Obama Shies Away from Protests

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Hananel Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Union leaders urged Vice President Joe Biden during a White House meeting last month to go to Wisconsin and rally the faithful in their fight against Gov. Scott Walker's move to curtail collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Request rebuffed, they asked for Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

So far, however, the White House has stayed away from any trips to Madison, the state capital, or other states in the throes of union battles. The Obama administration is treading carefully on the contentious political issue that has led to a national debate over the power that public sector unions wield in negotiating wages and benefits.

A few labor leaders have complained openly that President Barack Obama is ignoring a campaign pledge he made to stand with unions; most others say his public comments have been powerful enough.

The stakes are high as Obama looks toward a grueling re-election campaign. Republicans have begun airing television ads linking Obama to "union bosses" standing in the way of budget cuts in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states. …