National Democrats weren't that concerned about unions before Wisconsin
Josh Barro points out that there's some hypocrisy in Barack Obama's support for the workers in Wisconsin:
The scope of collective bargaining for federal employees is sharply limited. They are forbidden to collectively bargain for wages or benefits; instead, raises are determined annually through legislation. Wisconsin unions would actually have slightly more scope for bargaining than this: they could bargain for cost of living adjustments up to CPI, or more if approved in a referendum. So, if the Wisconsin law is an assault, federal employee unions have already been pummeled.
But instead of trying to strengthen the hand of federal workers' unions, Obama supports aggressive use of the direct wage-setting power, urging Congress to freeze federal workers' pay for two years. He's made no suggestion that such a wage freeze should occur only through a bargaining process, which would be required in states where wages are a matter for collective bargaining.
It's worth noting that neither Obama officials nor their predecessors in the Clinton administration concerned themselves much with strengthening organized labor. Neither the Employee Free Choice Act nor any other serious reforms of the labor laws received serious attention from either White House. Meanwhile, the intervening Bush administration was quite concerned with undermining organized labor (you might remember that the final fight over the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security had to do with some unionbusting provisions Republicans inserted to make the law difficult for Democrats to support).
I think it's possible that the events in Wisconsin are reminding Democrats of the role organized labor plays in both the political system and leading to a renewed interest in the health of the union movement, but it's really too early to tell.
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