Wisconsin's South Central Federation of Labor is getting ready to call a general strike if the state's legislature passes Governor Scott Walker's bill to curtail collective bargaining rights. The Federation, which represents 97 unions and more than 45,000 workers in six counties, on Monday voted to endorse work shut-downs by both union and non-union workers around the country if the bill passes and the governor signs it. Federation delegates say they will strike even if unions elsewhere around the state or the country don't. The potential strike would affect government administrative offices, construction sites, schools and private businesses, but critical life-and-death services would be spared. University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein, who has written extensively on labor and government issues, says there is a strong possibility of a major strike, since national leaders know that if they lose the battle over bargaining rights in Wisconsin, the same rights will fall in other states as well. Paul Secunda, a Marquette University professor who studies labor law, agreed that a general strike may be inevitable. "The ultimate power that employees have at the end of the day is to withhold their labor. This would be the ultimate trump card that unions could pull out, and it will be extremely powerful," Secunda said.
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