State labor fights: Middle-class 'assault'

March 8, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Labor battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states are part of a growing attack on workers' rights and the middle class, two U.S. lawmakers say.

The battles -- epitomized by the 22-day standoff in the Wisconsin Legislature over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to strip most public employees of their collective bargaining rights, ostensibly to ease the state's budget woes -- represent "state-by-state and congressional assaults" on the American backbone, said Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

The lawmakers were scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon with public employees and private-sector union workers from Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana to talk about how proposals in their respective states will affect them.

Ohio parole officer Tom Guyer; Dodge County, Wis., Deputy Sheriff Janice Bobholz; Indianapolis electrician Ryan Fagg; Columbus, Ohio, schoolteacher Courtney Johnson; and Euclid, Ohio, school staffer Lynn Radcliffe are scheduled to testify.

Others scheduled witnesses include senior economist Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress public policy research organization; workers' rights policy specialist Tim Judson of the Progressive States Network grassroots political organization; and University of California, Berkeley, social and cultural studies Professor Harley Shaiken, the lawmakers said Monday.

On the Republican side, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other GOP leaders have expressed support for Walker, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"Republicans in Congress -- and reform-minded GOP governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Chris Christie -- are daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face at all levels of government, and daring to commit themselves to solutions that will liberate our economy and help put our citizens on a path to prosperity," Boehner said in a statement Feb. 17.

"I'm disappointed that instead of providing similar leadership from the White House, the president has chosen to attack leaders such as Gov. Walker, who are listening to the people and confronting problems that have been neglected for years at the expense of jobs and economic growth," Boehner's statement said.

Obama told a Milwaukee TV station Walker's so-called budget-repair bill was an "assault on unions."

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