Wisconsin Democrats Could Stay Away For Weeks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrats on the run in Wisconsin avoided state troopers Friday and threatened to stay in hiding for weeks, potentially paralyzing a state government they no longer control.

The party’s stand against balancing the state’s budget by cutting the pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights of public workers is the boldest action yet by Democrats to push back against last fall’s GOP wave.

But the dramatic strategy that’s clogged the Capitol with thousands of protesters clashes with one essential truth: Republicans told everyone unions would be a target, and the GOP has more than enough votes to pass its plans once the Legislature can convene.

The 14 Senate Democrats left the state Thursday, delaying action in that chamber on a sweeping anti-union bill. Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who was among those who fled, said Friday that the group was prepared to be away for weeks, although he would like the standoff to end as soon as possible.

“That really, truly is up to the governor,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Friday at a downtown Chicago hotel. “It’s his responsibility to bring the state together. The state is not unified. It is totally torn part.”

Erpenbach (URP’-ehn-bahk) accused new Republican Gov. Scott Walker of trying to rush the legislation, calling the governor’s style “dictatorial” at times.

“We all didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to do this,” he added. “The only other option we had to slow things down, was to leave.”

All 14 lawmakers planned to meet somewhere near Chicago to discuss their options, said Erpenbach, who said he had not spoken to any Republican lawmakers since leaving.

Meanwhile, massive protests at the state Capitol entered a fourth day as demonstrators vowed to stay as long as was needed to get the concessions they want.

“Hell no, we won’t go!” they chanted inside the Capitol as they banged on drums, sat cross-legged in the halls and waved signs comparing Walker to former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Thousands of teachers have joined the protests by calling in sick, forcing school districts — including the state’s largest, in Milwaukee — to cancel classes.

Outside the Capitol, demonstrators marched in a procession led by Jesse Jackson, who said workers “should be at the table full-strength to solve the problem.”

The governor “should not crush them to solve the problem. The labor-business-government is the balancing wheel. If you crush labor, there is no balance.”

The leader of the state’s largest public employee union said workers are willing to make financial concessions but will not give up their bargaining rights.

Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, issued a statement saying the protests would continue until Walker sits down with the unions.

In a sign that the commotion might be causing other problems for the governor, he pushed back releasing his two-year budget plan by one week to March 1.

He will still deliver a speech to lawmakers about the budget as planned on Tuesday, but won’t release his actual bill until the following week. A spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The governor insists the concessions he is seeking from public workers — including higher health insurance and pension contributions — are necessary to deal with the state’s projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall and to avoid layoffs.

Eliminating their collective bargaining rights, except over wage increases not greater than the Consumer Price Index, is necessary in order to give the state and local governments and schools the flexibility needed to deal with upcoming cuts in state aid, Walker said.

The arguments don’t wash with Democrats who say the fight is really about political power and quashing the unions, longtime supporters of Democrats. Protesters and Democrats are also furious over the speed that Walker’s moving — he publically unveiled the proposal just one week ago.

“This isn’t the Wisconsin we want,” said Mary Bell, president of the 98,000-member statewide teachers’ union. “We want a voice in the process.”

Ironically, Democrats were trying to remove themselves from the process as a way to get what they want.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he spoke with Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller by phone late Thursday and asked him to bring his caucus back to Madison, but Miller refused.

By Friday morning, Fitzgerald was tired of waiting. With the governor’s approval, he asked the state patrol on Friday morning to go to Miller’s house in a Madison suburb.

Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Ted Blazel said troopers knocked on Miller’s door and rang his doorbell, but no one answered.

The Wisconsin Constitution prohibits police from arresting state lawmakers while the Legislature is in session, except in cases of felonies, breaches of the peace or treason. Fitzgerald said he’s not looking to have Miller arrested, but he wants to send a signal about the circumstances at the Capitol.

The protests are growing so large that Capitol workers and lawmakers’ staff cannot safely move through the halls, Fitzgerald said, calling the situation “a powder keg.”

“I’m starting to hold Sen. Miller responsible for this,” Fitzgerald said. “He shut down democracy.”

Fitzgerald said Republican support for the bill remains strong. “If anything, what’s going on around this building is galvanizing this caucus,” he said.

Democrats say it’s Republicans who are being undemocratic through their unwillingness to negotiate as the bill rockets through the GOP-controlled Legislature.

“This is wrong!” Minority Leader Peter Barca shouted from the floor of the Assembly as Republicans left after turning off the microphones. “Desperately wrong, and we will not stand for it!”

