As reported yesterday, while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has refused to talk to Democratic State Senators or union representatives, he took a call from a man he believed to be David Koch, the billionaire who was his second largest campaign contributor, and has contributed millions to the right-wing astroturf organization Americans for Prosperity, which organized the counter-demonstrations against the unions in Madison last weekend and is paying for anti-union ads. The caller was actually Ian Murphy, editor for the online newspaper the Buffalo Beast. But honestly believing the caller was Koch, Gov. Walker divulged much of his secret strategy for breaking the unions.
Here's a verbatim transcript of part of the conversation between Walker and Koch/Murphy in which he threatens the jobs of state workers if they won't give up their collective bargaining rights:
Walker: "So we're trying about four or five different angles so each thing we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I've got layoff notices ready. We put out the layoff notices. We announce Thursday. They go out next week. Probably about 5-6,000 state workers will get their layoff notices. We might ratchet that up a little bit, too."
Koch/Murphy: "Beautiful, beautiful. Gotta crush that union."
Walker: "... I've had three or four of my other business-leader friends -- you've known them over the years -- and I just sort of passed the message along. If they think I'm going to cave, they've been asleep over the years, because I've taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won even in a county where I'm overwhelmed, overpowered, politically, because we don't budge."
Koch/Murphy: "Goddamn right!"
Walker: "If you're doing the right thing, you stay firm, and in this case, we'll wait it out. If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers that get laid off, sooner or later there'll be pressure on these senators to come back."
Walker: " Because we're not going to compromise."
Walker is in effect threatening a "hostage crisis" in which state workers and the citizens they serve are the hostages, by sending out notices threatening to fire thousands, and if they don't agree to give up their collective bargaining rights, metaphorically shooting them by depriving them of their livelihood.
Not mentioned in the call is an attempt by Gov. Walker to take Wisconsin's state finances as a hostage to break the unions. Walker has created a Friday deadline for the legislature to authorize a refinancing of state bonds that would save Wisconsin taxpayers $165 million in interest. If the Democratic state senators who have left the state don't return by then -- which would allow the state senate to pass the bill taking away collective bargaining rights -- Gov. Walker has said he's willing for the state to lose this $165 million, which is more than the amount of the givebacks the unions have already said they would agree to. He seems literally willing to "kill" hostages -- the state budget and the jobs of state workers -- to win his fight to take away collective bargaining rights.
Further demonstrating the extreme measures Republican politicians are willing to go take to break unions, a Deputy Attorney General in neighboring Indiana used his Twitter account to threaten to "use live ammunition" to clear out pro-union demonstrators. He admitted making the threat in an email to Mother Jones.
Extremist Republican politicians are willing to take and "kill" hostages, metaphorically, and if you take the Indiana Deputy Attorney General seriously, perhaps even literally, to win their fight to bust unions.
UPDATE: Apparently, after his threat was outed in the press, the Indiana Deputy Attorney General was relieved of this position. But the fact that such an individual could serve in the Indiana Attorney General's office for over 10 years remains shocking.
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