Wisconsin Assembly approves plan to curb unions

By Reuters
Friday, February 25, 2011 8:46 EDT
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MADISON, Wisconsin (Reuters) – The Wisconsin state Assembly on Friday passed a Republican plan to curb public sector union power over the fierce objections of protesters, setting the stage for a showdown with Senate Democrats who fled the state last week to prevent a vote in that chamber.

After two all-night debating sessions and an eleventh hour Democratic bid for a compromise, the Republican-dominated Assembly abruptly ended all debate early Friday morning and approved the bill by a vote of 51 to 17.

The outcome of the vote, which was taken so fast many Democratic lawmakers who were outside the chamber when it was called were unable to participate, was greeted by chants of “it’s not over yet” and “we are here to stay” from more than a thousand protesters who stayed to watch in the capitol rotunda overnight.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, from inside and outside the state, have converged on Madison in recent days to fight the proposal, which they fear could encourage similar measures in other states and cripple the American labor movement.

Passage of the measure was never in doubt. So as the news sunk in among the demonstrators, the initial confusion quickly gave way and they were singing a spirited version of “We Shall Overcome” within minutes.

Assembly Republicans took a private elevator to an exit sealed off from protesters and did not stop for reporters.

After the vote, the Democrats assembled on a balcony overlooking the rotunda that has been home to tens of thousands of demonstrators, waving at the protesters and telling them the measure’s prospects in the state Senate are more uncertain.

The protesters shouted “thank you, thank you” and pumped their fists at the lawmakers, who returned the gestures.

Representative Cory Mason, a Racine Democrat, told the demonstrators he believed the abrupt vote, which occurred while several Democrats waited to be heard on the measure, was “a violation of the rules, possibly a violation of the law.”

“What happened tonight, for those of you who don’t know, was unprecedented,” Mason said. “They’re so desperate to take away workers they will do anything to ram this through.” He predicted the move would “backfire” on the GOP.

Representative Barbara Toles, a Milwaukee Democrat, urged protesters to remain peaceful and promised “the fight isn’t over yet.”


More than 50,000 demonstrators poured into the state capital of Madison over the weekend to protest against the plan. Hundreds continued to protest inside the Capitol on Thursday, turning the building into an indoor campground.

Newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said the measure is critical to restoring Wisconsin’s financial health.

“This is one of the toughest votes this body has taken in decades,” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said in a statement posted on the website WisPolitics.com. “But we are, without question, in one of the toughest economic times our state has ever seen.”

Passage of the measure in the Assembly will not ease the Senate standoff over a plan that has generated widespread protests among Wisconsin teachers and other union members.

Republicans hold a 19-14 Senate majority but need a quorum of 20 to vote on spending bills. All the Democrats left the state for Illinois last Thursday because they feared they could be compelled to attend the Senate if they remained.

Wisconsin Republicans sent police on Thursday on an unsuccessful search for the runaways. State patrol officers were dispatched to the Democrats’ homes on suspicion that some have been sleeping in their own beds at night.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he had hoped the Democrats could be convinced to return, although he acknowledged the officers cannot arrest them.

“It’s a gesture that shows we’re still serious and a call of the house should be honored,” he told WisPolitics.com.

Walker has set a deadline of Friday for approval of the measure to give the state time to refinance bonds and make a payment on state debt that is due by March 15. He says the bill is necessary to close a budget deficit of $137 million for this fiscal year and $3.6 billion in the next two years.


Democratic lawmakers and unionized public employees said the Walker plan is an attempt to bust the unions and choke off funding to organized labor, the largest source of funding to the Democratic Party.

If Republicans prevail in Wisconsin, other states could be inspired to take on powerful public unions. Wisconsin-inspired curbs on union rights have been debated in the legislatures of other states including Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas.

In Indiana, Democrats boycotting the state legislature appeared to score a victory on Wednesday when a “right to work” law that would restrict unions was put aside until next year.

But Republicans proposed a rule change to extend a reading deadline on the bills from this Friday until next Friday, March 4, to keep the bills alive, said John Schorg, media relations director for the Indiana house Democrats.

U.S. state and local governments are struggling to balance budgets after the recession decimated their finances. Other states like Texas, Arizona and Ohio are relying mainly on cuts in spending, while Minnesota and Illinois are raising taxes.

The Wisconsin changes sought by Walker would make state workers contribute more to health insurance and pensions, end government collection of union dues, let workers opt out of unions and require unions to hold recertification votes every year.

Collective bargaining would be allowed only on wage increases up to the rate of inflation.

(Reporting by James Kelleher and Jeff Mayers. Editing by John Whitesides and David Bailey)

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  • Anonymous

    Sad. the only hope is those dems stay out of state. And perhaps Gov. Wanker is arrested.