Democrats left to meet in caucus with no indication when they would return. Barca said he expected a “long, protracted debate” over their strategy.

Republicans hold a 57-38 majority in the Assembly, but they need 58 lawmakers present to take up the bill. That puts the lone independent, Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer, in a powerful position.

Ziegelbauer said he would show up, but hoped to convince Republican leaders to first make changes to the collective bargaining parts of the bill.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said the chamber would vote on the bill Friday, but his spokesman said no decision had been made on whether they would attempt to proceed without Democrats.

The protests have attracted as many as 25,000 teachers, grade school children, college students and other workers over four days. The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, with only nine people cited for minor acts of civil disobedience.

Rallies in support of the Wisconsin protests were popping up around the country, including in Minnesota and New York.

“Wisconsin’s newly elected governor is waging one of the most vicious attacks on working people our nation has seen in generations,” said Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association that represents most New York state workers.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane called the walkout in Madison the boldest action Democrats have taken since midterm elections swept Republican to power in statehouses across the country.

Walker “has been so strident that the way he’s engaged . has effectively given the Democrats the high ground in terms of how they’re responding,” Lehane said.

“What Wisconsin is going through isn’t all that different from other states, but the way it’s being handled is,” Lehane said.

President Barack Obama has also weighed in, saying in an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ that Walker’s bill to “an assault on unions.”

Under Walker’s plan, state and local public employees could no longer collectively bargain over any issue except wage increases that are no higher than the Consumer Price Index. It would also make workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums. State employees’ costs would go up by an average of 8 percent.

The changes would save the state $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

Unions could still represent workers, but they could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized. Local police, firefighters and state troopers would retain their collective bargaining rights. But despite the exemption, many of them have shown up at the rallies in support.

The proposal marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees.


A leading Wisconsin lawmaker who’s staying away from his home state out of protest says there’s no fixed date to return.  Sen. Jon Erpenbach is in Chicago right now. He says all 14 Senate Democrats will meet somewhere in Illinois Friday but will not say exactly where or when.

WCCO’s Chad Hartman Interviews Sen. Jon Erpenbach

When asked by WCCO’s Chad Hartman whether Democrats would return if the Governor agreed to a meeting, Erpenbach said “I don’t know.”

Erpenbach and fellow Democratic senators left Wisconsin on Thursday to delay the near-certain passage of a bill backed by Republicans and GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • John

    Good for Walker. Hopefully he keeps his backbone. Funny hearing about the Senators leaving the State.

    • Sam Thompson

      Go gov Walker! If Minnesota only had a Governor like you… tear

      • 2V

        Oh, thank goodness that we do not have a gov like Walker. We have a gov that has respect for people, talks about the situation, is open to putting a fix in place – we snared a good one when Dayton threw his hat in.

      • LLP

        We be worse off then we are now The Greedy Old Party rises again. Take from the poor and hard working reward the rich

      • Really?

        We got deer in the headlights Dayton. ANYTHING would be an improvement!!! Even a fence post! I wonder what kind of drugs Dayton does to get that “look”?

      • PAUL

        unfoutanatly you can have walker WE DON”T WANT HIM ! WE have a great gov. IN MARK DAYTON THANKS BUT NO THANKS WALKER IS AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Deb

        You could move there Sam, we won’t miss you!!

      • Really?

        Agree. And love that the dems have to come to the capitol to pick up their pay checks that they never earned! Unions=a bunch of thieves!!

    • Mike

      It’s already time to recall Walker

      • Ginger Shepla

        It’s time to recall the senators that skipped town and refuse to do their job.

      • Lori

        Walker needs to step down and get an education from those teachers.
        God Save us all for what he and his bag are doing. Horrible.

    • Terry Nelson

      Walker inherited a budget surplus!!! His first bills in Jan. were corporate tax cuts which then gave Wisconsin a deficit. This was just a ploy to destroy the unions!!!

    • The other Dave

      Wow John, it amazes me that people celebrate the decline of workers rights…..are you too rich to care or are you blinded by the fear brought on by the rhetoric of big business that “it could be worse”

    • Jason

      Wow if I refused to show up for work I would be fired. Why should they be treated different, after all I pay thier wage.

      • C.

        No – they live and work by a differeent set of rules…
        And that is why we are having this discussion… :(

    • jjr

      teachers should be thankful they have a job to walk out on,and quit complaining about having to make sacrifices.

