Union-busting. We're supposed to act surprised. That's what Democrats tell us. How could the governor so callously overreach? And yet, many Dems fully expected Walker to target unions. Many were convinced the GOP would go further and make Wisconsin a right-to-work state. They just never said it in public.
Democrats never made workers' rights an issue in the last election because they didn't think it was an issue that voters would care about. Despite the backing Democrats get from organized labor, their candidates hardly mention unions unless they're releasing an endorsement from one. Even those endorsement announcements hardly ever touch upon the fundamental issue of the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain. Usually the backing of a union is just an opportunity for a candidate to boast that he has support from "working people."
To pollsters, as well as the politicians who listen to them, labor rights is likely an issue that serves little use because it only appeals to the small minority of union members in the state. Most people can't relate to it. In contrast, polls will show almost everybody knows how they feel about sex change operations for prisoners. Hence, Tom Barrett's pathetic campaign pledge to end "Cadillac health care for prisoners."
The result is that at no point last fall did Scott Walker ever have to take a position on collective bargaining rights. He was able to speak in euphemisms about making local governments more "flexible," without ever drawing the ire of the state's hundreds of thousands of union members.
Democrats now point out that Walker never talked about union-busting on the campaign trail. Duh. That was the point! And it's their fault.