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Oak Cliff Protesters Support Wisconsin Union Workers

By Marianne Martinez, CBS 11 News
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Union supporters gathered in Oak Cliff on Feb. 26 to support picketing union workers in Wisconsin.

Union supporters gathered in Oak Cliff on Feb. 26 to support picketing union workers in Wisconsin.

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Kimetra Lewis stood outside a Dallas County building in Oak Cliff Saturday to support union members in Wisconsin.

“We’re out here supporting their cause,” Lewis said. “If they’re allowed to get away with this in Wisconsin, we’ll be faced with the same things.”

Lewis works for the U.S. Postal Service and is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers. She believes the union has helped secure her fair wages and benefits.

“I’m a single parent of three children,” she said. “If I had not had a job like this that provided me with the benefits, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of them.”

The rally in Oak Cliff was one of many that took place across the country to show solidarity with state workers in Wisconsin, who have been protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that would limit the collective bargaining rights of unions and require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions.

Texas is a right-to-work state, so unions do not have collective bargaining rights.

North Texas Republican Congressman Michael Burgess believes the governor of Wisconsin is doing what’s right for the state.

“The governor has an obligation to balance his budget in Wisconsin just as other states do and he is going about that with the tools he has available to him,” Burgess said. “There’s a broad understanding these cuts on the state, federal and local level are going to happen and they’re going to be uncomfortable.”

Some business owners say unions can be too powerful, and hurt the economy.

“Having a right to work state is best for everybody,” said Michael McIntyre, the C.E.O. of Dallas-based Benefits America, which offers discounted health care. “It keeps more people employed. It does help the economy and it attracts more businesses.”

McIntyre’s mother worked for General Motors in Michigan and was an active union member.  However, McIntyre doesn’t agree with how some unions operate.

“I do think there’s a reason for unions and a place for unions. However, their over-reaching power has devastated many industries in this country,” he said.

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