      • jay

        give me a job that pay around $30.000 to start, and only work only nine months a year

      • MN Teachers

        Jay: It’s $30,000 to start if you have an M.Ed. (in which case you’re going to be paying off student loans with it), and it doesn’t climb much from there. Also, teachers do a lot of work in the summer- that’s when most of the planning gets done-they’re just not getting paid for it. What they’re fighting for is to be able to negotiate with the school board so that the salary stays large enough to live on. It also ensures that there aren’t unreasonable terms in the contract. My first teacher contract included a rule that essentially made it possible for my boss to put me on call 24/7- I could be called in to work at 2am on a Saturday and, if I didn’t show, it was grounds for termination. Now, fortunately he never made me do that, but I still had to be in for 8, 10, 12, hour days -with no extra compensation. Teachers aren’t a greedy bunch -nobody becomes a teacher for the money- but they do need enough to provide for themselves and their families.

  • Gramma

    Good for the DEMS!!!!!!! It sure looks like WALKER is trying to PULL A FAST ONE.

    • Me

      There’s nothing sneaky about this. He has the votes and doing this the right/legal way unlike using reconciliation to back-door healthcare reform.

      • mnworker

        Actually, he was trying to rush this through without enough debate.

      • Sneaky...YES!!!!

        This is totally sneaky. Walker needs to get a real education from those teachers. If there are busses going from MN to join them, count me in.

      • The other Dave

        it was once legal to make workers work around the clock and pay them little to nothing; unions and collective bargaining changed this….threatening to call out the National Guard a few days ago may have been legal, but it still wasn’t right……

  • Dogg

    Why does the media continue to get this WRONG. It is elimination the right to bargain for Medical, Retirement (that they do not pay for now) paid days off and fringe benefits. Walker wants them to Pay approximately 12.85 % for both Medical and retirement,this will effect him and his staff as well and is still well below the average paid by the rest of the country. They will still be allowed to bargain for there wages, anything over the consumer price index will have to go to the people of wis for a vote.

    Don’t tell me this is about the kids Madison schools have been closed for three day do to a sick out/ Illegal strike this is about money.

    • the crux of the biscuit

      Of course it’s about money. The wealthy in this country have been making out like bandits the last 30 years. The rest of us? We get F’ed by the right wing every chance they get. Tax the rich. If they want less government, they can move to Somalia. I hear they haven’t got much of ANY government so it should be exactly what they are looking for…..

      • Claudia

        Don’t give me that statement that it is your money the “union workers” are taking. I went years with out a pay raise because the money was applied to pension payments or rising health insurance premiums. It was my money used to make the payments. I didn’t get both a raise and the payments. I’d like to see the “real workers” in a classroom. You wouldn’t last for 10 minutes! You can’t stand your kids home for a week vacation. You can’t wait for them to go back to school after the summer break. Give me a break!!! And if you are saying that the teachers are the rich???? Wow, are you mislead. Yes, teachers in the cities make more than rural teachers…..but they aren’t the rich.

      • Frank

        Ignorance. If the rich left so would the jobs. You’re a socialist ignorant. Move to Canada please.

    • Deb

      Your right!!!! It is Republicans trying to do their dirtiest!

      • Chuck


      • Chuck

        See the Dogg’s note above as he clarifies what this is about…
        Stop twisting this thing into something it is not…
        You are WRONG in this propaganda supporting your out of touch union entitlements… Go back to the facts and settle down.
        Walker is not the problem here either, as he is trying to solve YOUR problem.

      • Deb

        Chuck, all I can say to people like you is hahhahahahahahahahahaha bull!

      • Chris

        And how do you justify teachers calling in sick to protest???
        That is an illegal strike and they should fire all that appear on TV as they are lying to their employer… and that is how they negotiated the obscene contracts they have now… under false pretenses, lies and threats to line their own pockets… I think I am going to throw up…

      • Teachers Rights

        Deb ~ You are so right….. Of course the Republicans out there are going to be against it they are the ones getting rivher while the school teachers who put up with “their” kids all day long get nothing…..Chuck obviously needs to get a life and maybe become a “real” teacher or “real” worker…those of us that are struggling can really see the real picture….. I am not a school teacher nor a public worker, but where would I be today without you… my kids would be not educated and not able to get a decent paying job….

      • Deb your wrong Chuck is right

        Please don’t spin something out of nothing you are looking well how can I say this DUMB

      • Chuck

        Teachers Rights, You do not know or understand anything about me or where I am coming from as I work as hard or harder than you, so stop the nonsense! You go on and on about how bad off we would be without teeachers? Who said anything about doing away with teachers? The proposal only limits the negotiating on the healthcare and pension benefits! Stop the awfullizing and go check the facts…

      • The other Dave

        Hey Frank,
        before you proclaim “Ignorance”, check your grammar: “You’re a socialist ignorant” doesn’t make sense. For example: “you, sir, are a misinformed ignoramus” would better support a statement such as yours. No, I’m not a teacher, I just paid attention to them.

