Entries in Union Workers (5)


Obama Courts Union Workers

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama rallied union workers Monday, admitting in a campaign-style speech that he hasn’t always been a “perfect president” but saying he has always kept his promise to work on their behalf.

In fiery remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department the president said he has been pushing for new infrastructure projects but that Republicans in Congress keep rejecting them.

“Over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills to put people to work, to put your members back to work....And time after time the Republicans have gotten together, and they’ve said no,” the president said to boos from the rowdy crowd.

Obama went on to accuse Republicans in Congress of playing politics with funding for infrastructure projects. “Congress needs to do the right thing....It shouldn’t be that hard.  Not everything should be subject to thinking about the next election instead of thinking about the next generation,” he said.

The president himself, however, touched on several of his campaign themes during the speech, including ending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Instead of investing in infrastructure, the president said Republicans prefer to give tax cuts to the rich. “Now, what do you think will make the economy stronger?  Giving another tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country?” Obama asked. “No!” the energetic crowd cheered in response. “Or rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our broadband networks that will help our businesses sell goods all around the world?  It’s pretty clear.  This choice is not a hard one,” the president said.

While Obama’s relationship with the unions has been rocky at times over the last three years, he has been courting the key constituency heading into the election.

“I made a promise I’d always tell you where I stood; I’d always tell you what I thought, what I believed in; and most importantly, I would wake up every single day working as hard as I know how to make your lives a little bit better.  And for all that we’ve gone through over the last three and a half, four years, I have kept that promise,” he said.

“I’m still thinking about you, and I still believe in you.  And if you join me, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on earth,” the president said as he concluded his speech to a standing ovation and chants of “four more years.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Court Upholds Law to Gut Collective Bargaining Rights

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Chalk up a big win for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans who championed a controversial law that virtually kills the collective bargaining rights of state workers.

The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a committee of lawmakers did not violate Wisconsin's open meetings law when it hurriedly pushed through the statute earlier this year.  The decision overturns a ruling by a Dane County judge who the court said exceeded her jurisdiction by stopping the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.

Walker said the law was necessary to balance the state budget while its opponents maintained it was simply a union-busting measure intended to weaken a constituency that supports Democrats in general elections.

The law spurred massive protests in Madison last February as Senate Democrats fled the state for three weeks to prevent a vote from occurring.  However, Republicans removed fiscal parts of the law, enabling the Legislature to pass it without the Senate Democrats present.

Since then, supporters and opponents of the law have scheduled recall elections for this summer that could affect the balance of power in the Legislature that might allow Democrats to repeal the law.  Meanwhile, there are a number of lawsuits pending to stop the law's implementation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin in Wisconsin: Walker 'Trying to Save Jobs, Pensions'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images (file)(MADISON, Wis.) -- Hundreds of Tea Party supporters gathered at the Wisconsin state capitol Saturday to hear from former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“Hello Madison” Palin said, as she greeted the crowd. “You look good.”

A riled up Palin told the crowd that they are standing on the front lines in the battle for the country’s future. Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Scott Walker sparked a political uproar in Wisconsin when he enacted legislation with steep budget cuts and took away collective bargaining rights of public workers.

“This is where the line has been drawn in the sand and I am proud to stand with you today in solidarity,” Palin said.

Many Wisconsin workers and Democrats felt the legislation unfairly stripped union workers of their rights. Palin said that Walker is “not trying to hurt union members,” but “trying to save your jobs and your pensions.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisc. Standoff Intensifies: Walker Won't Relent, Dems Won't Return

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a news conference on Monday ratcheted up pressure on the 14 absent Senate Democrats to return to Madison. Walker singled out Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller as the “barrier” to their return, noting “a handful” of the other Democrats have signaled that they wish to return soon.

Walker did not offer any indication that he would relent on his proposal to end most collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters “we are not flexible on this piece.”

Senate Democrats, who fled the state more than two weeks ago, have given conflicting signals on their willingness to return.  Earlier Monday, Miller asked Walker and Fitzgerald for a new meeting “near the Illinois border.”  Walker dismissed the invitation as “ridiculous,” noting that his representatives have held numerous conversations with the missing Democrats. 

The governor is clearly attempting to discredit Miller, suggesting the Democratic leader is beholden “to union bosses in Washington.”  Since the Democrats left on Feb. 17, the Wisconsin standoff has set off a raging national debate on the role of public employee unions.  But most recent polls suggest Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican governor is losing political support, particularly among independent voters, for his proposal to dismantle union rights for state employees.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Budget Plan: Political Payback?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As governors convened at a conference in the nation's capital this weekend, one was noticeably missing -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose state is embroiled in a political war over a budget proposal that threatens collective bargaining.

The political turmoil in Wisconsin and sweeping budget cuts across the country were a hot topic among the governors attending the National Governors Association's Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.

For some of the governors, what Walker is doing with his budget proposal is putting political payback ahead of what is really good for the state economy, but others say he should be praised for taking serious steps to slash spending.

"What's going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states is an ideological detour that does nothing to help us create jobs and move our economy forward," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, told ABC News. "I think it's a shame when some governors decide to sharpen their ideological acts in order to go after unions just because they didn't endorse them in the last election."

But several Republican governors, including Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Jan Brewer of Arizona, praised Walker's governing style in Wisconsin, saying he should be commended for his actions.

"Governor Walker, after all, is only doing something he promised to do and he ought to be commended, I think, for trying to keep his commitments," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told ABC News.

Barbour, who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, echoed the Indiana Republican's support of Walker and added that collective bargaining is not a right. Barbour also criticized Wisconsin Democrats for leaving the state in the middle of a vote on the budget and warned they will face retaliation in the next election. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio