Wis. GOP Bypass Dems On Collective Bargaining

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats and approve an explosive proposal that has rocked the state and unions nationwide.

“You are cowards!” spectators in the Senate gallery screamed as lawmakers voted. Within hours, a crowd of a few hundred protesters had grown to several thousand.

“The whole world is watching!” they shouted as they pressed up against the heavily guarded entrance to the Senate chamber.

All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair bill” — a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday took all the spending measures out of the legislation and a special committee of lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly approved the revised bill a short time later.

The unexpected yet surprisingly simple procedural move ended a stalemate that had threatened to drag on indefinitely. Until Wednesday’s stunning vote, it appeared the standoff would persist until Democrats returned to Madison from their self-imposed exile.

“In 30 minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller. “Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”

The state Assembly previously approved the entire proposal and was set to consider the new measure on Thursday. Miller said in an interview with The Associated Press there is nothing Democrats can do now to stop the bill: “It’s a done deal.”

The lone Democrat present on the special committee, Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, shouted that the meeting was a violation of the state’s open meetings law.

Republicans voted over his objections, and the Senate convened within minutes and passed the measure 18-1 without discussion or debate. Republican Sen. Dale Schultz cast the lone no vote.

“The gig is now up,” Barca said. “The fraud on the people of Wisconsin is now clear.”

Walker had repeatedly argued that collective bargaining was a budget issue, because his proposed changes would give local governments the flexibility to confront budget cuts needed to close the state’s $3.6 billion deficit. He has said that without the changes, he may have needed to lay off 1,500 state workers and make other cuts to balance the budget.

Walker said Wednesday night that Democrats had three weeks to debate the bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come back, but refused.

“I applaud the Legislature’s action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government,” Walker said in the statement.

The measure approved Wednesday forbids most government workers from collectively bargaining for wage increases beyond the rate of inflation. It also requires public workers to pay more toward their pensions and double their health insurance contribution, a combination equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut for the average worker.

Police and firefighters are exempt.

Walker’s proposal touched off a national debate over union rights for public employees and prompted tens of thousands of demonstrators to converge on Wisconsin’s capital city for weeks of protests.

Wednesday’s drama unfolded less than four hours after Walker met with GOP senators in a closed-door meeting. He emerged from the meeting saying senators were “firm” in their support of the bill.

For weeks, Democrats had offered concessions on issues other than the bargaining rights and they spent much of Wednesday again calling on Walker and Republicans to compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said earlier that Republicans had been discussing concessions offered by Walker, including allowing public workers to bargain over their salaries without a wage limit. Several GOP senators facing recall efforts had also publicly called for a compromise.

“The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job,” Fitzgerald said in a statement after the vote. “Just because the Senate Democrats won’t do theirs, doesn’t mean we won’t do ours.”

Union leaders weren’t happy with Walker’s offer, and were furious at the Senate’s move to push the measure forward with a quick vote. Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO, said after Wednesday’s vote that Republicans exercised a “nuclear option.”

“Scott Walker and the Republicans’ ideological war on the middle class and working families is now indisputable,” Neuenfeldt said.

While talks had been going on sporadically behind the scenes, Republicans in the Senate also had publicly tried to ratchet up pressure on Democrats to return. They had agreed earlier Wednesday to start fining Democrats $100 for each day legislative session day they miss.

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

  • Ann

    Race back in time. Greedy corporations will gobble the human spirit alive to make a buck.

    • Victim Du Jour

      What have corporation done that is so awful in the History of Minnesota?

      Compare it to railworkers lynching black people in Duluth during the 20’s.

      • Trace

        Compare what they did to the American Indians in Minnesota!

      • Victim Du Jour

        What did corporations do to native Americans? Sell them some post-it’s?

        The Canadian And Mexican Government stole land from Indians just like the State of Minnesota.

      • irine


      • Victim Du Jour

        Public Schools purposely ignore history, because it might make Unions look bad too.

        Did you know the KKK rallied for public education in the state of Minnesota?

    • Matt

      Congratulations to Governor Walker for finally taking a stance against the public sector unions. You look at how horribly bias the media is against this issue and how taking away the privilege of collective bargaining is being compared to the right to vote and you have to commend them for standing tough.

      Here are a couple of quick facts to remember before condemning Governor Walker.

      1. Public sector collective bargaining wasn’t even considered legal until 1959, in fact it was struck down in NY Supreme Court in 1943 because of the standard it was ruled unconstitutional that the union be allowed on both sides of the bargaining table.