  • Guest

    PROOF that partisan, party-line politics is destructive to the welfare of the state/country. To vote party line instead of conscience is a DISGRACE and only the ugliest form of scum lowers themselves to this “Team Tactic”.

  • Anonymous

    …….”they escaped out the back door, like a bunch of rat bastards”…..

  • Anonymous

    Wait until the weather gets warmer. The crowds will increase.

  • Anonymous

    I now know what true hatred feels like. These guys are disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    “Democratic lawmakers and unionized public employees said the Walker plan is an attempt to bust the unions and choke off funding to organized labor, the largest source of funding to the Democratic Party.”

    good, maybe organized labor will stop supplicating before the democratic party, dues in hand, and instead use their dues to fund new organizing

  • Anonymous

    Assembly Republicans took a private elevator to an exit sealed off from protesters and did not stop for reporters.

    Too ashamed is the reason for why the Republicans slivered off like snakes in the grass hoping they can’t be seen.

    The reason for the shame is that it’s no secret the move to eliminate bargaining rights was pure political. No other word for it other than political.

    When elected in office you are the Representative of ALL the People. ALL of them not just your registered party members but ALL the People and did the Republicans listen to anyone but their own circle? The answer is NO. Republicans shut the People of Wisconsin out of the poltical process. This shut out is what a dictatorship is. And that is what Walker is.

    As these Wisconsin Republicans goes so goes all the Republicans across the nation. The real agenda for the party is to shut out all Americans from the political process other than pure party members. As Walker said on the phone, “he’s not one of us”. The Republican barrier to government is only pure party members will be in the political process. Does anyone know what time in history this purity rule was carried out? The answer is the Nazis.

    That is why the Republicans had to run off in shame and disrepect. Like cowards, like Ronald Reagan coward, Bush Sr coward, Bush Jr coward. No guts, no balls to Represent ALL the People. All the Republicans can do is cut off their balls and march goosestep style unable to face ALL the People.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone is watching. The republicans slithered away in a private elevator avoiding the press. If they are so righteous why do they hide like snakes? Wisconsin do not let the media set a prophecy by telling you what they believe the out come will be speculating every next move, they don’t you or your resolve. Hang in there Wisconsin.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    “It’s a gesture that shows we’re still serious and a call of the house should be honored,”

    Ah, yes.. when money is so tight you’re talking about laying off 1500 workers, it’s “good sense” to piss away money running around posturing and harassing when there is no legal merit to it.. pissing away money while trying to intimidate.. how fiscally responsible.

    Sure hope in 2012, the entire state realizes the LIE that is the core rot of the Republicans… If ANY right-winger up for election in 2012 gets more than 20% of the vote, this country is toast…

  • Anonymous

    “they don’t KNOW you or your resolve” (shit)

  • Balthazars Rebellion

    The 2010 election brought in the Repubs to fix the betrayal of the Dems. Now who do you trust? After the American people got kicked in the nuts by both Repubs and Dems time and time again…people are still going to vote for these cowards and thieves. STOP allowing yourselves to be played like a fiddle and vote your CONSCIENCE! The alternative is to just get used to this total betrayal by our so called government.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    I don’t think it was shame that made them slither out the back door.. these scumbags have no shame. No, it was self preservation.. they know they are intentionally attacking the middle class, working people, intentionally trying to destroy the last vestiges of power of the public. They know full well they are declaring a kind of war that will ultimately claim lives and they fear that the sheeple will wake up from their TV induced idiocy and put some accountability on the table.

    Once the power companies start being sold off and more people are denied electricity, you’ll see things get even more volatile. This isn’t just about breaking the power of the people, it’s also about taking public assets that tax payers built and handing them over to private profit-mongers for pennies on the dollar.. it’s about looting even more from the public.

    Things are going to get very ugly around here.. that, or the masses will become more disillusioned and slink away with their tails between their legs. … we’ll see how good their memories are in 2012, if nothing else. Though, I’m guessing we’re screwed.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fierylocks FieryLocks

    Republicans are fucking worthless maggot infested piles of shit.

  • Guest

    Spell boast, spell roast, what do you put in a toaster?

    This country was toast about 10 years ago when the neocons and the lapdogs of the ptb took over and enacted kristol’s manifesto. I’m sure it was a plan well into the making, though it was 911 when the filth (who wants to shape the world in their own vision and not the natural flow it should take) in dc got really nasty.

  • Anonymous

    Time for recall or impeachment.

  • Anonymous

    This is the end game of the class war.

    Global plantation and slavery for all is the next and final stop of this bus

  • Anonymous

    “May 1933: Hitler Abolishes Unions”:


    February 2011: Tory Abolishes Unions”:

    Wisconsin Assembly approves plan to curb unions


    Any pattern here?

  • Anonymous

    “Assembly Republicans took a private elevator to an exit sealed off from protesters and did not stop for reporters.”

