Madison -- The same day Senate Democrats left the state to boycott a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill, a union official from Washington, D.C., provided the Democrats' leader with talking points.
Emails released by the office of Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) show how Democratic senators sought to explain their unusual action to drive to Illinois to block a vote on Walker’s measure, which would end most collective bargaining by public employee unions. The measure ultimately passed the Legislature but is now facing legal challenges.
One of the people offering suggestions to Senate Democrats was Blaine Rummel, a spokesperson from the national office of the public workers union AFSCME, also known as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Rummel sent an email marked “TPs,” for talking points, to Miller spokesman Mike Browne late on Feb. 17 after Senate Democrats had crossed the state line that morning.
Also that day, Rummel had helped coordinate AFSCME’s opposition to the bill in Wisconsin, speaking to media outlets like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Rummel sent the talking points to the personal email of Miller spokesman Mike Browne, but the email turned up in an open records request by the Journal Sentinel because it was forwarded on to Miller’s official email account.
“We’re on the job. The fact is, Wisconsin legislators are sworn to protect people’s rights, not take them away. And we are fulfilling our oath,” one of the talking points reads.