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Republicans Barred From Labor Day Parade as Wisconsin Union Fight Simmers

 

A Wisconsin group of unions has barred Republican officials from attending a local Labor Day parade as payback for controversial collective bargaining legislation earlier this year, leading one congressman to call for an end to the "petty" disputes. 

The spat over the parade is just the latest flare-up between union supporters and GOP lawmakers. Protesters repeatedly have disrupted events with Gov. Scott Walker. Some have threatened to mount a recall campaign against him, though the state just endured a round of recall elections aimed at state legislators from both parties that did nothing to change the majority in the state Senate.  

The Marathon County Central Labor Council, a coalition of unions which sponsors the parade in Wassau, Wis., reasoned that lawmakers hostile to their cause should not be at the parade. 

"It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker's rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain," President Randy Radtke said in a statement. 

But Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, who represents the district, told Fox News it's time to start moving on. 

"It's been a little contentious in Wisconsin, but we all just went through a whole recall election and the folks in Wausau, they're sick of partisanship," he said Tuesday. "They want to see people start working together. They want to see all the bickering set aside." 

The mayor of Wausau reportedly is threatening to withhold city funding for the parade as long as the GOP boycott remains in place, but Duffy said he doesn't expect the group to reverse itself, though he hopes they'll reconsider next year.  

"I think in Wisconsin it has become so divisive, we have to start working to bridge that divide and this doesn't go to that end," Duffy said, adding, "We almost have to laugh at it." 

The partisan tensions from the collective-bargaining-bill brawl have not subsided. Though a round of recalls resulted in a gain of two Senate seats for Democrats, it did not change the partisan dynamic in the state. A new lawsuit against the law was filed after the state Supreme Court upheld the legislation.  

Some protesters are targeting Walker.  

Already the object of sustained and vocal protests, protesters gathered outside a school where Walker was visiting last week to read Dr. Seuss to kids. The building also had its locks vandalized. Members of the Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society reportedly said they will hound Walker wherever he goes.

State Republican Party Director Stephan Thompson decried the protest. 

"The effort to disrupt an education initiative is ... just the latest glimpse into the distorted tactics of the left," Thompson said in a statement. "These individuals have no discernable message except 'we will try to create chaos at any cost.'" 

Walker was also shouted at during the Wisconsin State Fair earlier this month. The incident led the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on its editorial page, to call for a time-out, "so folks can chill out." 

"Asking the demonstrators for a little show of civility is probably a waste of ink," the editorial board wrote. "But we'll still do it. Allowing the governor or anyone else to make the speech without interruption could be a good step toward a more rational and constructive public debate, the kind of debate that all sides say is needed. Protest all you want before and after, but let the speaker speak."

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