Washington: Taking aim at a potential Republican presidential contender, President Barack Obama slammed Wisconsin`s union-busting Governor Scott Walker on Monday for eroding American workers` bargaining rights.
Walker, who became a national name for stripping most public-union workers of their collective bargaining power, passed a bill in 2011 to end most public sector workers` collective bargaining rights -- sparking protests and a major local political firestorm.
Walker, 47, on Monday signed an additional law that stops unions from being able to collect mandatory fees from workers they represent who refuse to join and pay dues.
Now seen as one of the leading Republican presidential hopefuls along with Jeb Bush, the Wisconsin governor has been courting his party`s more conservative wing just as Bush has tended toward moderate ground.
In messages seeking to raise funds for his bid, Walker defended the law, saying it would have an "immediate positive effect on our economy."
Obama, using familiar Democratic language, said Walker was handing hard-working Americans a raw deal.
"It`s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions -- workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today," the president said in a statement.
"So it`s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there`s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government."
A "deeply disappointed" Obama said the law will "weaken, rather than strengthen" workers.