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GOP lawmakers can march in Wisconsin Labor Day parade

By John Rondy

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin labor official reversed on Wednesday a move to bar Republican lawmakers from a Labor Day parade in Wausau after the mayor said his town would not pay for the event unless the GOP was allowed in.

Marathon County Labor Council President Randy Radtke said last week that Republican politicians were not welcome at the parade because the party had pushed a law curbing collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin public workers earlier this year.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple, who claims no affiliation with either party, responded that the labor council would have to reimburse the city up to $2,000 for the cost if organizers excluded Republican politicians.

On Tuesday night, Radtke issued a press release announcing his decision to allow Republican politicians to be part of the event after all, although he said the council had countless offers to help pay for parade costs.

"We didn't start this fight in Wisconsin, but were responding to anti-worker positions and policies supported by local Republican politicians, including those who have complained about not being invited," Radtke said in the statement, posted on the website of WAOW-TV in Wausau.

"Just like we'd hoped, our decision has stimulated a great debate in our community about the meaning of Labor Day," Radtke said.

"But because we don't want to wind up having community groups and school bands affected in the process, we will let everyone march and hope these Republican politicians finally take away some lessons about what Labor Day really means. We know their actions and voting records speak more loudly than waving at any parade."

(Writing and reporting by John Rondy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski)

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