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Union Workers, Tea Party Activists Clash at Colorado Capitol

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Photo by Kirk Siegler
Several hundred union workers and leaders gather for a rally in support of Wisconsin union workers outside the Colorado capitol.

Union protests following the labor battle at the Wisconsin legislature are spilling into other states.  In Colorado, union leaders and workers staged a rally Tuesday outside the state capitol where public employee unions protested proposed cuts to their benefits.

Under a bright midday sun and waving signs with slogans like ‘Worker’s Rights are Human Rights’ and ‘Madison, Cairo, Denver,’ the boisterous crowd chastised Wisconsin’s Governor, and called on Colorado lawmakers to restore proposed cuts to state employee benefits. 

"Brothers and sisters, what is going on in Wisconsin is not an isolated event," said Dwayne Stephens, director of Colorado AFL-CIO.  "Attacks on basic-worker’s rights are sweeping the nation."

Faced with trying to close a $1 billion budget gap, Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper has said he has little choice but to make the cuts because there’s little appetite among voters for a tax increase. 

Some of those anti-tax groups staged a smaller counter-protest of their own just down the steps and lawn from the union rally. 

Wearing a “NObama” button, Sonja Chritton took a break from gathering signatures for a “Right to Work” petition.

"We’re all tightening our belts just like families and asking people to contribute just the same way the private sector does is not unfair," she said.

Governor Hickenlooper has made a similar argument.  But unlike in states like Wisconsin, the Democrat is not behind a push to crack down on labor bargaining laws.  

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.