AUSTIN — Several hundred Texas union members staged a vigil Monday night at the Capitol to show solidarity for state workers in Wisconsin who are embroiled in a collective bargaining dispute with the state's Republican governor.
"We are here today to honor a basic principle of the labor movement," Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller said. "An attack on one is an attack on all."
The protesters gathered in the parking lot of the AFL-CIO state headquarters and marched across the street to the south gate of the Capitol, clutching light sticks and flashlights. "Don't Oppress the Workers of Wisconsin," one banner proclaimed.
Gov. Scott Walker has ignited angry protests among public employees in Wisconsin by trying to curtail collective bargaining rights that have been in place since the 1950s. He has also proposed cuts in jobs and benefits.
T.C. Gillespie, president of the Tarrant County Central Labor Council, traveled from Fort Worth to participate in the demonstration. Gillespie said Walker's actions constitute "an anti-worker" attack that has the backing of the "hard Republican right" and the Tea Party movement.
"This is the biggest union-busting effort I've ever seen," said Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who also participated in the vigil.
Union groups in other states have also staged demonstrations to support the Wisconsin workers.
Texas public employees are also facing job cuts and the reduction of healthcare benefits as lawmakers try to write a state budget in the face of a multibillion-dollar shortfall.
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