Kurt Wright Brings Wisconsin Governor’s Attack on Labor to the Green Mountain State
Burlington, VT—Burlington Progressive Party Chair Abby Russell today denounced a bill that would severely hurt workers’ rights in Vermont. WCAX reported state representative and city councilor Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) introduced a bill that would take away teachers’ right to strike in the event that contract negotiations fail. The once—and potentially future—mayoral candidate’s bill comes during a time when far-right Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey are fighting to strip collective bargaining rights for state employees.
“Unions are the foundation of our middle class. Union struggles for decent wages, benefits, and working conditions have improved the lives of all working Americans. From fighting for a livable wage for para-educators to negotiating fair and reasonable contracts with city workers, Burlington Progressives have a strong record of standing up for public workers’ rights,” said Burlington Progressive Party Chair Abby Russell. “Burlington residents should be appalled by Kurt Wright’s impersonation of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Burlington needs representatives who work for them, not ones who push far-right anti-worker legislation.”
- Wright Introduces Bill to Strip Teachers’ Right to Strike. State Representative Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) introduced a bill that would take away teachers’ right to strike and replace it with a binding arbitration system. [WCAX.com, 2/21/11]
- Wright Compares Right to Strike to a Weapon. Wright said that teachers threatening to strike was like them threatening to use a weapon. He told WCAX, “[E]ven when there’s not a strike, the threat of a strike is used as a billy club. It’s a bad system.” [WCAX.com, 2/21/11]
- Headline: Workers’ Rights Battle Goes National at Pivotal Time for Labor. Bloomberg News reported that there are currently efforts in 17 states to restrict union rights and curb earnings. The most notable example is in Wisconsin where Republican Governor Scott Walker wants to restrict collective bargaining and require government workers to pay more of their health-care and pension costs. In response, unions have organized demonstrations in solidarity with Wisconsin workers in at least 27 states. [Bloomberg News, 2/22/11]
- Vermonters Rally in Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers. On Tuesday, nearly 250 people from labor braved the cold and rallied on the steps of the state capitol in support of union workers in Wisconsin. [Seven Days, 2/22/11]
- Progressives Standing with Labor. Traven Leyshon posted on the Vermont Progressive Party blog a post in which he not only explained the stakes of the labor battles in Wisconsin, but also drew a clear difference between Progressives and Democrats. Leyshon noted that if Governor Walker defeats the unions in Wisconsin it will “make it easier for Democratic governors, like Peter Shumlin and Andrew Cuomo of New York, to appear more reasonable as they press their demands that public sector workers suffer cuts in wages, pensions and jobs.” [Vermont Progressive Party, Leyshon blog, 2/20/11]