Protesters angry with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's effort to break Big Labor’s financial hold on the state in 2011 at one point blocked his exit from a manufacturing plant, then surrounded his police cruiser while “beating on the windows and rocking the vehicle.”
The episode is one of several violent threats that the Republican governor and his family have faced, and which are detailed in his upcoming book “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge." The book, excerpts of which were obtained Tuesday by FoxNews.com, describes what was going on behind the scenes during his campaign to end costly collective bargaining agreements for most of Wisconsin’s unionized public employees.
The 2011 episode at the manufacturing plant happened about one month into his first term, after his government required unionized workers to contribute more toward their health-care and retirement benefits.
The bold mandate was part of his larger Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill that passed later that year to help reduce a projected $3.6 billion budget deficit.
“As we prepared to leave, the state troopers saw that the protesters had physically blocked the entrance we had used to come onto the property. So they turned the squad car around and headed toward the other exit. We watched in disbelief as the throng of people rushed toward the second exit to block our path,” writes Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
“As we tried to pull out, they surrounded the car and began beating on the windows and rocking the vehicle. Just as we extricated ourselves from their grip, a truck pulled up and blocked our path, playing a game of chicken with the troopers. They turned the lights and sirens on warning them to get out of the way. Eventually he backed up, and we sped off,” he continued.
Walker reflects on the incident by writing: “It was a lesson in how much our circumstance had changed in a matter of a few days. We were dealing with people who were so blinded by their anger that they were not in the least bit afraid to storm and shake a police car.”
However, the most unnerving incidents for Walker appeared to be the death threats -- specifically one in which the sender wrote about following his children to school, the street on which the Walkers lived and family members being potential targets.
“According to my staff, the only time they ever saw me angry during the entire fight … was after I read that letter. They were right. I didn’t mind threats against me, but I was infuriated that these thugs would try to draw my family into it,” Walker writes, according to Wisconsin Interest Magazine, which first published excerpts -- provided by publisher Sentinel, a division of Penguin books.
At least one menacing letter was directed at Walker’s wife, Tonette, and threatened to “gut her like a deer,” which combined with the others resulted in heavy police security.
Beyond the inside look at the governor's successful effort to pass Act 10 and survive a 2012 recall attempt, Walker, who is also seeking re-election as governor next year, tries to explain his brand of fiscal conservatism.
He suggests that other lawmakers too often get trapped in the “false choice” between spending cuts and tax increases and that fiscal conservatives too frequently “present themselves as the bearers of sour medicine, when we should be offering a positive, optimistic agenda instead.”
Walkers argues he was able to cut government spending without mass layoffs and cutting Medicaid while still improving education and public services, through a plan he calls a “hopeful, optimistic alternative to austerity.”
The state's Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday on Act 10, after a lower court last year ruled parts of the law that apply to school and municipal employees are unconstitutional.