Union Members To Wear Red In Support Of Wisconsin Workers

Posted: 11:49 AM EDT Aug 18, 2011   Updated: 5:25 AM EST Feb 21, 2011

Union members across the country are expected to wear red Tuesday in support of Wisconsin's public workers.

The governor's efforts to cut collective bargaining rights and benefits has galvanized those workers, who gathered at the state capitol to protest Monday.

Gov. Scott Walker made the move in light of a $3.6 billion deficit.

It's a controversy that's spreading to other states like Ohio and Tennessee. Pennsylvania is also watching closely.

"This is not about having them participate more in their pension costs or health care costs," said Lehigh Valley Labor Council president Gregg Potter. "This is totally about Scott Walker breaking the unions."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has showed no sign of wanting to cut collective bargaining.

A Corbett spokesmen was quoted in the New York Times on Sunday, saying upcoming negotiations with public-sector unions will be conducted in good faith.

But lawmakers said with a $4 billion deficit looming, something has to give.

"We are asking our state employees, those who benefit off of state government, to realize our financial challenges and work a long with us," said Pa. Sen. Majority Whip Pat Browne, (R) Lehigh Valley. "Do not expect higher salaries."

Pa. Rep. Doug Reichley, (R) Berks/Lehigh counties, said upcoming negotiations with the state's three unions will be an exercise in give and take.

"There have to be some give backs at the bargaining table because people just can't afford to see their taxes going up," said Reichley.

Local union leaders said concessions are a part of any negotiation process, but the state will get the kind of employees it pays for.

"By eliminating the rights for teachers and public officials public service employees to unionize it downgrades the level of service that is provided to the community," said Easton Area Education Assn. president Kevin Deely.

Browne said he doesn't think Pennsylvania will follow Wisconsin's lead, but union leaders said if need be, their members will fight like Wisconsin's to keep collective bargaining in Pennsylvania.