WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Gov. Scott Walker's victory put labor unions on the losing end of the biggest showdown on workers' rights in recent U.S. history.

Instead of ousting the Republican who cut bargaining rights for public employees, the recall turned Walker into a hero for conservatives and an example of a politician who took on Big Labor and won.

The outcome could encourage GOP lawmakers in states like Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and New Hampshire to push harder to pass right-to-work legislation or other measures that restrict automatic union dues collection.

Still, labor leaders insist the fight was worth it. They said the massive protests against Walker and the polarization of voters in the state will make other governors and legislators think twice before going after unions.