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Politics remains staunchly divided in Wisconsin and the local Labor Day parade is just another example of the divide. After the vote earlier in the year in Wisconsin led by Republicans to limit collective bargaining rights, a Wisconsin union has voted to ban Republican politicians from a local Labor Day parade. The Marathon County Central Labor Council, which sponsors the parade, includes some 30 local unions.
Council President Randy Radtke said in a statement on the group’s website that politicians are only welcome at the festivities if they have demonstrated support for workers’ rights.
“It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain,” Radtke said.
“It is a time for working families to come together to celebrate their hard work and a time where we recognize the labor movement for all they have given us — the weekend, the 40 hour work week, child labor protection, a safe work environment.”
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), a federal congressman representing Wausau released a statement decrying the vote. “Having walked in this parade in past years, Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event,” a Duffy spokesperson said.
“[The congressman] walks in a lot of parades, and staff called to register a spot last week and was informed in colorful language that no Republicans were being allowed to participate this year,” added Duffy Chief of Staff Brandon Moody in an email to The Huffington Post.
In February, 14 Democratic state senators fled the state in order to prevent a vote on the controversial collective bargaining bill. Thousands of protesters flocked to the state capital in Wisconsin to protest the legislation. Through a last-minute budgetary and possible illegal move, Republicans were able to pass the measure without any Democrats present. All but one GOP state senator voted for it.
Radtke said the reaction to his decision has been mixed, with “some negative comments but mostly it has been overwhelmingly positive.” Other politicians who won’t be welcome at the parade include state Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) and state Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).
Image Courtesy of Shaun Greiner