      • Randy

        You sound like a typical left wing union member. Your the problem. So now be part of the solution. I have never talked to a teacher who wasn’t a democrat and had liberal views. It’s the same view they teach in the classroom to the children in schools and college. Not surprised those of voting age are the same ones who put Obama in office. Along with those who won’t work but collect the checks every month. No sympathy for teachers. Pay like everyone else

      • jjr

        the worst part about this is the teachers using their influence to brianwash the children with their weakminded political veiws

  • MAJ

    The free ride for government employees is over. They need to pay their fair share just as folks in the private sector have done all along. This crazy spending has to stop. Hats off to Gov. Walker for making a bold statement.

    • dunnski57

      Feel sorry for you MAJ. Public employees are NOT the problem, but you’ve drunk the kool aid of the Tea Party and found a scapegoat that you’ll ride forever. Don’t EVER think of the wealthy folks who hide money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands that they’ve made by sending jobs to India, Taiwan and China.

      • Cindy

        These workers life time pensions have built in adjustments for inflation.
        Does your private sector 401(k) have built in adjustments for inflation once you retire? You could get wiped out by inflation while government life time pension only go up. And if you run out of money you are out. A life time pension can just draw on more taxes for , as it seems, unlimited funding. The people who give out these life time pensions do not care about who will pay for them. Many cities and states are going broke because of government employee union life time pensions and the problem will only get worse. Public employees are a very big part of the problem.

      • J

        Hiding their money??? You mean just like Gov Dayton does?

      • Chris

        Again, their are Dems like Dayton who are so hypocritical…
        Hiding his furtune that we can only imagine and filing a tax return that coincidently is underneath the threshold of the new taxes he wants to add…
        How over the top sick is that?! And people are OK with it and go along with it because he says “tax the rich”??? Give us a break already…

      • Pat

        Or like the wealthy Governor we have here who hides his money in tax shelters in other states. Do you ever take a look at the photos of our Governor? He looks heavily sedated.

      • Claudia

        Cindy……our pensions do not just go up. I’ve had a pay cut in the pension the last 3 years. And we do pay in to the pension. We agree to payments made to that instead of a pay raise. We didn’t get both!
        But, this isn’t entirely about that. The more important issue is all right to bargaining is taken away. “He” says we can still bargain wages? OH? What leg do we have to stand on? There is no “right to strike.” There is nothing to make them pay women the same as men. We are set back 40-50 years.
        We will not have a right to discuss which insurance company, which plans.. We will not have a right to help decide calendar, number of hours/days of work. We will not have a say in what we teach, how we teach. We will not have a voice in reform. College educated slaves.

      • dunnski57

        My public sector pension has no such automatic adjustments for inflation. Where do you people get these ideas??

    • Public Service Ain't No Free Ride

      Fine… then pay us private sector wages with the ability to negotiate our salaries and benefits, give us lucrative stock options and bonuses for high performance and we’ll be happy to pay our “fair share”.

      • Chuck

        What color is the sky in your world?
        I do not know anyone with the ability to negotiate salaries and benefits and get lucrative stock options and bonuses for high performance…
        If that is your imaginary benchmark, I think we may have hit on the problem…
        Your expectations and lifestyles are based on watching too much TV or something… I don’t get it.

      • lib

        You got it high performance, if you union folks actually performed you might have a legitimate argument.

      • RR

        Negotiate salaries? Benefits? Lucrative stock options and bonuses? Are you kidding me? Where have you been the past couple of years? Have you heard anything aobut the great recession?

      • OK

        Wow, I think you just assume that you would actually get a private sector job if one was available for you comparison to make sense. A private sector worker in competition with a public sector worker for a private sector job. Public sector workers and their entitlement mentality would be on the bottom of the candidate list. How about you get out and try earning your money instead of the “GIVE us lucrative…” mentality. It just hit me that you dared use the term Public Service in your user name. Just amazing.

    • Just the facts, ma'm

      @ Cindy — no, more like Denny Hecker.

    • The other Dave

      I’m not a government worker and with the exception of a stint in the Navy, never was. With that said, to MAJ and all others that think government workers have “a free ride”, etc it’s too easy fall into the stereotype of “they don’t work.” and besides you forget that they pay taxes too……

  • Deb

    Before you throw stones, know what it is you are talking about. There is so much more to what the employees have. They have a good union, and you don’t. End of story!

