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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been playing an increasingly dangerous game of brinksmanship for his state. And a potentially very expensive one. His budget and transportation officials have informed him that he'd could be forfeiting millions in transportation funding from the federal government if his anti-union legislation is signed into law.

Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate "collective bargaining rights" that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as "protective arrangements" or "Section 13C arrangements," is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass -- in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

He probably figures the jobs lost would be union jobs, so what the hell. Half a billion Millions of dollars and a crippled state economy are nothing if he can crush labor. Wisconsin Dems in the House of Representatives, not being so sanguine about losing that money, have crafted an amendment to Walker's bill that would carve out an exemption for transit workers to protect their collective bargaining rights.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Progressive Hippie.

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