Union leaders rally in Wausau; Walker focuses on job creation - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Union leaders rally in Wausau; Walker focuses on job creation

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WAUSAU (WAOW)-- A group of union workers is traveling the state, blasting Governor Scott Walker and his policies. But Walker says those same policies helped balance the budget, and he's focused on job creation, not recalls.

"Let's recall Walker," said Wausau teacher Shelley Miller at the end of her speech during the "Reclaim Wisconsin" rally at the Labor Temple. The month-long tour is rolling through Wisconsin, and union leaders said the goal is to create awareness about the effects of the Governor's policies.

"We want to see a leadership in Wisconsin that can bring people together," said AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt. He said the Governor's move to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights was illegal.

But Marathon County Republicans disagree. "The unions want to reclaim control of Wisconsin. That's what the battle is about," said Cory Tomczyk who is one of the leaders of the Marathon County group. He argued that Governor Walker did what he had to do to balance a the budget.

"Governor Walker is not the evil man that they're trying to portray to the public. He's a man who's unafraid to make those decisions and to provide the leadership the state needed," he said.

"I want to be one of those people that helps us move forward," said Walker at an event Wednesday. When asked about rallies against him, Walker said he's not worried about distractions from the real issues facing the state. 

"My only campaign I'm focused on is the one to help the people of this state create 250,000 jobs. People can have all sorts of other distractions out in life, we're going to stay focused on jobs."

But union supporters said Walker's policies have hurt. 

"I know we all have to pitch in, but when it came to collective bargaining, I didn't feel that was right," said Miller. She's been teaching for 32 years, and said the Governor's decision to cut 1.6 billion dollars from public education has affected her students.

"When things are going wrong outside the classroom I get very upset, but when I get in the classroom it brings me back to why I'm here. It's the students," she said.

Governor Walker said he'll keep fighting for the state. "I'm not going to take anything for granted." Meanwhile, union supporters said they're not giving up either.

The "Reclaim Wisconsin Tour" plans to make seven more stops. See the list below for dates and times.

·         Thursday, February 23:  Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls, Phoenix Park, 5:30 p.m.
·         Monday, February 27:  Green Bay, UA Local 400 Hall, Kaukauna, 5:30 p.m.
·         Monday, March 5:  Racine, Monument Square, 5:30 p.m.
·         Wednesday March 7:  Milwaukee, Serb Hall, 7:00 p.m.
·         Friday, March 9:  Madison, Capitol, 6:00 p.m.
·         Saturday March 10:  Reclaim Wisconsin March, Capitol, 1:00 p.m.
 
Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton
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