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Wisconsin May Be Just the Beginning
posted by: Alix | February 22, 2011, 03:24 AM   

Governors who swept into power in state houses this year with promises to cut spending and bring business to depressed states are now beginning to usher in a new era of labor relations that could result in the largest reduction of power to public sector unions in generations.

But as the massive protests, strikes, and legislative boycotts in Wisconsin have shown, the call to derail compulsory unionism can be fraught with risk and unpredictable turns as newly elected legislators try to transform campaign promises into action.

As everyone knows, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is going for it all — the elimination of compulsory unionism for public employees and increases in their health care and pension payments. His plan has advanced quickly to the Republican-led Senate, despite several days of protests that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators to the Capitol. Then Senate Democrats then fled the state bringing the legislative process to a total standstill. Wisconsin is the first battleground, but it will surely not be the last.

A similar proposal to restrict public employees collective bargaining was just proposed in Ohio over the past week, with protestors expected to begin demonstrations on Tuesday. Hundreds more have demonstrated in Tennessee and Indiana, where newly elected Republican-led committees have advanced bills to restrict bargaining rights for states teachers' unions. Governors from Nevada to Florida to New Jersey have been advocating for weakened union powers and larger financial contributions to healthcare and pensions from government employees to help balance budgets.

As these other plans unfold in states across the country only time will tell if they will experience the same chaos as Wisconsin. Despite the controversy and the mayhem in Wisconsin, Governor Walker has refused to back down. The Governor's spokesman said that instead of stimulating the Illinois economy, Democrats should come back to Madison and vote on the bill. Democrats maintain they won't return to Wisconsin unless Walker is willing to make concessions to the bill, something he has maintained he won't do.

AAE will monitor the situation in the states as they unfold. The road to choice may be difficult, but teachers need to know they do have options. Let your colleagues know the truth about what this legislation will mean to them.

For resources about forced unionism and your rights click here.

Will Wisconsin serve as a model for states all over the country?
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