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Feb
2016
11

Actually Happening in Louisiana: Unions “Will Have a Friend in the Governor’s Office”

Bel Edwards BCTC unions

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While speaking at a Louisiana Building and Construction Trades Council meeting this month, newly elected Governor John Bel Edwards informed members and leaders that “they will have a friend in the governor’s office.”  In a runoff election to replace former governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, Bel Edwards defeated the controversial U.S. Senator David Vitter with 56.1 percent of the vote.  During his campaign he was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, teachers’ unions, and other labor groups.  Speaking to the BCTC, Edwards said:

“I remain firmly on the side of working men and women and making sure that they have the opportunity to be treated with respect, that they get a decent wage, that they get decent benefits and that they have safe working conditions. Not asking for too much.”

A pro-union governor in Baton Rouge could change the momentum in what has become an increasingly red state under a decade of conservative leadership.  Edwards said he met with business interests in the early stages of his tenure and will seek to ensure that they consider using a unionized workforce.  He does not want unions to receive special treatment, rather he aims to ensure that they are given a fair shot.

Edwards will be forced to make some difficult decisions as the state seeks to remedy its budget problems.  There is an estimated $700 million budget gap for the fiscal year ending on June 30th and a projected $2 billion shortfall for next year.  A recent Forbes article went in-depth on the issue, noting that the current administration “will have to pay for past budget sins.”

Edwards will likely have to raid the rainy day fund, use funds from the Gulf Spill settlement, and cut state spending.  Unfortunately, he will also likely have to raise taxes, something he described to union members as “shared sacrifice by everybody, and then we can turn the corner to shared prosperity.”

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