Wisconsin labor unrest spills across Lake Michigan
The AFL-CIO is planning a protest Tuesday in Lansing, Michigan. This follows ongoing labor unrest in Wisconsin and Ohio over plans to reform public sector collective bargaining rules.
Michigan union leaders and social justice activists will join with colleagues in Wisconsin and Ohio on Tuesday as the AFL-CIO plans street protests in Lansing against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's attempt to balance the state budget on the backs of public employees.Skip to next paragraph
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In scenes that US Rep. Paul Ryan (R) has likened to the massive recent protests and clashes in Cairo, Wisconsin public sector employees and union activists staged a seventh day of protests in Madison Monday as Gov. Scott Walker (R) refused to budge on his plan to gut collective bargaining, the behind-closed-doors process by which civil service workers, including teachers, secure pay, health, and pension benefits.
Fighting similar proposals, Ohio union activists protested in Columbus last week, as well, and now Michigan union protesters are planning a morning protest in Lansing. In Tennessee, a Republican-backed plan to end collective bargaining for the state's 52,000 teachers has drawn sharp rebukes from the education establishment. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has also proposed curbing collective bargaining rules in the Hoosier State.
The protests have highlighted a sharp ideological battleground between the progressive, union-backed ideals of President Obama and small-government conservatives who rejiggered the balance of power in an arc of upper Midwestern states in the 2010 mid-term elections.
These protests "probably have to roll out [through the region]," says labor expert Robert Bruno at the University of Illinois, in Champaign. "If you're engaged in progressive politics, you're part of the labor movement, and you're looking at a real threat to your ability to function and to your very existence, it does call out strong resistance."