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Unions on the Defense as Labor Debate Rages On
posted by: Alix | February 28, 2011, 04:56 PM   

This weekend in Wisconsin and state capitals all over the country, union leaders and members gathered together to protest the various bills aimed at ending forced unionism and closing budget gaps. Despite the weeks of protests, news polls are shedding light on who the American people really support in this debate.

According to a new Pew Research survey, only 41 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of unions, compared to 58 percent in 2007. A separate Pew survey last year found a noticeable decline in respondents who said labor unions "are necessary to protect the working person.''

The fact is private sector labor unions have been on the decline for decades as federal legislation and OSHA requirements have left many irrelevant. No longer fighting for safe workplaces in the private sector, public sector unions have remained the last stronghold. Now, their power too is waning as states face major budget shortfalls. The criticism has moved from the Right to average outraged taxpayers and parents.

As the debates rage on in Wisconsin, school officials are now threatening consequences for the days teachers were absent from school. Teachers in the Madison school district are required to have a doctor's note and some are simply not being paid for the days they missed. Many speculate the consequences are the result of media outlets posting videos of union teachers seeking fake doctor's notes.

Governor Walker warned that if the bill is not passed by Tuesday, public workers would see lay-offs. He urged Democratic lawmakers to "come back and do their job," warning, "if we fail to pass this bill by Tuesday, we lose $165 million worth of savings. If we continue down that path we start seeing layoffs."

Governor Walker spent the weekend traveling to cities in Wisconsin, hoping to persuade the AWOL lawmakers to come back to Madison. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Walker reiterated, "If we do not get these changes, and the (state) Senate Democrats don't come back, we're going to be forced to make up the savings in layoffs, and that to me is just unacceptable."

Similar legislation and protests are raging in Ohio and Indiana as protestors converge at state houses and Democratic lawmakers have fled their posts. No word has come yet whether they will face a similar situation with lay-offs if progress is not made in the coming weeks.

Make sure to stay informed this week. Click here to access the AAE schedule of media interviews.

What do you think of the union-organized protests and waning support from the public?
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