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GOP lawmakers skip Labor Day events

Gov. Scott Walker and many of the state’s other Republican lawmakers, including state Sen. Alberta Darling, sat out Labor Day events this year.

Walker issued a Labor Day proclamation praising the state’s workers. But the governor said he would spend time with his family rather than attend any events honoring labor.

Organized labor and its supporters are angry with Walker, Darling and their colleagues for stripping public unions of nearly all their collective bargaining rights shortly after taking control of state government at the beginning of the year. In February, anti-Walker protesters mounted the largest demonstrations seen in Madison since the Vietnam War days.

Anger over the GOP’s antipathy toward worker’s rights still burns strong. Over the summer, voters recalled two Republican state senators and came within 2,000 votes of recalling a third, which would have allowed them to regain control of the state Senate.

The Marathon County Labor Council vowed to ban Republican lawmakers from marching in a Labor Day parade in Wausau. But the council backed down after the mayor said his town would not pay for the event unless the GOP was allowed to participate.

Sheila Cochran, who heads the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, said her group would be happy to see GOP officials at Milwaukee’s annual Labor Day celebration. But she didn’t expect to see many there, Cochran added.

“I’m sure there’s some point, way back in time, we’ve had some Republicans but I don’t know any recent time any Republican lawmaker either forced themselves on us or wanted to come,” Cochran told ABC-12 news.

The chairman of Wisconsin’s Democratic Party said Republicans had put a cloud over Labor Day this year.

“With Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson working to destroy our middle class, Labor Day 2011 is not a happy one in Wisconsin,” Mike Tate said in a statement. “When workers return to their jobs – if they even have one – they will face Republican pressures driving down their wages, slashing their benefits and eliminating their protections.”

Tate described the state’s GOP as the enemy of workers, serving “a narrow band of corporate interests who would see wages and benefits slashed, schools shut down, jobs shipped overseas, all for the profit of a greedy few.”

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