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WV Workers Watch Wisconsin

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011   

CHARLESTON, W. VA. - Over the last week, nearly 100,000 people have jammed the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, to protest a plan by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights. It's an idea that other states also are considering – and labor unions, including those in West Virginia, are dead-set against it.

Wisconsin State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), believes Walker's action has implications for workers around the country.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted this kind of outrage from what he's doing but, you know, people have rights."

Another Wisconsin lawmaker, Rep. Joe Parisi (D-Madison), says lawmakers are well aware of the national implications of what is happening there.

"So, I think nothing could be more important that what's going on in Madison right now, and I'm glad the whole world is watching."

Workers from other states are showing up to lend their voices to the Wisconsin protests. Tracy Adman, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union in Chicago, is one of them.

"I believe that firefighters and teachers, and correctional officers and nurses, are entitled to have a good standard of living."

West Virginia public employees have fewer collective bargaining rights than those in the current Wisconsin law, but union members here say they support the Madison protests. Rallies have also spread to Ohio and Indiana, where lawmakers are considering plans to cut public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Gov. Walker says the changes are needed to give state government the power to control costs and deal with a budget deficit. But critics point out that Walker has also cut taxes, which adds to the deficit. They also note that taking away collective bargaining rights would have virtually no effect on this year's budget.



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