Wisconsin Republicans Trying To Squash Workers’ Rights
Workers in Wisconsin are sending a signal to the Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Governor Scott Walker that they will not stand for efforts to take away their right to collective bargaining.
Thousands of students, teachers and other workers clogged a hearing for hours and camped out at the Capitol overnight, and so many teachers called in sick that the Madison public school district had to cancel classes Wednesday.
While other states have proposed bills curtailing labor rights, Wisconsin’s measure is the boldest step by a new Republican governor and Legislature to solve budget problems by confronting organized labor. It would end collective bargaining for all state, county and local workers except for police, firefighters and the state patrol.
The Legislature’s finance committee was set to vote on the measure later in the afternoon, and legislative leaders believe they have enough votes to pass it later this week.
Thirty states have collective bargaining laws that protect workers. Democrats believe the governor’s motivation is to strike back at political opponents.
Walker’s plan would make workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums. State employees’ costs would go up by an average of 8 percent. The changes would save the state $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years.
Unions could still represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized. Local police, firefighters and state troopers would retain their collective bargaining rights.Click here for reuse options!
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