      2. Even FDR one of the most liberal Presidents of all time said that public sector unions were a direct conflict of interest. “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,”

      3. The benefits that were collectively bargained by the Wisconsin unions with the Democratic governor that they got elected were far and above the benefits received in the private sector.

      This issue was more about the power of the union and not the benefits it gets the employees.

      • M B

        You’re right. It is about the power of the unions.

        It’s already been said TIME AND TIME AGAIN that these people AGREED to Walker’s demands, yet he continued on to castrate the unions anyways. That, is called a vendetta. It is also called a power grab. You can’t rationalize out of that.

        Without the unions you so revile, MOST of the rights and benefits you have today in your workplace WOULD NOT EXIST. PERIOD. Those unions did the lobbying to get the laws passed that protected the American Worker. INCLUDING YOU. Take your vacation days away, take away your holidays. Take away your Saturdays off, take away your minimum wage, take away your 40 hour work week. That’s what will happen once the Unions go away. I may not like them much, but they DO serve a purpose. Work like that for a decade THEN come and talk to me about how WONDERFUL your exhalted Republican party is. Of course, you probably are one of the people behind the whip, not in front of it, and based on what you said you wouldn’t care about a thing like worker’s rights anyways.

        You talk about bias. I strongly encourage to actually study history, objectively, not just the kool-aid that the Republican party loves feeding people.

        I honestly hope the Republican party is recalled or voted out. I feel bad for those that are misled by their hyperbole and lies into voting for them. It’s disgusting.

      • Matt

        Actually I can easily rationalize why the unions needed to have collective bargaining rights removed. At some point a democrat will be in charge of WI again and when that happens any concessions made by the unions today will just be put back in place. You call it cutting the power of the unions; I call it removing the burden of bailing out the union in future generations.

        I do agree that unions have had their place in America, but that is LONG since past and I don’t for a second attribute work laws in the US to the unions, that was set by the market, the unions may have participated, but ultimately the market rules the day.

        As far as my socioeconomic status, I’m far from the top or the bottom I guess you could call me middle class, but I know this. I am more than happy to go out and prove my worth and I don’t need a union to represent me. If I’m not being given fair wages and benefits I’ll go someplace else with my services and if no one will give them to me I’ll start my own business. See the economy isn’t that hard to figure out, you just need to be willing to go out and earn it.

      • Paul

        The Market gave labor rights? When? Only through legislation and strikes was progress made. Little kids as young as ten were working in coal mines in the 1700-1800s in Britain until the GOVERNMENT stepped in and said that’s a bit inhumane. Sixteen-hour work days were not uncommon until the Factory Acts were past to reduce work to a twelve-hour day. The MARKET did not give them a break. By definition, pure capitalism does not want to give anyone a break–workers or consumers. A capitalist’s goal is drive out all competition and maximize profits. We’ve known for 100+ years that some restrictions on capitalism must be in place–that’s why we have anti-trust law. Capitalism is great. Unrestricted capitalism is about as close to hell as I’d ever want to be.

  • Get back to work

    I think its time for the 14 to come back and do the job that they were elected to do!


      There’s no work for them to do. Republicans can do whatever they want whenever they want.

      • bryan

        Maybe if the would have done their job in the first place……..Would it not be nice to just run away every time something is not going to go your way in an effort to just make it go away!

      • Where is Waldo

        Where have you been with the 14 dems, they had weeks to debat this!

      • urune

        true, now there is no need.and this is very good

    • Nancy

      their job, which is to protect the working people of America, you need to worry now that they have passed this, your job, if you have one, will be able to do as they please and tell you to suck it up, you are stupid to think otherwise

      • urune

        i wish you have brain and might understand the situation, when we pay for all union perks, but unfortunately it is not the case

    • Mark

      @Where is Waldo : That’s the whole reason they left- there was a refusal by Walker to debate. He wouldn’t listen. So they stood up for us, and I’m proud of them for what they did. They said “let’s have an honest debate about this” and Walker essentially covered his ears and went “Nya nya”,

  • Effie

    Good for Gov Walker and the Republicans, shame on the Dems for leaving the State.

    • shirley

      Effie, the governor left the table before the democrats did by not giving them the right to sit down and negotiate this. But wait, this is just the beginning of the republicans taking everything away from the middle class, after all they have to give the wealthy their tax breaks.cause the wealthy bring in jobs, you know the ones the wealthy sent over seas.

