Local Union Activists To Fight For Bargaining Rights In Wisconsin

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Roughly 160 union activists are traveling to Wisconsin Wednesday to support government employees who are fighting to keep their collective bargaining rights.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor delegation is expected to arrive in Madison at 1 p.m.

“I’m going to Wisconsin because it’s about preserving America’s freedoms and the middle class,” said Tom DeMoore, an electrician from Boyle Heights.

Thousands of union activists have gathered outside the capitol building to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to reduce union health and pension benefits, as well as limit collective bargaining powers.

Those in support of the governor include Tea Party members, who also have gathered on the square.

Labor leaders have already agreed to the cuts, but they are fighting to retain the right to negotiate employment terms as a bloc.

Democratic state senators are staying away from the capital, making a vote on the measure impossible.

Ken White, a member of the group headed for Wisconsin, said he felt it was important to make the trip.

“As a city bus driver, I understand we have a fiscal crisis, and public employees all over this country are making sacrifices, but the Governor of Wisconsin is using the fiscal crisis to destroy the right of public employees to collectively bargain. That’s wrong.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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