King County Exec Condemns Wisconsin's Union Move

Jobs and WorkplaceUnionsPoliticsPublic EmployeesRepublican PartyScott Walker

Negotiation -- not confrontation.

That's the message from King County Executive Dow Constantine today, who sharply criticized the style and substance of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's assault on public employee unions.

Constantine condemned a vote by Wisconsin Republicans to remove collective bargaining rights for workers as an attack on their fundamental rights.

And he pointed to the give-and-take of working with public employees' unions -- and rolling back some scheduled pay increases -- as an example of collaboration, not confrontation.

"We insist on doing reform the right way here in King County," said Constantine in a release sent to news organizations.  "The vote by Wisconsin Republicans is an attack not only on the fundamental rights of public workers, but an attack on the beleaguered American middle class as a whole."

This morning, Wisconsin's Assembly passed an amended version of a controversial bill to curb the collective bargaining rights that most state workers have.

The measure was approved 53-to-42.

Today, Constantine praised King County employees for their "innovation and collaboration" which helped the county avoid the kind of mess Wisconsin finds itself in.

The county executive says it's dishonest to suggest public workers are somehow to blame for our current budget deficits.

"Voiding the right to fairly bargain, independent of any action to cut their budget, only proves that these actions are strictly political, deeply partisan, and rooted in the lie that teachers, nurses, police officers and other working people are somehow to blame for the excesses of mortgage bankers and Wall Street.
Protesters in Wisconsin have been protesting the bill in and around the state capitol in Madison over the past few weeks.

Some Democrats even fled the state as a way to stall a vote.

Wednesday night, Wisconsin Republicans made adjustments to the bill, which allowed the Senate to approve it without having a quorum.

The bill now goes to Governor Scott Walker, who is expected to sign it into law.

King County's Constantine says the bill's passage undercuts the confidence in government needed by its public employees.
"Actions like those taken by the Wisconsin legislature fundamentally undermine the trust that is necessary for people to work together and provide the efficient and quality public services our communities need and expect."

"In King County we have proudly taken a different, smarter, honest approach -- making our employees full partners in addressing the underlying fiscal realities, with an emphasis on increasing efficiency, preserving service to the public, saving money, and respecting the rights and dignity of workers."

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