March 4, 2011- It's no surprise that Wisconsin's new Republican Governor, Scott Walker regularly compares himself to one of the deities of his political party, America's 40th President, Ronald Reagan. But, Walker obviously doesn't know Reagan that well, because his plans to end collective bargaining for most of Wisconsin's public employees, including teachers, is in direct opposition to what Reagan believed.
Walker believes that his efforts to end public employee's right to collective bargaining are akin to Reagan's August 1981 firing of thousands of air traffic controllers who illegally decided to strike. And while it's true that Reagan came down hard on the air traffic controllers, that doesn't mean he believed in completely stripping away worker's rights.
In a campaign speech he gave in Liberty State Park in Liberty, New Jersey on Labor Day 1980, Reagan, who, as an actor was president of his union, the Screen Actors Guild, unequivocally stated his support for unions, and promised that if elected, "that the voice of the American worker will once again be heeded in Washington."
In the same speech, Reagan expressed his support of Polish workers who were, under eventual Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa's leadership, rising up against the Communist regime's domination and demanding the right to form unions, organize and bargain.
"They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children and it would disappear everywhere in the world. Today the workers in Poland are showing a new generation how high is the price of freedom but also how much it is worth that price."