AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday that unions are winning the debate on collective bargaining rights.

Speaking at Wayne State University in Detroit, the labor leader said he sees a bright future for unions. He said collective bargaining rights are more prized now that public sector unions have come under fire from Republican governors.

“Honestly, for years — for years — we’ve been trying to hold a national debate on collective bargaining, and thanks to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and a few of his friends — we’re having one. And guess what? We’re winning,” Trumka said, according to prepared remarks.

The standoff between public sector unions and Walker (R) garnered national attention as the first-term governor succeeded in passing legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights for most public workers in Wisconsin. Walker has suffered a decline in the polls after coming under heavy criticism for the move.  

Trumka said Americans are not willing to give up labor rights, and that’s why the labor movement “has a rich and vibrant future.” 

“Unions have a strong future in America — because we need them to improve our lives,” he said.

Trumka said the actions of Walker and other governors to limit union rights is an overreach that is stirring a backlash from voters.

“The overreaching of anti-worker politicians today may have given us the game changer we need. It may have provided the sparks for the next surge of labor,” Trumka said. “And it has certainly reminded America of its most basic dream, the dream that if we work hard, if we do our part, we can have a decent standard of living, healthcare, an education for our children and a measure of security in our old age.”