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Wisconsin anti-union bill is a shameful attack on workers’ basic rights

Let's be clear: Governor Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues aren't really trying to balance the budget. They're using budget shortfalls caused by their own reckless tax cuts as a pretext for attacking collective-bargaining rights and the union movement.

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The capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, is the scene of a standoff both deeply scary and profoundly inspiring. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans are trying take away the right of most government workers to collectively bargain. This basic right – to negotiate with your employer on an even footing – has nothing to do with Wisconsin’s budget crisis. The crisis is largely the result of Governor Walker’s massive tax giveaways, a huge cost that he’s now trying to cover by targeting state workers.

This is scary because if Walker and his colleagues succeed, it is likely to have a cascading effect on the dozen or so states where Republicans are also mounting similar campaigns against workers. And it is inspiring because tens of thousands of state residents – students, private-sector workers, government employees, and retirees – have begun to recognize these attacks as the political bullying they are and have peacefully gathered at the state capitol to say “No” to the scapegoating of teachers, nurses, and prison guards.

Bogus justification

These citizens understand that Republicans are using budget shortfalls as a pretext for attacking an already weakened union movement in hopes of crippling their political opponent. They know that these attacks won’t create jobs or help the state get out of its budget mess, but instead will leave their state in much worse shape, with worse schools and services, and no one left to fight for the middle class.

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