Labor Flexing Its Muscle in States


State jobs have been a common target for governors and lawmakers looking for ways to cut budgets, as the recession has led to furloughs and layoffs in about half the states. But labor unions in many states are fighting back, sometimes winning court decisions and political concessions to stave off those cuts.

The Seattle Times reports that Democrats - who dominate the legislature and hold the governor's mansion in Washington - face a revolt from labor unions who want the state to raise taxes rather than make deeper cuts that could result in worker furloughs and layoffs. Several major unions that have traditionally supported Democratic candidates have stopped or sharply reduced campaign donations as a way of dialing up the pressure and getting lawmakers to support the unions' agenda.

This puts Democrats in a particularly tricky spot heading into next year's elections, The Times notes. Raising taxes during an election year is never popular, but neither is "alienating the party's base," as the paper puts it.

The Wall Street Journal , meanwhile, reports that organized labor increasingly is turning its attention to the states while a key part of its agenda - the so-called "card check" bill - remains stalled in Congress. Unions already have scored a key victory on a similar measure in Oregon, and the lobbying efforts in the states "are viewed as a plan B for organized labor frustrated by its inability to get the (card check bill) passed," the paper writes.


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