      • Mark

        Thanks, Shirley. Everybody keeps talking about the walk-out as if it was running away. It wasn’t running away -it was a protest. Civil disobedience.

  • gloria

    It makes me wonder what kind of kool-aid people are drinking to side with the Republicans.

    • urune

      the smart one, they are not from your family

      • gloria

        Urune, I hope you don’t count yourself among the smart folks. Your sentence structure sucks.

    • Jen K.

      We are drinking the “spend less” kool-aid. This great Country of ours is on the brink of a complete economic meltdown, drastic measures need to be taken. I have many friends and family members that are teachers and belong to unions and votes like this obviously affect them and my stance makes me quite unpopular among them. I understand that unions had a great impact during our history, however they are not very relevent in today’s society. As many have posted before, why is a worker “owed” a pay increase or even job security because of tenure? My opinion is that they shouldn’t be and the bottom line is that people should be compensated based on measurable performance, which is not the case when you involve unions.

  • Ignorance must be bliss

    Shame for what? Why is it that Repubs cry when Dems are in office that they are not getting heard and now that the same tactics that they have used are being used against them they cry again. Grow up, you all seem to have very short memories. I would love to go into more detail but I am sick and tired of taking the time to post reference points and facts just to have someone say “that didn’t happen”, or “you are making that up”. I don’t care what political party you are from, if you post comments on a site like this you should at least know what the Dems dud her is in WI constitution and they are not breaking any laws, and are doing the job they were elected to do. The people that voted for them DO want them to hold this back. In fact if you look at the polls that were taken 61% of WI wants this held back or at least changed. Look at the facts and then cry at your own ignorance.
    Please get a new war chant too, as the “they should be ashamed” or “they should do their job” has been said 10000000000000 times and you really need to get over it or say something productive as this is sounding like the worst broken record I have heard in a long time.

    • Dan

      Because when the Dems have control, the Repubs whine… Then a few years later, the Repubs have control, the Dems whine… Then a few years later when the Dems have control, the Repubs whine… Then a few years later, the Repubs have control, the Dems whine… Then a few years later when the Dems have control, the Repubs whine… It’s called politics…

    • PK

      I like what you said. Pretty soon there will be cries from all parties about the hardships we will be facing. Everyone should review that famous scene from “Network” and scream out their windows ,”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” It is deplorable that the Republicans went against what the majority of their state want. The unions agreed to pay cuts but just wanted to keep their collective bargaining. Walker is a Koch cronie. The 14 Dems ARE working..just in a different location. It is typical of Repubs to automatically call everyone lazy. and “not doing their job”. If it doesn’t benefit them, than they aren’t doing their job! Kudos to the WI 14 and to the Wisconsinites that have and will continue to fight for the middle class? Do you not see that the privilegded are destroying the middle class? “I’m Mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!!!”

  • Scott Walker Rocks! So get over it!

    I wish we could trade govs!

    • mark from mntaxwaste.com

      well said

      • How About Them Apples

        Are you referring to Governor, Dictator, Walker?
        Democracy is dead in Wisconsin. Just wait until the shoe is on the other foot.

        Now for those overpaid Packers.

    • PSS

      no one whould be stupided enougH to trade for him than again maybe ……………………..NOPE JUST CAN’T FIND ANY ONE THAT STUPID ………..SORRY!!!!!!! THAN AGAIN YOU COULD TRADE HIM TO CHINA FOR A NEW PAIR OF NIKE’S

    • dphilips

      Yep Thae would do it trade governors we are just beginning to see
      the fallout in Minnesota from 8 yrs of Pawlenty!

  • Jeff Rogers

    They did their job. If they hadn’t left the state, this would have been a blip on the late night news. Their leaving and dragging this is out is was the catalyst for the huge outcry and the national media weighing in. Sitting in the Senate while the Republicans rolled over them would have done nothing. Why do you think quorum laws exist? Finding some loophole to so an end run around them is cowardly if not illegal. At the least it gives them the basis to get the law into court. And it’s funny that it happened just after the Governor announced he was willing to negotiate. I hope the 60+ percent of people whose voices were ignored vote in block next election.

  • jilrubia

    Nice fake apologetic smirks. “Sorry, but there was NOTHING else we could do.” THAT attitude IS shameful. I’m undone.

