WASHINGTON -- A group of Wisconsin union officials has voted to ban Republican politicians from a local Labor Day parade, underscoring how partisan the state has become in the wake of this year's clashes over collective bargaining rights.
The Marathon County Central Labor Council, which sponsors the parade, includes some 30 local unions.
Council President Randy Radtke said in a statement on the group's website that politicians are only welcome at the festivities if they have demonstrated support for workers' rights.
"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," Radtke said. "It is a time for working families to come together to celebrate their hard work and a time where we recognize the labor movement for all they have given us -- the weekend, the 40 hour work week, child labor protection, a safe work environment."
In February, the 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin state Senate left the state to deny their GOP colleagues a quorum and prevent them from pushing forward Gov. Scott Walker's (R) controversial budget repair bill, which stripped most of the collective bargaining rights from public employees. Through a last-minute budgetary maneuver, Republicans were able to pass the measure. All but one GOP state senator voted for it.
On the federal level, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) represents Wausau. In a statement to local ABC affiliate WAOW, Duffy's office decried the labor council vote. "Having walked in this parade in past years, Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event," a Duffy spokesperson said.
"[The congressman] walks in a lot of parades, and staff called to register a spot last week and was informed in colorful language that no Republicans were being allowed to participate this year," added Duffy Chief of Staff Brandon Moody in an email to The Huffington Post.
During the winter's budget fight, the congressman praised Walker but tried to keep his distance from the governor's stance on collective bargaining. In February, the editorial board of the Wausau Daily Herald called his reluctance to weigh in "just plain lame."
Radtke said the reaction to his decision has been mixed, with "some negative comments but mostly it has been overwhelmingly positive."
Other politicians who won't be welcome at the parade include state Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) and state Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).
This story was updated with additional comment from Duffy's office.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified the broadcast network with which WAOW is affiliated. The station is an affiliate of ABC, not NBC.
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