Guest editorial…The GOP’s attack on collective bargaining

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Expect other states to continue the attack on public employee unions now that Republicans in Wisconsin have succeeded in their effort to restrict collective bargaining.

After a bitter three-week battle that saw Senate Democrats flee the state to prevent a quorum and block a vote, Republicans sidestepped the boycott and rammed through a an anti-union bill restricting collective bargaining by state employees.

Republicans split off the legislation’s spending provisions and voted only on the union bargaining limits, proving the bill really wasn’t about the state’s current budget woes.

The new legislation increases health and pension costs for public employees as well as limits union bargaining to wages, and only up to the rate of inflation. The state would no longer collect union dues from paychecks, and members must vote each year to stay in the union. The new law would require public workers to pay more for health insurance and pensions plans.

The legislation exempts local police, fire and state patrol. Police and fire fighters unions supported Republican Governor Scott Walker in his election bid.

Walker’s effort to sharply restrict collective bargaining rights has placed him in the national spotlight and makes him a champion to other conservatives seeking to diminish or eliminate collective bargaining rights.

Several other states are actively considering legislation to limit collective bargaining rights: Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee. Several other states have introduced legislation in the last two weeks to limit collective bargaining.

The attack on collective bargaining is an effort to bust public sector unions, vilify workers and blame them for state budget deficit woes. Republican governors scapegoat state public employees who have conceded to wage and benefit cut. Meanwhile, generous tax breaks are being given to corporations while workers are being asked to sacrifice.

This assault will continue until rightwing anti-union politicians are voted out of office.

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