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In the wake of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's heavy-handed attack on his state's public employees, it's a welcome sign that most Americans are telling pollsters that they object to such union busting tactics.

By a margin of nearly 2-1, a New York Times/CBS poll found the public opposes weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions. The solid margin is even more impressive, inasmuch as most people in private sector jobs themselves likely will never work in a union shop.

The outcome of the dispute in Wisconsin remains uncertain. But it is clear that Walker, and his Republican supporters and tea party activists, have gone too far. As such, the governor has undercut what should be a legitimate debate over bringing government pay and benefits into line with fiscal reality.

Reasonable concessions should be up for discussion to help state and local governments cope with nearly unprecedented money woes due to the recession.

Public employee unions have done well at the negotiating table, mainly because the elected officials on the other side of the table are more interested in getting re-elected than in representing the interests of taxpayers.

Yet, the polls say the nation is a long way from a majority constituency in favor of banning union bargaining.

That's an important revelation for Pennsylvanians, given the news that conservative activists have identified their state as one of three where union benefits and power are to be targeted. The other two are Ohio and Indiana.

In Ohio, lawmakers last week moved ahead with a ban on strikes by public workers and limiting collective bargaining to wages and working conditions. Meanwhile, Indiana officials were backing away from joining the anti-union movement.

Recent stirrings in Pennsylvania have been limited to the announcement that a former state representative from the Reading area, Sam Rohrer, will serve as state executive director for a tea party affiliated group with backing from a pair of oil-billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries.

There's little indication that Rohrer's new employer, Americans for Prosperity, will have any luck securing a foothold in a state with such deep union roots. Indeed, the prospect of outside, moneyed interests taking aim at the job security of folks earning decent, but hardly excessive, middle-class salaries sounds like fodder for a union organizing drive.

With Gov. Tom Corbett about to throw down the gauntlet over state spending by presenting a budget with likely deep cuts, there's even less time to waste on ideological battles over the right to collective bargaining.