    • Lexie

      Union government employees generate nothing for the US economy.
      Their pay comes from taxes, from my pocket and not from what they produce. Maybe some people forgot that… or maybe we should all be Union governmemt employee if it such a great thing! How would that work out?

      • Deb

        Sorry you could never manage to join a union, you must be one that sits back and just takes what you get… though you know you deserve more respect!

      • Duh!

        Union members pay taxes too…

      • Josh

        Last time I checked, I paid the teachers’ union for their services. It was deducted from my paycheck.

  • Deb

    Start the cuts at the top!

  • Private Pensions will be Next

    I earned a private sector pension which I didn’t directly contribute to. The cost of that benefit was my lower payscale (commercial banking). I fear private sector companies will be given the green light now to reneg on their obligations to employees with 20, 30 and 40 years of service.

    Soon we’ll all be part-time workers with no benefits, homes, or rights. ERISA will be history.

    • RR

      Ok Mr./Ms Gloom & Doom, that won’t likely happen. Why? Because both the gov’t and private sector companies still need to offer competive salaries & benefits to attract & maintain qualified talent. If you end up working part tiime with no benefits, it will be because that’s all your position & qualifications are worth in the overall job market.

      • Deb

        You are funny RR! Get real… they needed to do that before, and why do you think unions were needed????

      • Kate

        ” If you end up working part tiime with no benefits, it will be because that’s all your position & qualifications are worth in the overall job market.”

        Spoken by someone comfortably employed with no imagination.

        Just more of the “I’ve got mine, why the hell should I care if anyone else gets theirs” mentality that is sweeping the right. You pray to the money god, and feel the bounty you receive is based on your righteousness.

        What a mean, ugly little heart you have.

        • Dennis Abitz

          nice job Kate

        • mark from mntaxwaste.com

          @KATE you must be talking about the Liberal agenda mine! mine! because you all act like victims. The Union in WI is sucking the tax payer dry

          • One of the dying middle class

            Mark the clueless should be your handle. Corporate greed is sucking WI dry.

            • Cheryl

              Big Government is WORSE than corporate!!

              I just got done working with an EPA employee who got back from Orlando on a seminar training… (your tax dollar) and he’s now off to Washington for another training seminar… (your tax dollar).

              • Cheryl

                Let’s not forget the first class tickets purchased while on the job (your tax dollar).

                • Josh

                  At least they’re learning something useful and not riding around in new cars paid for by bank bail-out money.

                • John


                • Deb

                  goodbye John…. you just don’t have one!

                • Julie

                  In the end, once this passess, WI and it’s people will be so much better off. It’s just a matter of time.

                • Steve

                  Let’s look at who’s suffering now:
                  1. The students who are currently missing class, because their teachers want more money.
                  2. The parents who have to stay at home from work, til their kid’s teachers return to school.
                  3. The taxpayers who’s policians are not showing up for work – There’s a vote for that later on.
                  4. The taxpayers who have to pay for teachers saleries, who should be at school serving the public and not at the capitol.

                  Once this passes, and it will, everyone will be better off – Just like Obamacare! ;-)

                • Tanya

                  I’m so glad I’m not part of a union, it’s so refreshing!!

                • Margaret

                  Deb you need to get out of the closet and get a breath of fresh air… Enjoy what’s going on around you.

            • Cadee

              It’s called capitalism, you should enjoy it. It works much better than socialism. Most of your relatives left their homeland to enjoy capitalism. I’m sorry it’s not working out for you… Have you tried looking for help?

  • Deb

    Before the republicans are allowed to do this… ask them what they are giving up!!! Tell me what? They need to talk sense, show what they are giving up and ask all walks of life to give something too!! Cut their benefits and you would probably be OUT of trouble!!

    • Pat

      Your points are all invalid. Now they your meds and wait for your government check. It’s in the mail

      • Dennis Abitz

        moron are you really that stupid??

  • Rlensjo

    I am so happy some of you are okay that Walker just gave away how many billions to big business and now want to make public employeeds suffer, they already make less than people who have their same eductation. This is union busting plain and simple. The rich get richer, and Karl Rove is writing the game plan. Dont’ worry unless you are a millionaire you are next if you do not support the rights of the little people now.

    • Dave

      YES; your are correct, sir!!

  • Deb

    Pretty sure the governor and the republicans have ALL the same benefits and pay that union works have half of… where are their cuts???

    • Andy


      What is your solution to the 3.6 billion defecit? Ignore it and go bankrupt? Would you rather they lay off 6000 jobs, or increase costs?

