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NJ Unions Rally At Statehouse For Wisconsin Public Workers

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Wisconsin state workers protesting a move to severely curtail their collective bargaining rights have found allies in New Jersey.

Workers yelled "We will not back down, we will not give up, this is a fight for all working Americans," 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports


Wisconsin Public Unions
Thousands of protesters rally at Wisconsin's legislature (credit: MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Public workers and union sympathizers turned out for a unity rally at the New Jersey Statehouse on Friday, despite the inclement weather. It's being hosted by the AFL-CIO.

New Jersey AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech said labor leaders view Wisconsin as ground zero in their fight to preserve collective bargaining.

"This isn't just about New Jersey. This is people all across America to stand up and fight to restore social and economic justice," he said. "We're prepared to make some concessions, but we just want an issue of fairness."

He called Gov. Chris Christie's budget proposal tying property tax rebates to union givebacks divisive.

"We're being blamed as the people that are responsible for this. You know, he's taking advantage of this because of the economy," Wowkanech told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to end nearly all bargaining with public employee unions to help balance the state budget. Overnight, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved a bill that would take collective bargaining rights away from most public employees.

However that measure still has to pass the Wisconsin Senate, and Democratic members of that body remain in hiding.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has proposed raising the retirement age and requiring public workers to pay more for pension and health benefits. But the first-term Republican says he supports "responsible" collective bargaining..

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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