AFSCME Leader Wrong to Compare Union Recertification Elections to Communist China

December 4, 2013

by James Wigderson
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute

The protesters in Madison may be fewer since the attempted recall of Governor Scott Walker, but the rhetoric of some of the union leadership is as heated as ever. Even before the passage of Act 10 the passions aroused by Walker in the left inspired them to unmatched levels of vitriol. Even now it continues, and no name is off limits, no comparison is too vile.

Boyd McCamish, Executive Director of the AFSCME District Council 48, continued the attacks on Walker last week when news broke the public employee unions would have to have elections to be recertified. In a message that appeared on the local union’s Facebook page the day before Thanksgiving, McCamish lamented the announcement by comparing the Wisconsin governor and the Employment Relations Commission to the Communists in China.

“Gov. Walker and his Employment Relations Commission are taking a page right out of the playbook of communist China, making a complete mockery of the idea of fair elections,” McCamish said.

McCamish’s complaint is that the election process started the Friday after Thanksgiving, “when nobody is at work, essentially taking away the first five or six days in which we could possibly prepare for an election that will be over in a matter of days.” The union, which claims to represent approximately 600 employees in the Milwaukee Public School system, has until December 19th to get a majority of the membership to vote for certification.

Invoking the specter of Communism in China brings back memories of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the crushing of democracy in Tiananmen Square. It’s estimated that Communism killed 94 million people in China. By comparing Walker to that murderous regime because the recertification election starts on a holiday weekend, McCamish is belittling one of the worst ideological mass-murders of the 20th century.

Perhaps McCamish should save his vile smear for Judge Juan Colas, although I would strongly counsel McCamish to temper his remarks. Union attorney Lester Pines said criticism of Colas could be grounds for contempt of court. Talk about repressive regimes.

It was Colas that unnecessarily delayed the recertification process by attempting to assert his authority state-wide rather than restrict himself to the participants in the case before him challenging Act 10. As expected, the state Surpeme Court overruled Colas’ attempt to impose his will on the entire state, but the delay meant the election started Friday.

Or a better question would be why McCamish and his union didn’t use the delay to their advantage to prepare for the election? They had long before the Thanksgiving weekend to prepare.

Instead of using a horrible analogy comparing the government of Wisconsin to one of the worst mass-murdering regimes in history, McCamish and his fellow union officials should have come into work on Friday, along with millions of other Americans who work in the private sector. He could have used the time to positively promote what he perceives to be the benefits of membership in AFSCME District Council 48.

Somebody should remind McCamish that the person pictured standing in front of a tank advancing on Tiananmen Square would gladly have changed places with any of McCamish’s union members. Thanks to Act 10, he would have been free to decide whether he wanted the union to represent him, and free to vote his conscience. That’s what democracy looks like.

At the end of his tantrum, McCamish announced his union would not bother to seek re-certification. “Every union is going to have to decide on its own how to deal with the unreasonable requirements and moving-target timelines imposed by this administration. But our union is not going to waste our members’ resources participating in this mockery of democracy.”

But the “moving target” was the result of the unions’ own folly by bringing a lawsuit to challenge Act 10. And as for mocking democracy, it’s clear McCamish already has spent union resources doing that.

While the unions continue to rage on, Act 10 continues to work for Wisconsin. McCamish and his fellow union leaders may have a hard time accepting it, but their members are rejecting them, and that’s probably the real cause of McCamish’s anger.