Obama: Wisconsin Reform Efforts ‘Assault on Unions’

by Katrina Trinko

Admitting that he hasn’t “followed exactly what’s happening with the Wisconsin budget,” Obama nonetheless slammed limiting collective bargaining during an interview with a Wisconsin radio station yesterday.

“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions,” said the president.

Arguing that “it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends,” Obama added that it was “important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.”

What Obama may not know: Gov. Scott Walker has no intention or desire to vilify state employees. In an interview I had with the governor, recounted in my piece today about Walker (and fellow union reformer Gov. John Kasich of Ohio), he said that “I’ve bent over backwards to make it clear that the proposed reforms in no way reflect on my opinion of our state employees, who I think overwhelmingly are good, hardworking, decent employees.”

The uproar in response to Walker’s plan to limit collective bargaining for state union employees continues today. Several state school districts have canceled classes, due to the number of teachers calling out sick in order to attend protests.  

For in-state coverage, check out the Wisconsin Reporter, which has stories about the thousands of protesters yesterday,  and Walker’s campaign rhetoric on unions.