Published Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 | 5:10 p.m.
Updated Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 | 7 p.m.
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker vowed to “take on big government union bosses in Washington,” in a speech today in Las Vegas, continuing to position himself as one of the harshest critics of organized labor running in the primary.
Standing in front of an American flag and two large forklifts at the Xtreme Manufacturing plant, the Wisconsin governor unveiled what he called the Workers’ Rights Act, a set of policy proposals that would eliminate federal employee unions and the National Labor Relations Board.
“Collective bargaining is not a right,” he said. “It is an expensive entitlement.”
Walker also called for a nationwide expansion of right-to-work laws that prohibit union membership as conditions of employment.
“To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader that has real solutions,” he said. “Political rhetoric doesn’t get you anywhere.”
The Wisconsin governor’s visit comes as he tries to keep his presidential bid alive in a Republican primary race that’s been overshadowed by Donald Trump. He was once a top contender in the race but has sunk in the polls.
Walker’s anti-union efforts are the hallmark of his political career. In 2011, he began successful efforts to eliminate collective bargaining and weaken the power of unions in Wisconsin. He survived a union-backed recall election in 2011 and won re-election three years later.
Walker — on his second Las Vegas trip since July — is hoping to light a spark with the conservative base. Although Nevada has one of the highest rates of unionization of any state in the nation, it is also a right-to-work state in which legislators recently passed reforms that limit how local government unions can bargain.
While Walker casts himself as an opponent of powerful groups that influence politics, he's recently come under fire for his own associations. Walker has been cast as a beneficiary of the billionaire oil moguls David and Charles Koch. Businesses linked to the Koch brothers have written big checks to PACs supporting Walker this cycle, according to Politico.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently said to a crowd in Wisconsin that Walker is beholden to their money.
“It looks like he just gets his marching orders from the Koch brothers and just goes down the list,” Clinton said.