  • jim from WBL

    Republican motto “Win if you can, Lose if you must, but always cheat”

    • SW MN guy

      George Bush must be behind all this!

    • Matt

      I love the amount of hypocritical democrats, when the GOP finds a loophole it’s illegal, when the DFL finds a loophole they are saints.

      • Jen

        Agreed 1000 times over! I am so tired of hypocritical rhetoric out there. It’s like Jim from WBL’s comment- “win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat”… and saying that is a GOP motto. Pathetic.

  • fairbalanced

    finally politicians that do their job

  • gloria

    People who side with the Republicans are the morons who vote against their own self interests. Unfortunately, they won’t realize it until it’s too late. What suckers!

    • Jen K.

      @ Gloria- I assure you that I know what I vote for. I also assure you that I am not a moron nor a sucker. The beauty of living in the United States is that we are all welcome to our own opinions. It is my opinion that people who resort to name calling are not only disrespectful but are often times uneducated. This is why I tend to stay away from calling people with opposing belief systems things like suckers and morons.

  • RememberThisIn12

    This isn’t a typical push-it-through, folks. They bypassed state law – there has to be 24hr conference committee notice. All they’ve done is just proven that this was never about the money, it was about starting the domino of union-busting. Unions may not be effective and they’re far from perfect, but they’re the last bastion of middle-class support that’s out there now.
    For the apologist above who claims this is tit-for-tat with what dems have done in past – site actual cases where state laws were ignored to get rights taken away by dems. You can’t, so you pre-empt any debate on it. Nice try.

  • Pavel

    He (Walker) is a crook. He should be recalled…., but I don’t know that they need a dog catcher in Wisconsin.

  • Walker is the MAN!!!!!

    They had three weeks to come back to Wisconsin and do there job, With the Dems out of State there is still work to be done and they did it without the Dems, How can there be a debate if the dems refuse to come back to work! Just grab a tissue wipe your tears away!

    • URUNE


  • stefan

    Blah Blah!!!! Dems run away like little B…ches . I’m switching Party.

    • Deb


  • Smithy

    I just laugh at all the fools who think what college flunkie walker did is good for them.

    There will be no jobs created in Wi, only property tax increases and huge profits for CEO’s and executives. Just watch.

    You people are such silly fools. Won’t be able to blame it on the dems….

    2012 will be a shoe-in for the democrats and Obama.

    • Jason

      Dont be so sure buddy.

  • Helper


    How correct you are. You must be pretty dumb to be republican nowadays!

  • Walker is the MAN!!!!!

    Helper Walmart has a sale on tissues.

    • PSS

      walker is a DISCRACE To the STATE OF WISCONSIN ………………..ALL REBUBLICANS YOU CAN AND WILL BE SUBJECT TO RECALL AND YOU WILL LOSE BIG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Jason

        Guess what, Repubs didnt vote themselves into office. I wouldnt be upset if your recalls dont happen.

  • Jim

    Middle class used to mean your house was paid for, you had a job with benefits, and you had enough money on the bank to live for a year.

    I laugh at the ‘ blue collar ‘ republicans who can barely make their house payments and blame everything on democrats.

    Your fools!

    • Jen

      Hmmm, this is interesting. I am far from blue collar and a Republican.

      As Charles Barkley has said, “poor people have been voting for Democrats for 50 years and they are still poor”.

      Also, it should be “you’re”.

      Hmmmm I neither poor or uneducated.

  • Murph

    Then their carreers as thugs will be over next year! Good! Recall the nasty little GOP brats!

  • Helper

    Sorry wo-man

    I don’t shop walmart. Leave that for people who live in the trailer park.

  • Incredulous1

    There she goes, floating down the big river on her western border. Say hello to Wississippi!

    Glad to see the Gov’s still wearing his flag lapel pin! You ‘da man!

  • Goob

    Walker gets his way…now pay attention to the lay-offs that will come anyway…he is soooo evil!!!

  • 14 AWOL Snoozed & Lost

    When you abandon your post you lose the right to complain about what happened in your absence.

    • PSS


      • urune

        i thins it should be law forbidding complete idiot like you to express the opinion.

      • PSS

        well at least I can say I DIDN’T VOTE FOR YOUR IDIOT GOV AND HIS GOON SQUAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IMPEACH WALKER

    • Mark

      It was a protest. They never abandoned their post. If they were lazy and selfish, they would have come home as soon as the $100/day fine was placed on them.

  • Big T


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