Two Democratic U.S. congressmen Friday told Fox News the budget-cutting bill in Wisconsin is not just an attempt to reduce the state’s $3.6 billion deficit, but a concerted effort to destroy its public-employee unions – and reflects a nationwide attack on organized labor.
“You know, if this is just a question of the budget and sharing the
sacrifice, I would not be as concerned about what is happening in Wisconsin as I am now,” New York Rep. Charles Rangel told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “I truly believe …that in Wisconsin there is a move to try to destroy the unions.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who represents neighboring Illinois, agreed the bill before the Wisconsin legislature – which would reduce benefits for public employees and limit their collective-bargaining rights – should represent a shared burden and not just focus on the state’s workers.
“I think that we all need to share in the restructuring of the budget. And that workers should not be called upon because, I think you would agree, Bill, that it is a tax on the workers when they have to give back healthcare benefits, when they have to give back wages,” he said. “Who else is sharing, right, this burden? The burden should belong to everyone, and we shouldn't just focus it on the workers.”
Gutierrez said the GOP attack on unions is not limited to Wisconsin.
“Look, the attempt in Wisconsin is to use the budget process in order to crush the union movement in Wisconsin and, therefore, across … the states of the United States of America,” he said.
Rangel also noted the way to cut budget deficits on both the federal and state levels is not by attacking the unions.
“If there's an over-reaching by unions – if there's an unfair disparity between the private and the public sector workers – this is not going to be [fixed] by legislation,” Rangel said. “What we have to do is come to the table, not as Republicans and Democrats, but as management, state, and labor to determine what can be negotiated.
“But to think that you're going to destroy the labor movement and use the budget deficit as an excuse is just not going to happen.”
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