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Budget Battles Are About 'Union Busting': AFL-CIO's Trumka

Protesters fill the courtyard and steps outside the State Capitol building on February 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Protesters were demonstrating against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers.
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Protesters fill the courtyard and steps outside the State Capitol building on February 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Protesters were demonstrating against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers.

The deficits that have led to unrest in various states, including Wisconsin, aren’t about fiscal gaps, but “breaking the unions,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest labor unions told CNBC Wednesday.

“In Wisconsin, they [the unionized public workers] said they’d accept the governor’s cuts [Governor Scott Walker, a Republican],” said Trumka, who on Wednesday was named by President Obama to a commission on jobs and competitiveness.

“We’d like some other people to share as well. It shouldn’t just be middle-class workers making the sacrifice. [It should be] the rich people. Wall Street should kick in more too. When that happens, you’ll see us [the union] at the front of the line.”

Trumka added that the wealthy in Wisconsin have received tax cuts.

Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wisc.), told CNBC Wednesday that labor unions are "bankrupting states."

Trumka questioned why labor unions are being blamed for budget shortfalls. He said that in Texas, which has the second-largest budget gap among the states, is a “right-to-work” state, meaning that public employees have no collective bargaining rights.

He added: “Workers in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are protecting the middle class.”

Democrats kept the Wisconsin Assembly up overnight Tuesdaywith a filibuster, in another attempt to block Governor Walker’s plan to strip public sector workers of nearly all of their bargaining rights, reported the AP.

The bill in the Wisconsin legislature would require most public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions and health insurance and also would strip them of their right to collectively bargain anything except salaries, according to the AP. Walker has said the plan is crucial to solving a $137 million deficit in the state's current budget and a $3.6 billion shortfall in the 2011-13 budget.