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Reality Check: MN Public Workers And Their WI Counterparts

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

Republican leaders in Minnesota say they’re not focused on legislation to remove collective bargaining rights. However, Minnesota public workers have some of the same issues as their counterparts in the Badger State.

Minnesota has many different unions representing hundreds of thousands of public workers.

IN FACT, the sizes of our two state workforces are almost equal. 284,317 in Wisconsin. 283,351 in Minnesota.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is demanding public workers boost their pension contributions from 0 percent to 5 percent. In Minnesota, on the other hand, the 43,000 members of AFSCME already contribute 5.0 percent.

Wisconsin is also asking its public workers to increase health care contributions from 6 percent to 12 percent. Minnesota AFSCME workers already contribute 15 percent.

Unlike Wisconsin, there is no bill in Minnesota to remove the right of workers to collective bargaining. However, Republicans, who control the House and Senate, said public employees should expect wage freezes and pension cuts to balance the budget.

“We are going to have to look at public employees,” said Senator Amy Koch, (R-Buffalo), the Republican Majority Leader.

“And whether it is wage freezes, whether it’s pensions– these things are going to have to be looked at.”

There are similar cost-cutting efforts underway by other Republican governors like Chris Christie in New Jersey and John Kasich in Ohio.

It’s not the cost cutting efforts, however, that appear to be sparking such an outcry. It’s Wisconsin’s effort to abolish public employee unions.

That’s Reality Check.

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