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WI Gov Walker's Opponent Promises to Repeal Parts of His Signature Anti-Union Legislation

via Mary Burke's Facebook With the Wisconsin gubernatorial race inching ever closer, Democratic challenger Mary Burke ramped up her rhetoric regarding Act 10 last weekend, incumbent Governor Walker’s signature legislation which stripped collective bargaining rights from a majority of the state’s public sector union workforce. With the issue still very much a part of Wisconsin’s political conversation, Burke has revealed what she would change — and what she would keep — about Act 10. The main takeaway? “Ensuring that workers feel respected and have a voice in the process is a big part of attracting and retaining a qualified work force,” Burke said.

In her interview with the Wisconsin State Journal Burke says she agrees that some of the changes were necessary to help streamline a broken process. But she understands that much of the law was an attempt to destabilize and disempower unions, full stop:

Burke, who has already been endorsed by more than a dozen of the state’s largest private- and public-sector unions, said she supports making wages, hours, benefits and working conditions mandatory subjects of bargaining for public employees.

She called the annual elections, the prohibition on requiring union dues of all employees, and a ban on automatic dues collections “nothing more than heavy-handed attempts to punish labor unions” and said she would work to repeal those provisions.

She said she would have used the collective bargaining process to achieve the pension and health insurance contributions that helped balance the state budget. But she does not want to reset the law to before Act 10, when state employees could pay no more than 20 percent of health insurance premiums and could bargain with employers to cover their full pension contribution.

Burke also agreed the way contract disputes were settled for decades needed to change, but disagreed with eliminating interest arbitration. She said the factors used in the process should allow for “effective, efficient and accountable government workforce and institutions,” though she didn’t offer a specific plan for reinstating it.

With the state Supreme Court preparing to rule on the latest legal challenge to Act 10 — this one from Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) — the evening news will keep the issue at the forefront of voters’ minds. This could play in Burke’s favor considering her stance against the legislation is much tougher than Walker’s 2010 and 2012 opponent, Tom Barrett. He was criticized for downplaying the law during his second attempt to unseat the governor. Recent polling shows that Burke and Walker in a dead heat, a large gain for Burke who trailed 48-41 in March. Also helping the progressive cause is Wisconsin’s consistenly poor rankings for business friendliness and job growth, two of the backbones of Walker’s big campaign talk.

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