Palin: Wisconsin Doing Right Thing With Unions

MADISON, Wis. -- Sarah Palin defended Wisconsin's governor at a tea party tax day rally Saturday, telling hundreds of supporters that his polarizing union rights law is designed to save public jobs.

Braving snow showers and a frigid wind outside the state Capitol building, the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate told tea partyers she's glad to stand with Gov. Scott Walker. Hundreds of labor supporters surrounded the rally, trying to drown Palin out with chants of "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Scott Walker has got to go!" and "Recall Walker!"

"Hey, folks! He's trying to save your jobs and your pensions!" Palin yelled into the microphone. "Your governor did the right thing and you won! Your beautiful state won! And people still have their jobs!"

Walker, a Republican, signed a bill into law last month that calls for almost all public workers to contribute more to their pensions and health care coverage, changes that amount to an average 8 percent pay cut. The plan also strips them of their right to collectively bargain on anything except wages.

Walker has said the law will help balance a $3.6 billion hole in the state budget and give local governments the flexibility they need to absorb deep cuts in state aid. Democrats, though, think Walker wants to weaken unions, one of their strongest constituencies.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the Capitol to protest nonstop for weeks against the plan and minority Democrats in the state Senate fled to Illinois to block a vote in that chamber, drawing national attention to the controversy.

Republicans eventually passed the plan without them and Walker signed the measure in early March. Democrats managed to win a temporary court order blocking the law from taking effect, but tensions are still running high over the measure.
AP