There is no need and no excuse for unions opposing Tom Barrett's run for Governor in the recall election to manipulate his words and positions to make their case in an anti-Barrett video emailed to members, but that is exactly what has happened.
It was reprehensible when State Supreme Court candidate Mike Gableman pulled a similar stunt in an unfair TV ad against incumbent Justice Louis Butler, and it's reprehensible now.
Words were edited out and context was dropped to make it appear that Barrett was in league with Walker to break unions.
The video makes news in The Washington Post, where it is noted that AP rates the video "misleading."
Great. As if Wisconsin and progressives need that.
And PolitiFact gives the union video a "false" ruling:
Was Barrett really in cahoots with Walker in supporting the collective bargaining changes of Act 10?Now here is the heart of the PolitiFact finding:
Let’s rewind the tape. The whole tape.
And let’s add the context.
On Feb. 11, 2011 Walker introduced his budget repair bill. In addition to calling for public employees to pay more for their pensions and health care, the bill contained the provision to end most collective bargaining provisions. That aspect surprised even top Republicans and left Democrats and unions howling in protest. (We rated as False a claim from Walker that he campaigned on the changes.)...
And labor leaders soon stated they could agree to the higher payments for pensions and health care -- so long as the other collective bargaining changes were not part of it.
Barrett took a similar view at the time. Indeed, we previously rated his position as a No Flip, since from the start he advocated workers paying more for pensions and health care.
In fact, Barrett -- a former state legislator -- had suggested a way to end the stalemate even before appearing on the Sykes show: Break the bill in two.
That is, separate the collective bargaining changes from the changes to pension and health insurance, and vote on the second piece -- the part the unions said they would support.
The collective bargaining piece, he said, should be set aside for future debate.
In the same Feb. 24, 2011 news conference Barrett said Walker was focused on busting unions.
"It's now clear to us that this is an ideological war, and it's a national ideological war, and the purpose of it is to take away the rights of people who work for the government" to bargain collectively, Barrett said.
"It is time we return to our Wisconsin, the Wisconsin where we can sit down at the table and work out our differences," he said. "Let's end the circus. Let's solve the problem."
Barrett made the same point on the Sykes show.
Only the video creatively edits out a critical part of the statement.The unions have a response, but it is spin and rationalization:
On the radio, Barrett went on to say: "I would vote for the changes in the health care and the pension. I would vote no on the changes in collective bargaining."
So his position against the collective bargaining changes was clear.
Also on the radio show, it was clear that when Barrett said "this bill should pass" he had switched the topic to voting on a bill that would include the pension and health insurance givebacks, not the limits on collective bargaining.
Here it is in context.
"Again, I think the vast majority of people in the state agree that public employees should pay more towards their health care and their pensions. The bill will do that, and the bill will pass. And the bill should pass."
AFSCME spokesman Allen said he did not know why the video did not include the full quote from Barrett. But he also said it does not matter in relation to the union’s position and statement.The conclusion is strong, and this tactic has no place in a campaign where Walker's credibility is on the line,
Allen said the union felt Barrett undercut its leverage at a key moment. It was still trying to get Walker to sit down and negotiate a bill that would have locked in the employee health and pension contributions without limiting bargaining rights.
Allen added: "And Barrett offered that non-existent hypothetical on voting against half the bill only after he said ‘the bill should pass.’ "
But that misstates Barrett’s position and what was said.
Our conclusionAs I have been arguing, Democrats get nothing by imitating the behavior of GOP presidential primary candidates.
The largest state employee union says Barrett supported Walker’s bill to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees. The group cites a video that includes a snippet of a radio interview in which Barrett suggests a way to break the stalemate.
Barrett did say it was important to separate the higher pension and health care payments from the collective bargaining changes. But he made it clear this was so the piece with broad support -- even from the unions -- could move forward.
In the part cut from the video, Barrett clearly states: "I would vote no on the changes in collective bargaining."
We rate the union’s claim False.