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A gubernatorial recall election will take place on Tuesday (June 5) in Wisconsin, with Republican Scott Walker excepted to survive a challenge from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barnett. According to the latest polls, Walker leads Barnett by seven points – a lead we hope will hold.

Walker lives in a state where fighting unions is serious business (as opposed to just a rhetorical exercise).

The 44-year-old former Milwaukee public official came into office last year with his state facing a $3.6 billion budget shortfall. He sought to address that deficit by cutting public sector salaries and requiring government employees to contribute more to their health care coverage and pension fund. He also sought to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees while making future pay raises contingent on voter approval.

In other words, he did exactly what we need to be doing in government at all levels right now …

Wisconsin’s bureaucratic establishment utterly flipped out in response … with thousands of public employees walking off of the job in protest (including teachers). Meanwhile Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature fled to neighboring Illinois so they wouldn’t have to vote on Walker’s proposals.

We enthusiastically embraced Walker’s efforts …

“Labor unions are a cancer on this country – and especially on government,” we wrote last February in addressing the situation in Wisconsin. “They need to be eradicated, not appeased.”

Fortunately this cancer is in remission at the national level.

After shedding more than 1.4 million workers between 2008 and 2010, union membership held steady in 2011 – although the percentage of the American workforce that’s unionized edged down again. A total of 14.7 million workers – or 11.8 percent of the nation’s workforce – were unionized last year, according to statistics released in February by the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s roughly the same number as 2010 – when unionized workers represented 11.9 percent of the workforce.

Of course government continues to do everything it can to keep unions in business – with 37 percent of the taxpayer-funded workforce currently represented by a union compared to just 6.9 percent of the private sector. Back in the 1940s, 33.9 percent of the private sector workforce was unionized compared to just 9.8 percent of the public sector.

Kudos to Scott Walker for his willingness to wage this battle … and best of luck to him in his recall election on Tuesday.