Two public safety unions from the state’s largest city have again endorsed Scott Walker’s bid for governor.
On Monday, Walker’s campaign announced the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association had endorsed him in the June 5 recall election.
Both unions supported Walker, a former Milwaukee County executive, in his bid against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the 2010 election. The endorsements come three days after Barrett announced he plans to run in the May 8 Democratic primary for governor.
“Gov. Walker has a strong record of supporting public safety with an unwavering commitment to first responders,” said Michael Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, in a prepared statement.
Dave Seager, president of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association, issued a similar statement.
The unions’ support for Walker during his 2010 run for governor prompted many to speculate it influenced Walker’s decision to exempt public safety unions from the controversial legislation he signed last year that stripped collective bargaining rights from all other public unions.
However, two statewide unions, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, backed Barrett in 2010.
The collective bargaining issue is a driving force behind the Walker recall effort.
Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, called the endorsements “an embarrassment.”
Although public safety unions were exempted from most provisions of the collective bargaining bill, they were not exempted, for example, on their ability to bargain over health insurance. Now, they can only negotiate on insurance premiums.
“There are major changes that occurred since the last election,” Palmer says. “I don’t know how these two groups can look at their members with a straight face.”
Palmer says his members have not yet decided if and when they will make an endorsement.
“But I can almost give a guarantee we are not going to be endorsing Scott Walker,” Palmer says.
The endorsements also are the first union endorsements not to go to former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
Of the four announced Democratic candidates, Falk has backing from two of the state’s largest public unions, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, and AFSCME.
“These are organizations that have supported Gov. Walker in the past, so this isn’t surprising,” said Falk’s spokesman, Scot Ross, of the Milwaukee unions.