      • Dave

        …..no-no Andy I think you miss Deb’s point – the trouble across the board is politicians pitting us against one another. We all know the state and federal government argue over these things every year, yet very few vote down pay increases and/or cuts for themselves…..

      • Dennis Abitz

        why dont we allow the rich to pay the same percentage of taxes as the rest of us instead of taking everything. those of you who support walker deserve everything you get the rest of us dont. if your going to make a stupid remark at least acknowledge your ignorance so we can show you some pity.

  • It's about the Union Breaking, not money!!!

    Sorry folks, it is not about the money. I bet the public employees would take the cuts the Gov. is proposing. It’s about losing the right to organize and have a chance to get a fair pay and work rules when this dollar crisis is over!!

    • mark from MNtaxwaste

      So what you are saying is its like the Nurse strike we had last year when the nurses said it was about the patients not the money? But when the nurses got their money the strike was over! BS It’s about the money

      • Dave

        Of course it’s about money/livelihood; that’s why unions were formed in the first place, Mark. No one would be happy about cuts, but what does reducing and possibly eliminating collective bargaining have to do with balancing the budget and pay cuts??

    • lib

      When you receive payment from the taxes of others you should not have the right to strike or organize to recieve more and more and more. You barely work while on the job, why should taxpayers have to keep paying you for ever and ever and ever?

      • Duh!

        How do you know they “barely work”? Where are your facts? All the welfare checks are making it to the people who really do get paid for doing nothing, so some public employees must be getting something done!

      • Dave

        So lib, we don’t pay the cops; don’t pay the firemen; don’t pay the soldiers?? Pay from taxes or pay from services rendered; we all make money from other people’s money in one way, shape, or form and we all deserve the right of collective bargaining which is at the heart of this issue. And to comment to “Duh!”, it’s way to easy to fall back on the welfare argument, when the tax cuts to big business in this state and on a national level far outweigh welfare services and said cuts do not lead to more jobs, etc. The government would do well to have stipulations in place that would encourage big business to identify how they will use the tax cuts to promote more jobs, etc.

      • Josh

        You think a teacher “barely works”? You think the folks serving in the armed forces “barely work”? I’d like to see you tell them that to their face. I guess you want to support the troops in bumper stickers only, huh?

      • lib

        Government does not create jobs, so dollars are not the same as in the private sector and to equate a teacher with a solider makes not sense. Most teachers are socialists and teach that propoganda. Our soliders put their life on the line, imagine if they called in sick like the teachers in hudson, as in “barely work” just because they didn’t agree with something. Public unions think that because tax dollars are paying their wage it is bottomless, well states being broke show that to not be true. Yes some unions are required, I would never do away with a union for the Police for the obvious reasons, they need protection from every thug that crys foul, but teachers? no way.

      • Josh

        lib: You make “not sense”. You know very little about what teachers do, how hard they work, how broad of a political spectrum they fall on, and why they need protection. First of all, the only propaganda that they deliver is stuff that the religious right forces upon them -like excluding Thomas Jefferson from American History because he was a product of the enlightenment (Texas) or having to teach creationism as if it was based in some kind of fact (Louisiana). Secondly, I wish you would actually go visit a school and see what it is that teachers do. An overwhelming majority of teachers that I know are the most dedicated group of professionals that you’re likely to find. Even though they have to work long hours for little pay, lousy benefits, and have to put up with being bashed constantly by people like you, they dedicate their life to the betterment of this country. The reason they’re calling in sick is because they want to be treated with the respect that they deserve- so that they don’t have to go out and get a THIRD job.
        And as far as socialism is concerned, you belong with McCarthy in the fifties. You either have no argument and have to revert to baseless (and trendy) scare tactics, or you really haven’t done your political science homework and don’t know what you’re talking about. Either way, get smarter or go back in time – I think you’ll be a lot happier.

  • Teachers have rights

    Where would youb e withour the “REAL” teachers that taught you. I would say they are the “Real workers of America”

  • mark from MNtaxwaste

    Make sure WI takes the prorated pay out of their checks for running away

    • Deb

      Or their own for not negociating correctly…… see why there must be unions!?
      Can’t say that was the right way to do it, but KUDOS for the effort!!

  • Dean from Minnesota

    Sorry Wisconsin public employees. Your state is broke, Probably because of you. Do you want more now and none tomorrow or less now for more tomorrows? Minnesota is broke too. We all need to sacrifice.

    • Dave

      WI employees deserve to have right. They deserve to right to quit their job if they feel they can find a better one. the same right as every other private employee.

