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Walker Drops Presidential Bid, Nevada Unions Breathe Easy ... For Now

2008_union_rally.jpg

A union rally in Las Vegas in 2008.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unveiled his plans to change union rules when he attempted a campaign comeback a week ago in Las Vegas.

Just two days ago, however, Walker dropped out of the presidential race.

Though Walker hinted that he was called by a higher power to bow out of the race, fewer than one percent of Republican voters polled said they wanted him as president.

Is that a sign of the times? Now that the recession has lifted, can unions live peacefully among Republicans and Democrats? 

Yvanna Cancela, political director for the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 told KNPR's State of Nevada that a large percentage of people support unions.

“Recent polling has shown that unions are polling at about 60 percent popularity which is about where it was at in 2008,” she said.

She said people support unions in Las Vegas because they understand what the organizations have done for the whole economy.

“People are generally supportive of raising the standard of living in this town, and they know that the union is largely responsible for where we are at in terms of our wages,” Cancela said.

However, Victor Joecks, the executive vice president of Nevada Policy Research Institute disagrees with that and says their polling showed 27 percent of people in unions would leave, if they didn't face any penalties. 

Support comes from

He believes the political power of unions is inflated.

“Most people are just not that interested in union politics,” Joecks said. 

He also believes that public sector unions, like the Clark County Education Association, which the group has been at odds with for several years, inflate wages beyond the market rate.

“If you go to transparentnevada.com and you start looking at what firefighters are making, what police are making, you look at some of the high-end teachers making over a $100,000 a year, yeah, they absolutely have inflated wages," Joecks said.

He said in the private sector if unions push to hard the company will go under, but in the public sector, they'll just go back to public funds for more money.

Joecks also believes that despite Gov. Scott Walker's decision to suspend his presidential campaign his message about unions is still resonating.

“I think what you’re going to see is that his plan, his specific recommendations, are going to be part of any future Republican presidential labor platform," he said.

While Cancela thinks taking up that cause will hurt a candidate's chances.

"If that’s the kind of platform that the Republican Party is going to adopt in this election cycle then I think they’re going to feel a burn in the ballot box," she said.

Guests

Victor Joecks, executive vice president, Nevada Policy Research Institute; Yvanna Cancela, political director, Culinary Workers Union Local 226

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KNPR's State of Nevada
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KNPR's State of Nevada