AFSCME: Video attacking Tom Barrett was ‘over the top’

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Tom Barrett

MADISON (AP) –Wisconsin’s largest public employees union said it used poor judgment when it directed members to an Internet video attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, and acknowledged the video was “over the top.”

Yet, in a statement on its website, the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) stood by its criticism of Barrett, claiming that he demanded too many concessions from workers as Milwaukee’s mayor.

“While we used poor judgment in directing our members’ attention to an Internet video that went over the top to make its point, we believe it is essential to bring attention to Barrett’s record on collective bargaining,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately, it is not a good record.” The video that AFSCME sent to its members last week incorrectly implies that Barrett supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan effectively ending collective bargaining rights for public workers.

The change spurred a recall drive against Walker, and Barrett is one of four Democrats vying to unseat him. The union did not produce the video, but last week AFSCME Council 24 executive director Marty Beil said it fit with the union’s criticism of Barrett. Beil did not return phone or email messages seeking comment Sunday.

The statement, posted on the union’s website Saturday, implies that union members had voiced concerns about AFSCME’s criticism of Barrett. The statement thanks members for sharing their concerns, saying: “We understand you feel we should speak no ill of any Democratic contender.” However, it goes on to say campaigns are about drawing distinctions between candidates, even those in the same party.