      • The other Dave

        yes, and they also have the right to contact their unions; again the money matters, but attempting to weaken the collective bargaining is the piece that should concern all of us…..

  • Dave

    WHAT?!! This goes beyond the issues. 1st there are threats of sending out the national guard and now the GOP leadership is endorsing sending state troopers after senators. I thought we lived in Wisconsin, not Libya. Is Walker going to be barbecuing with Gaddafi this weekend for some more pointers?!!

  • Not always true

    Union workers do contribute to their own pensions. Part of their paychecks are withheld and deposited into the pension plan. And if they are homeowners, they pay property taxes. Property taxes are used to pay local government workers wages. So therefore by being a homeowner, they are paying themselves. Quite a Catch-22

  • Audrey

    I sure hope someone brought the shovels to sleep on.

  • Dave

    When government workers start to pay even a small prtion of there medical expenses they might realize how good they have had it. They might start to appreciate what they have and understand where the rest of us are coming from.

    • LetsCommunicateBetter

      I am a government worker in a MN County and I do pay a portion of my medical expenses. I have a $2500 deductible and an HSA that I contribute to out of my paycheck to help meet that deductible. I pay 30% of the monthly premium out of my paycheck. I make contributions to my pension plan out of my paycheck. Do people really believe we don’t contribute to our own insurance and pensions?? That might be a big part of the problem–miscommunication and lack of facts.

      • Dave

        That sound like a health care plan myself and many other would love to have.

      • really?

        @Lets…. Couldn’t have said it better. I too work for a MN County and my family lives paycheck to paycheck. I too pay for medical with a $2500 deductible on top of that. We don’t have an HSA to help with that deductible. Oh yeah, and less we forget… last time I checked, I pay taxes too. I truly believe people are misinformed about government workers.

      • Dogg

        The teachers in Wis only pay about 5% to medical and do not HAVE to pay anything to retirement and are full vested immediately you can not use MN labor agreements as an indicator in this situation. Bottom line is Walker is going to kill 6k state jobs unless this gets passed and will not negotiate with the union. The Dems ran away to avoid a vote. This is a huge black eye to Wis by all involved. But mark my words wis is not the only state you will hear doing this type of action. Indiana did it with the simple stroke of the pen by executive order. Ohio and other states are watching and taking notes.

  • Nate

    I know this is Federal – but here is the problem with government. These jobs do not PRODUCE dollars, they USE dollars. Please don’t get into the idea that government supports private workers through social programs, rights, etc. Government is a bi-product of taxes – taxes that are generated by private sector employees. These figures should be flipped…

    Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available. (USA Today)

    • The other Dave

      ….that would include your politicians, who never vote a pay cut for themselves, nor pass on voting for raises for themseolves….

  • Crazy

    Amazing how the rest of the workforce gets by without unions.

    • Duh

      Amazing how a lot of the private sector IS unionized. Amazing how you can make a statement like that without having a clue what you are talking about.

      • Really? Duh?

        Really? Why do people like you spout idiotic comments without at least TRYING to search for facts? The United States Dept. of Labor reported that 6.9% of private sector employees are Unionized. Here’s the link in case you are too lazy to use google.


        Appx 12 of the total workforce in the US are Union.

        Like I said, amazing how the rest of us get by. An OVERWHELMING majority.

      • Pat

        I would rather represent myself than pay someone to represent me. The fat Union Cats are loving this.

    • The other Dave

      …..where do you live “Crazy”?? Unions are everywhere in the workforce. they came out of the private sector to bring about what we take for granted like 40 hour workweeks and basic safety and workers rights. It was the unions complaining that forced fair work practices, not the government deciding it was the right thing to do….geeze, read our history or turn on the History channel…..

      • The other Dave

        …hey “Crazy” it may be useful to recognize that to say the “rest of us” did imply that you felt unions were not in the private sector…. before you ask or call me names: no I’m not in a union and I don’t always agree with them, but I do appreciate what they did and still can do for workers’ rights…..

  • Eva

    Wisonsin is not broke. Walker is trying to pass this bill to make public workers pay for the newly enacted taxcuts he gave to the corporations last month. wisconcins budget was fine. He is trying to make ordinary people pay for his gifts to the corporations that have bought his election. Plus he is trying to destroy the unions. This is straight out of the Karl Rove and Koch Brothers textbook of how to make sure that the democratic party gets destroyed….

    • Bleh


      You forget that corporations are not owned by one person. They are owned by many thousands of people, and employ many thousands of people, which in turn pay taxes. Would you rather them move to South Dakota where there is very little corporate tax? Or even worse overseas?

