The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists
Sunday said it was in solidarity with state employees unions in Wisconsin, Ohio
and elsewhere "standing up for their right to organize."
Union workers are fighting budget-cutting efforts that
include reducing their collective bargaining power and benefits as a way to cut
huge budget deficits.
"The attack on public sector union members currently
underway in Wisconsin, Ohio and in other parts of our nation is an attack on
all union members and the rights of all Americans," said AFTRA National
President Robert Reardon in a statement Sunday. "Just as AFTRA members
have sacrificed at the bargaining table to provide our families with access to
quality health care and economic security when we retire, so have union members
in the public sector made sacrifices to do the same. Stripping Americans of our
rights - such as the rights to collectively bargain and to freely join a union
- is not the solution to the problems we face in a tough economy, nor is
suppressing the voice of union members the way to fix a broken budget,"
the union said, adding "Like all of us, our brothers and sisters in the
public sector have a fundamental right to collective bargaining, whether in
good economic times or bad."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Sunday on Fox News that
the state is broke (a $2.6 billion budget gap) and that it can't balance the
budget if unions retain their collective bargaining power. The union members,
and state Senate Democrats who had fled the state to avoid a vote that the
predominately Republican legislature has the votes to pass, had reportedly said
they would be willing to negotiate on the money and benefits issue so long as
they retained their power to bargain collectively, but Walker indicated that
was not sufficient. He called the collective bargaining argument a red herring.
AFTRA represents 70,000 performers including in cable,
broadcast and new media.