Where does Minnesota’s delegation stand on Wisconsin and public unions?

WASHINGTON–In the interests of clarifying where Minnesota’s members of Congress stand on the dispute between public sector unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, MPR News examined their recent public statements. When a member had no statement on record, we asked for one. Here are excerpts of their statements:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R):

“Don’t let anyone tell you that the government workers in Wisconsin are losing their collective bargaining rights over wages,” Bachmann said in a speech to a South Carolina Republican women’s group. “They are not. They are retaining them. It’s their collective bargaining right over their benefits.”

“It isn’t that these unions are bad or evil, it’s just that we’ve got to get real about what we can and cannot afford,” she said.

Source: Reuters

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R):

No public statements and no statement provided to MPR News by publication time.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D):

“We are enormously proud of you,” Ellison says to the working people of Wisconsin and the country. “There’s nothing wrong with collective bargaining, with workers bargaining with management to come up with a fair pay and good, safe working conditions.”

Source: Press release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Sen. Al Franken (D):

“As a member of four labor unions, I know personally the importance of collective bargaining. For decades, my family’s health care was covered through the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America. Now as working Americans are under assault, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We know all too well that Scott Walker’s real purpose is not about balancing budgets. It’s about busting unions.”

Source: Statement to MPR News

Rep. John Kline (R):

On Wisconsin, Kline says praised Gov. Walker for trying to get a handle of the state’s pension and benefits for state employees. When challenged that unions have already met Walker’s demands, Kline said he didn’t “want to get into Wisconsin’s negotiations” but said politicians need to handle the hard reckoning of budget problems.

Source: MPR News

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D):

“It was a positive development when the workers agreed to cuts–everyone needs to be part of the solution to our budget problems. I believe, however, that the workers should have a right to have a voice and representation at the negotiating table.”

Source: Statement to MPR News

Rep. Betty McCollum (D):

“There should be no doubt that there is a war going on right now against workers, unions, and middle class Americans who want more jobs.

In Wisconsin, Ohio, and here in Congress, workers rights are under attack by union busting politicians.

It is time for Americans to stand up and fight for the rights of workers to organize and negotiate for safe working conditions, living wages, and basic benefits. It is time to stand up and fight against the attacks launched by a union busting Republican governors and their corporate sponsors.”

Source: Statement on the floor of the House of Representatives

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R):

“The American public expects their elected officials at state and federal levels to make the very tough choices in order to get their respective fiscal houses in order. Rep. Paulsen believes that Gov. Walker’s overall budget is on the right track, including his proposal to bring the state’s public employee system more in line with the Minnesota model. He also believes that it’s time for Wisconsin Senators to quit shirking their responsibilities and start serving the people who elected them.”

Source: Statement to MPR News

Rep. Collin Peterson (D):

No public statements and no statement provided to MPR News by publication time.

Rep. Tim Walz (D):

“I understand that tough budgeting decisions have to be made across the country and if the governor needs to negotiate with unions to discuss specific proposals, he has every right to do so. However, attempting to use a difficult budgeting situation for political purposes and to strip Wisconsin workers of their individual freedom to negotiate for a fair wage and decent working conditions is wrong. We should have an honest conversation about ways that we can all save money, but I don’t believe a kindergarten teacher in La Crosse or a high school teacher in Rochester caused our budget problems and I don’t believe taking away their freedom to negotiate will solve it either.”

Source: Statement to MPR News

  • Johnny Q

    What a crock! Ask Kline a loaded question that infers that the public unions in WI have already offered to give up on all wage concessions…which is not true. They’re agreed to a one year giveback on wages as long as the existing labor agreements remain in place, which prohibit any changes in wages unless agreed to by both parties. This ‘giveback’ was by two union bosses in WI who hadn’t even put it to their membership, so stop trying to bait the conservative politicians by citing as fact…something that is anything but.

  • Jamie

    Every time I see or hear an interview with a protester in Wisconsin, they say something along the lines of “We concede to paying more for our pensions and insurance. We just don’t want our right to collective bargaining taken away.” And my friend in Milwaukee says that everyone she knows has that understanding. It’s been common knowledge since just a couple days after the protesting began. It’s not “a crock.”

    And they’re not “union bosses” — they’re union leaders.

  • Tony

    Why is it that the working classes are always expected to sacrifice, but nothing is EVER asked of the wealthy?

  • Benjamin

    Let’s be clear on both sides of the debate that we are not talking about unions in general, we are talking about what types of collective bargaining rights should be granted or withdrawn from government workers and why/why not.