In protest of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal, a total of 14 Democratic legislators have fled the state, many teachers have abandoned their classrooms and tens of thousands of Americans have convened at the State House, with some people even sleeping inside the building.
Walker's plan, if approved, would limit collective bargaining rights for most State employees as well as force them to contribute more money to their health insurance and pensions. Several prominent Republicans have pledged their support for the embattled governor, including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
According to Politico.com, Pawlenty recently released a video backing Walker in the labor dispute. Pawlenty, who is a rumored GOP Presidential candidate for 2012, directed viewers to sign a petition titled "Stand With Governor Scott Walker."
"The gig is up for public employee groups who demand better benefits than the taxpayers who are paying the bill," the petition says. "I'm confident Governor Walker's reforms will succeed in Wisconsin. Stand strong, Scott — average taxpayers everywhere are rooting for you."
Management expert Brooks Holtom of Georgetown University has taken exception to some protesters' claims that public union workers are paid considerably less compared to private employees. Holtom told NPR that when job security and benefits are taken into consideration, there's no question that public workers are pampered.
"At a time of high unemployment, it's not hard to understand why people would question why these [public union] workers have these protections," Holtom told the media outlet. "What's so special about these workers?"