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In Wisconsin standoff, a test: Has governor gone overboard to trim deficit?

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If that takes place, Wisconsin will become the first state to significantly legislate against collective bargaining, says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. That "will create major changes in union representation and bargaining rights” throughout the country, he adds.

The proposal to erode state worker benefits to such an extent is setting tensions high in Madison, the state capital. Several thousand people camped out on the lawn of the Capitol Tuesday for a public hearing that lasted 17 hours – running into early Wednesday morning. Forty percent of Madison’s schoolteachers called in sick Wednesday to help lobby the legislature, a move that shut down the city’s school system for a day.

Wisconsin not alone

The scene may become a familiar one to other states that are considering similar measures.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is supporting a bill that will potentially eliminate collective bargaining for all state workers. Governor Kasich has said he may propose additional measures such as eliminating automatic pay increases and banning public-employee strikes, both to help cut down the state’s $8 billion budget gap. On Tuesday, hundreds of people jammed into the state capitol to protest the measures.

• A bill moving through the Tennessee state legislature will, if passed, eliminate collective bargaining rights for unionized state teachers and make achieving tenure more difficult.

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