’
The AFL-CIO union federation noted: ‘Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), one of the nation’s largest gatherings of extremists, Walker chose to wax eloquently on the topic of terrorism and violent groups like ISIS.
‘Walker said on Thursday that his experience taking on thousands of protesters in his state helped prepare him to take on terrorists across the world.’
We Have a Winner! Scott Walker Is the Worst Governor in America, said a statement by the AFL-CIO.
With a list of horrible governors across the country, including Sam Brownback (Kan.), Chris Christie (N.J.), Nikki Haley (S.C.), Bobby Jindal (La.), John Kasich (Ohio), Paul LePage (Maine), Rick Snyder (Mich.) and Rick Scott (Fla.), and up-and-comers like Asa Hutchinson (Ark.) and Bruce Rauner (Ill.), it’s hard to imagine how Scott Walker (Wis.) could rise to the top of the heap, says the US union federation.
And it is a pretty big heap. But that’s just what he’s done with his latest comments, comparing working families to terrorists in the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
And knowing how Republican primary voters think, Walker probably just shot to the top of the party’s presidential contender list, too. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, appaled at the comparison, said: ‘Governor Walker’s statement comparing workers and terrorists is revolting.
‘It is clear that Governor Walker’s judgment is impaired, and that he is not qualified for the Presidency. I call on Governor Walker to personally and immediately retract his statement and apologise sincerely to the millions of workers in Wisconsin and throughout America he has so appallingly insulted.’
Walker’s comments drew sharp reaction from other union leaders.
Betsy Kippers, a teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council said: ‘It’s disgusting that Governor Walker would compare everyday heroes – educators – to international terrorists.’
Jim Tucciarelli, a union representative in New York City whose office was one block away from the 9/11 attacks, added: ‘Governor Walker, I know terrorism. I know that your own state’s citizens speaking up for what’s right isn’t terrorism.
‘Today, after hearing your words, I also know the sound of cowardice.’
Walker spokesman Kirsten Kukowski sought to clarify his remarks after the speech. She said: ‘Gov. Walker believes our fight against ISIS is one of the most important issues our country faces. He was in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS.’
The spokesperson said something about leadership and then blamed Obama. She added: ‘What the governor was saying was when faced with adversity he chooses strength and leadership.’
On their Facebook page, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) shared a Walker Instagram, showing the depth of his ‘strength and leadership’:
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO has launched a petition telling Walker that ‘We are not ISIS,’ please sign it and share it with your friends.
Legislation is still being pushed that would make the lives of working families worse, warned the AFL-CIO union federation on Sunday.
Whether it is the ‘right to work’ policies pushed by the allies of Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin), who likes to compare workers to terrorists, and in other states like New Mexico and West Virginia, or the ongoing negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) using the Fast Track process, we need to stay alert.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is holding meetings across the country to try to convince members of Congress that Fast Track is wrong for the country.
And the more we look at what TPP might turn out to be, we find out that it has elements like Investor-State Dispute Settlement or that it won’t require potential members to comply with international labour rights.
Meanwhile, Canadian trade unionists have sent a message of support to Wisconsin workers. A statement from Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan on the State Legislature of Wisconsin fast-tracking right-to-work legislation said:
‘The Alberta Federation of Labour stands proudly with workers in Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker’s attack on working families. This week the labour movement in Wisconsin is making every effort to stop the Governor’s mean-spirited and unnecessary labour law, which is being fast tracked through their state legislature right now.
‘Right-to-work legislation is an effort to lower wages, undercut the rights of workers, and further fracture the power of the labour movement in the state.
‘We know that the fight in Wisconsin today may be a fight coming to workers across North America tomorrow.
‘Workers and the labour movement are showing us how important it is to come together to fight a great threat that will fundamentally hurt working people.
‘Now more than ever we need to find our collective voice – in Wisconsin, across America, and right here in Alberta. Without ongoing solidarity and mobilisation of our collective power, workers will pay the price.
‘Today, Wisconsin is a wake-up call, and we at the Alberta Federation of Labour are ready to meet the challenge whenever it may come.’
• If anyone needs more evidence why the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement shouldn’t be rushed through Congress on the ‘Fast Track,’ which does not allow any amendments or improvements in the deal – just a take-it-or-leave-it, yes-or-no vote – read what Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) has written about it.
While it’s pretty much a given that big corporations – not working people – have been the winners in free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and Central America Free Trade Agreement over the years, Warren exposes a frightening tool in the TPP that gives corporations unimaginable power over the United States’ legal system.
Here’s how she describes the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement,’ or ISDS, provision. ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge US laws – and to potentially pick up huge payouts from taxpayers – without ever stepping foot in a US court.
‘Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences.
‘If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a US court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the US courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in US courts, and the arbitration panel could require America’s taxpayers to cough up millions – and even billions – of dollars in damages.’
But that’s not the worst of it, she writes. The panel of arbitrators wouldn’t employ independent judges. Nope. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next.
‘Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?
‘We know how that would turn out. Here’s an example of how ISDS works, but keep in mind only international investors – by and large big corporations – get to use the special tribunals:
‘So if a Vietnamese company with US operations wanted to challenge an increase in the US minimum wage, it could use ISDS. But if an American labour union believed Vietnam was allowing Vietnamese companies to pay slave wages in violation of trade commitments, the union would have to make its case in the Vietnamese courts.
‘Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal.’