Moments after national labor leaders announced they had sent a letter to Democratic lawmakers warning them to stand up for collective bargaining and reject efforts to legislate pension and health care benefits, Senate President Steve Sweeney defended his proposal.
Sweeney, a member of the ironworkers union, said in no way is he attacking organized labor, but instead he is protecting taxpayers .
“Listen, I respect and understand how they feel. I do this for a living,” he said. “I got union bugs on my business card. I got union bugs on my stationery. You won’t find another Senator that has – it may not be important to other people, but I’m a union guy. I’m not doing anything wrong to any employee here. I’m doing what they should have done years ago to protect their membership. And what I’m looking to do is protect the taxpayers here, so it’s a balancing act. I heard the comments that this is Wisconsin. That is so outrageous. This is not an attack on workers.”
Members of 10 national labor unions Thursday sent a letter to Trenton Democrats, telling lawmakers they will be watching.
“In this era of cynicism and declining trust across the board, working people are looking to stand with leaders who stand with them,” the letter from AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka and nine other leaders said. “We expect you, as a Democrat, to stand with working families and to defend collective bargaining rights. This is a vote we take very seriously.”