Walker Seeks to Revive Campaign With Anti-Union Pitch

3 minute read

Seeking to revive a flagging campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is returning to the ideas that first catapulted him onto the national stage: reducing the power of unions.

In a speech in Las Vegas, Walker will propose a combination of executive orders and legislation that would effectively neuter labor unions in the United States.

In addition to abolishing unions for federal government workers and ending mandatory union membership, he will also propose eliminating the National Labor Relations Board, which adjudicates private-sector labor disputes and oversees union elections, and blocking union dues from being spent on political activity.

“Our plan will eliminate the big government unions entirely and put the American people back in charge of their government. Federal employees should work for the taxpayers, not the other way around,” Walker will say, according to his prepared remarks.

Walker has long been a foe of unions. As Governor, he rolled back bargaining rights of some Wisconsin state employees—notably, teachers but not police officers. Unions mobilized and tried to boot him from office in 2012, halfway through his first term. He survived the recall effort, won a second term and then signed legislation banning mandatory union memberships, a move often referred to as Right to Work.

MORE: Read Full Text of Gov. Scott Walker’s Campaign Launch

The fight against Wisconsin unions thrust Walker into the national spotlight and helped him build a national network of donors that was helpful when he decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination. He delivered an impressive performance to Iowa caucus goers in early 2015 and instantly rose in the polls.

But after a dramatic slide in polls in recent weeks, he’s aimed to reboot his campaign, promising to “wreak havoc on Washington” and telling worried donors he’ll show more energy on the stump.

The plan outlined Monday would be one of the most aggressive and politically challenging attacks on organized labor in the United States in decades. Democrats were quick to attack, and union leaders were equally as fiercely opposed to Walker’s moves that would undercut their influence in the workplace.

“Scott Walker can now add one-trick pony to his resume right underneath national disgrace,” said Eric Hauser, a spokesman for the nation’s largest union, the AFL-CIO. “His campaign is floundering and so he does what he always does when he can’t think of real solutions: he attacks workers.”

Walker’s team, meantime, has bet that Democratic opposition will only boost his standing in the GOP primary.

Read Next: Walker Promises to ‘Wreak Havoc on Washington’ in Campaign Reboot


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Write to Philip Elliott at philip.elliott@time.com