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CSEA offers support of Wisconsin public employee unions

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Representatives of public employee unions in New York are supporting their fellow union members in Wisconsin.

Republican elected leaders in Wisconsin are pushing a bill that would end collective bargaining rights for government employees. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker defends his proposal, saying it's needed to bring down the high cost of government.

The Civil Services Employees Association represents thousands of government workers in New York. CSEA spokesman Steve Madarasz says what's happening in Wisconsin is an assault on American values.

"CSEA actually has a contingent in Wisconsin to express solidarity with the folks there," Madarasz said. "This is really a serious situation that does not bode well for our democracy."

A Pew Research Center Poll released last week found the public sympathetic to public employee unions -- 44 percent said their initial instinct is to side with workers in a disagreement versus 38 percent who would side with state and local governments. Madarasz says he's not surprised by that finding.

"We find the public becomes much more sympathetic to our point of view once they have the facts," Madarasz said. "There has been all kinds of mythology out there about what public sector workers earn."

Here in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing thousands of layoffs of state workers. But union leaders here say they don't see any evidence that Cuomo is engaging in the union-busting activities they're seeing in Wisconsin.