Guild supports workers fighting collective bargaining bill

The Writers Guild of America East has issued an endorsement of efforts by public-sector union members in Wisconsin to battle 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. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild issued statements over the weekend opposing the legislation.

WGA East president Michael Winship issued a statement Wedneday that said Walker’s efforts are part of a national campaign to destroy unions as “the most effective and powerful progressive force” in the country.

“Public employees — in fact, all Americans — have a fundamental right to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining over the full range of issues they face on the job,” Winship said. “That right has not only created and upheld the American middle class, but also offered hope and possibility to anyone anywhere who seeks fairness and equality.”

WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson and Winship also urged the 4,000 WGA East members and all concerned Americans to join solidarity rallies, including Thursday’s noon event in front of City Hall in New York.

“Just as the labor movement speaks truth to power, we think it is important for people in power to speak the truth,” Peterson said. “Governor Walker proclaims that all he wants is to slash costs and save money for Wisconsin taxpayers, but the inconvenient truth is that the public employee unions he seeks to destroy have already agreed to the givebacks he has proposed. His bluff has been called — what he really wants is to wipe out the voice of the hundreds of thousands of hard-working Wisconsin public employees who have exercised their right to form unions.”

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