Wisconsin's labor unions are far from forgetting the attacks they sustained from state Republicans during a weeks-long battle over legislation to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights. In a bold move, organizers of the Wausau Labor Day parade have refused to allow Republican lawmakers in the area to participate in the Sept. 5 event.
The Marathon County Central Labor Council, which sponsors the parade, has deemed that Republicans who do not believe in worker's rights have no place at a Labor Day event, according to a statement from the organization.
Usually they've been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don't really care, said Randy Radtke, president of the council.
Radtke added that he parade is meant to celebrate working men and women and the fruits of the labor movement: such as weekends, 40-hour work weeks and a safe working environment. Because state Republicans largely chose to side with Gov. Scott Walker anti-union budget repair bill - which hampers labor union's ability to negotiate between employers and their workers on issues such as wage scales, working hours and health benefits - Radtke said they did not belong at an event celebrating the workers they chose to denounce.
Some of the largest groups affected by the bill, which was signed into law on March 11, include teachers, auto workers and state and municipal government workers.
It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker's rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain, Radtke said.
Three elected officials who represent the Wausau area - including U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, state Rep. Jerry Petrowski and state Sen. Pam Galloway - have been barred from participating.
In a statement to Wausau's local station WAOW, Duffy, a Tea Party favorite, stated he was disappointed by the council's decision.
Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event, it stated.
However, the Marathon County Central Labor Council may face some roadblocks if they stand by their decision. According to a statement issued on Monday by Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple's office, the city will require the council to reimburse all expenses for the parade if it goes through with prohibiting GOP lawmakers from the event.