Group issues endorsement of public sector workers

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has issued an endorsement of efforts of public sector union members in Wisconsin and Ohio to protect against threats to reduce their union benefits.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, which has generated five days of protests, would eliminate all collective bargaining rights except on wages and require employees to pay more for health and pension benefits.

AFTRA prexy Roberta Reardon issued a statement of support Sunday on behalf of the performers’ union.

“America’s public sector workers are the backbone our society,” she said. “Public sector union members educate our children; care for us when we are sick; enforce our laws; sustain our public works; protect our environment; keep our public transportation moving and risk their lives to provide us with relief services.”

Reardon said the efforts to reduce benefits represent “an attack on all union members and the rights of all Americans.”

“Just as AFTRA members have sacrificed at the bargaining table to provide our families with access to quality health care and economic security when we retire, so have union members in the public sector made sacrifices to do the same,” Reardon added. “Stripping Americans of our rights – such as the rights to collectively bargain and to freely join a union – is not the solution to the problems we face in a tough economy, nor is suppressing the voice of union members the way to fix a broken budget.”

AFTRA has more than 70,000 members.

The Screen Actors Guild issued a message Friday to its 120,000 members asking them to support the public-sector employees in Wisconsin.

“Instead of focusing on finding ways to create good jobs, blame for high unemployment and rising poverty levels is being shifted away from corporations and onto workers and our unions,” SAG said. “We can’t let that happen.”

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