Inside union headquarters, organizers in full combat mode - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Labor organizers in full combat mode ahead of Tuesday's massive rally


By Derek Staahl - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- After three days of marches and protests around the state, union groups are preparing for the biggest counter-attack yet against Governor Walker's budget repair bill: a massive rally outside the capitol.

At the Teaching Assistants' Association headquarters on State Street, dozens of volunteers packed two small second-floor rooms.

"I think it's going to be a pretty big rally at the capitol, and we're going to make sure that the politicians there are going to do the right thing for working families," said TAA organizer Peter Rickman.

With a long checklist of names and phone numbers, volunteers place hundreds of calls, imploring voters to call their representatives.

Walker's bill would require state workers to pay more into their retirement accounts and more for health insurance, but labor leaders are most upset about a provision that would strip them of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.

"We will no longer have any say in the workplace," said AFT-Wisconsin president Bryan Kennedy, who added that Walker's bill is the first step to dissolving unions altogether.

State workers would retain the ability to negotiate pay under Walker's proposal, but not benefits, vacation, leave, and procedures for workplace grievances, among others.

Police, fire fighters, and state troopers are exempt, and would still be allowed to bargain collectively.

Governor Walker has said the bill is necessary to avoid thousands of layoffs, and overcome the $137 million hole in the current budget.

Walker announced Friday that workers' contracts will be terminated in 30 days, meaning the majority of state employees will have no contract starting March 13th.


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