      You people seem to think that by giving companies tax breaks, the money goes right into the CEOs pocket. Wrong. It goes into OUR pockets by keeping us employed. Those people are paying the way for state workers.

      You are incorrect. Wisconsin is broke, as are most states. They have been for a long time.

      • Deb

        keeping you employed???? The jobs go over seas!!! Wake up!!! YES< YES some unions have not done anything good by the high wages some now get… but then negociate with the people who are the unions….daaaaa. You might be surprised what they are willing to do when the upper crust is too!!

      • The other Dave

        ….so Bleh, when we read about inflated salaries of CEO’s, etc with massive layoffs in the same companies, this would be???……the oldest ploy is to pit us against one another with fear to convince us to keep our mouths shut or “it could be worse”; your comments prove that those tactics work if you let them….for centuries people allowed their fears to keep them destitute and this is why unions and collective bargaining became a reality……big business didn’t decide to provide fair wage and better work conditions and governments didn’t help because it was the right thing to do, this occurred because people formed unions demanded it….

    • Dave

      Rock On, Eva!!

  • pat

    Just for the fun of it show up at a government office on a Monday morning, they are in no way prepared to do business, most employees aren’t even in the office, then show up on Friday after noon, again most people especially the higher ups are gone for the weekend. Government employees have had a four day week forever, and paid for five, that is out and out theft.

  • Dao Yang

    As a private worker , I’m all for wasteful States and Federal spending, but not cutting on Schools and Public spending. All wasteful spending should be eliminated.

    • DaoIsRight

      What’s your definition of wasteful spending? Unfortunately, everybody has a different opinion on that.

  • LetsCommunicateBetter

    I’m not sure which government office you are talking about, but if I tried to get away with that, I’d be fired in a heart beat, and my union would not be able to protect me. I work in a smaller county, maybe that’s the difference, But please don’t lump us all together just because we are “government workers” I take pride in my job, as do my co-workers. I make less money than most of the people in the private sector in my county, but I like my job so I stay. Our county does not allow slackers, everybody knows everybody so we wouldn’t get away with it even if we wanted to!

    • Dave

      I hope your not at work now because i don’t like my tax dollars paying for someoone to be posting on here. I think you may have it better than you think. And you may make more than you think with your benefits.

      • LetsCommunicateBetter

        I work at 3 this afternoon til 11 tonight, but thanks for asking ;-)

    • lib

      I agree with Pat My daughter and I went to Wright County on a child support issue on a typical Friday, it was just passed noon, the young receptionist giggled, everyone who can help you is gone for the day?, fine I said “we’ll be back on Monday” again giggle “usually no one comes in till noon on Monday”. I challenge you go to any of these offices and see the people standing around talking and laughing with each other, and they are not on a break. However, if you stand there long enough eventually someone will wander over.

      • LetsCommunicateBetter

        Then you need to contact your Wright County Commissioners, County Administrator, Human Resources Director and the Department head and tell them what’s going on!

      • lib

        Tried that, they weren’t in their office, but I did call on a Friday.

      • I bet

        I’m betting you never tried to contact any of them. Just like to whine about it and not actually do anything about it. I highly doubt that all the people listed above were not in when you called. If is true, you need to clean house in Wright County. Maybe you’d like one of the jobs, since you seem to know everything.

      • lib

        True story I Bet, and I still challenge anyone go to the DMV, water dept any of these govt offices and you see people wasting your tax dollars. Ever go by and see the city workers, three leaning on a shovel watching one scratch his head. your tax dollar at work

      • Lib needs a reality check

        So you claim you tried to call all the County Commissioners in their County offices but they were all gone for the day? Now everybody knows you’re nothing but a liar. Most county commissioners, with the exception of maybe Hennepin and Ramsey don’t have full time county commissioners. They are elected officials who have other full time jobs and come to the county building for meetings. You probably can’t get a union job because they did a background check on you and know you’re worthless. Maybe if you quit feeling sorry for yourself and making everyone else the cause of your problems, you would see the truth and not spread vicious lies about things you know nothing about.

      • I think I've waited on Lib

        I bet those employees HAVE dealt with you before, and when they see you coming they pretend they didn’t, or they’re playing rock,paper,scissors to see which one of them will be forced to deal with you. Instead of treating them like they’re lazy and worthless and don’t know what they’re doing, try being nice for just once. A little common courtesy goes a long way. When you step up to the counter, maybe a nice smile and a “Good morning!” instead of instant nasty would help.

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