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Big labor reels after Scott Walker victory

Members of trade unions join Occupy Wall Street protesters as they rally in Foley Square on October 5, 2011 in New York.

Jeremy Hobson: Wisconsin's governor will keep his job. Republican Scott Walker won the recall election there yesterday. That win has political implications, but it also says a lot about organized labor. Unions led the push for the recall vote after Walker trimmed their power in the state.

Marketplace's David Gura reports on what the election result means for the labor movement.


David Gura: The recall vote attracted national attention because of its connection to labor issues and government spending. And all that attention led to big donations. Millions of dollars, and a lot of that came from outside the Badger State.

UC Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken specializes in labor issues.

Harley Shaiken: Unions poured considerable resources into this recall fight, but they were no match on the dollar front with the kind of money Governor Walker was able to tap into.

Groups supporting Walker outspent groups supporting his opponent three-to-one. Walker cut collective bargaining rights for public workers to try to shore up the state's deficit. That's something other politicians in other states have considered in these tough economic times. And last night's results may give them more confidence in their ability to enact tough reforms.

Harley Shaiken says last night was a big blow to labor, but they'll live to fight another day.

Shaiken: Scott Walker has retained his job, but he faces an energized labor movement two years down the road.

That's when the governor is up for reelection, and Shaiken says Walker's victory in Wisconsin may energize union voters nationwide.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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