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What Wisconsin says about labor unions' clout in America

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Rich Clabaugh/Staff
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3. Do public-sector employees have the same union rights as workers in the private sector?

No. While federal labor laws govern private-sector unions, no national law applies to public-sector workers other than federal employees.

Wisconsin was the first state to grant government employees the right to collective bargaining in 1959. Many states followed suit in the 1960s and '70s, and today, only 10 states, including Wisconsin, curtail or disallow public-sector collective bargaining.

The laws vary significantly, and unions wield more power in some states than in others, but in most states, including Wisconsin, public employees are not allowed to strike.

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