The polling also showed 60 percent of public sector employees favor returning to collective bargaining, compared with only 39 percent in the private sector. Nearly 70 percent of union members favor bargaining, while only 38 percent of non-union members support it. Those polled in the city of Milwaukee and Madison media markets favor collective bargaining while the rest of the state, to different degrees, do not, Franklin said.
Timing the message
“(Focusing on Act 10) would be a good primary tactic but for the general election, I don’t think so,” said Joe Heim, a longtime political science professor at UW-La Crosse. “By the general election, the union people and anybody who opposes Act 10 would know exactly where they are going. If you are trying to get some crossover supporters who generally think Act 10 was not a bad idea, but don’t necessarily like Walker, reminding them of that time is not a good idea.”
Republicans have touted how the law saved state and local governments billions of dollars, though that’s based mostly on provisions of the law separate from bargaining that required public employees to contribute to pension and health insurance premiums. Democrats say it has contributed to a statewide teacher shortage, though school districts are facing shortages across the country.
“You don’t need to remind anyone of it,” Heim said. “Time to move on and I would hope the Democrats are smart enough to look forward.”
A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin did not respond to a request for comment on whether the issue will be prominent in the 2018 campaign.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Walker’s campaign cited Act 10 as the catalyst for a “Wisconsin comeback” that resulted in $5 billion in savings to local governments.
“The extreme Democrat candidates running in the wide-open field for governor have a choice: raise taxes to pay for undoing the governor’s reforms, or accept that he fixed the financial crisis their party created,” spokesman Brian Reisinger said.
Much more on Act 10, here.