Whether it’s in Wisconsin or here in Maine, states are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of union workers. More specifically, Republican governors are trying to weaken unions and penalize public union workers and retirees.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker not only wants the public employees to pay higher rates for their health insurance and pension plans, but also wants to do away with their collective bargaining rights.

Here in Maine, “right to work” bills have been proposed which would undermine unions.

Gov. Paul LePage has proposed freezing the cost of living adjustments for retired state workers and public employees on the state retirement plan. The retirees are living on a fixed income, haven’t had an increase during the past two years, wouldn’t have an increase for the next two years, and then would be capped at a 2 percent increase.

Teachers, firefighters, other public employees and their supporters are not surrendering to this in Wisconsin. More than 40,000 protesters were in the capital to show their solidarity. Fourteen democratic state senators left the state to protect collective bargaining rights.

What will we do here in Maine?

First, I hope people stand up with their brothers and sisters in Madison, Wis. The battle that they are waging affects everyone. Then, I hope people stand united here in Maine.

Unions have a rich history of protecting workers and creating the middle class. Unions have fought for everyone’s rights; now, we must fight for them.

Heidi Brooks, Lewiston

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