    Such BRAVERY from those who stand up to terrorists. What a FUCKING bunch of COWARDS! If you SHIT HEADS are willing to screw the people of your state, then at least have the BALLS to stand up for it. You are not only STUPID, VAPID and IDIOTIC, but you are fucking COWARDS, the WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF YOU! It DISGUSTS me to have to say that you asshole COWARDS are Americans.

    WI, this is your opportunity to RID yourselves of this scourge. RECALL the 8 senators that you can, and send every member of your republican led assembly to political HELL. RECALL and IMPEACH ALL OF THEM. These scum are doing their best to HURT you NOT PROTECT you like they SWORE to do in their oaths to your state and it’s people. They have shown that they are NOT on your side at all, that if there is a corporate ass to kiss, then they will get on their knees and pucker up. Is THAT who you want running your state? Do the RIGHT thing and send these scum PACKING.

  • Anonymous

    WHAT FUNDS? This is SURE to take away so much money from the union there wont’ BE any funds to organize a fucking thing. Don’t you see past the first point in an argument? Can you NOT see further down the road, and project what the outcome of an action would be? once this happens, the unions will be nothing more than a club one can join. They will have NO power, no way to fund raise, and no way to influence ANYTHING.

    Goddamn, THINK!

  • Anonymous

    I am so sick of the republican party and their dirty tricks and their un American activities. We should have been smarter with the bush adm when they started warning us about foreign terrorists because the domestic terrorist in this country are organized into the political party, the republicans. They are far more dangerous and they are here. The are involved in anti American activities, They have proven to hate minorities and women. They abhor our constitution and our laws only apply to those who are considered middle or poor class. Because they have no morals, integrity or honor they have no problems lying, stealing or murdering for their cause. They are despicable beings with out empathy or a shred of kindness. They love thy neighbor only if they are rich. The republican party disgusts me. The world would be such a better place with out them.

  • Anonymous

    The Political Economy of Government Employee Unions

  • Anonymous

    This will meet with lawsuits and there will be a recall of the rethuglican senators, the recall of Walker will have to wait till next January. This is gonna be fun to watch!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RT3XX4DFKZ2AD7JHO3D3PZ7G4M ChrisK


  • Johnny Warbucks

    Brilliant move, Mubarak! Way to show your subjects how much their opinion matters. What’s next? Unleash your armed thugs on the protesters like you promised?

    Yallah, yallah, Mubarak!

    Recall this jerk. Slap him with bribery charges and send him Zing Zing to bunk with Big Bad Leroy Brown for the rest of his unnatural life.

    PS: What was that you said about democracy and the power of the people and all that?

  • Taleisin

    There you go again.

    First, it is dictators you don’t like. Now, it’s the people, who act like dictators.
    I bet you don’t like any dictators. You are so prejudiced!
    You’re a ‘Dictatorist’. That’s what you are. Naaah! :)

  • Anonymous

    The new America….Let’s use the current economic crisis (which was caused by Wall Street greed in the first place) to completely finish off the unions in America. The workers become total slaves with no rights whatsoever, and at the same time the rich get richer…

    Pretty neat, right?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I hope you don’t expose my agenda of world domination. ~insert evil laugh~

    See, I’ve been studying dick taters for a while now and they all do the same: adopt a rhetoric to get them into power (i.e. Cuba = anti-imperialism, US = democracy, Zionism = homeland for the jews). So, I figure all those are so 19 and 20th Centuries, I need a new one. Voila! How about anti dick taters. Yep! Once they put me in power of the world, I’ll declare that I am not what I am, do to my subjects what I say I am not doing and pick me an enemy on whose trails I can sail by scaring the people into submission and adoration of me. Me, me, me…

    How’s that for a plan? You like it?

  • Taleisin

    It seems strangely familiar. What is the new form of government?
    Now we is scratching our heads. I don’t know how we can avoid the centralization of power that causes all the problems. And the problems are as old as civilization.

  • http://twitter.com/Bootstrapbettys Bootstrap Betty

    “The outcome of the vote, which was taken so fast many Democratic lawmakers who were outside the chamber when it was called were unable to participate, was greeted by chants of “it’s not over yet” and “we are here to stay” from more than a thousand protesters who stayed to watch in the capitol rotunda overnight.”

    I call bullcrap. How could they not just go in and vote? This was devised by both parties apparently.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    This mises crap gets old. You are a bunch of True Believers, throwing your mises talking points in place of any real thought. mises, ayn rand and all of the libertaricon crap is Pure True Belief and you are completely unfazed even when everything in the real world proves it wrong.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    You obviously did not read the transcript of the call “commander in chief” walker had with the reporter playing as david koch, the guy pulling on your puppet strings. In it “commander in chief” walker talked about rushing votes while the democrats were out of the room. You republicons are all corrupt thieves.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Be patient, my friend. This is a work in progress. Seems like all the good names are already taken (I know, I checked at the local trademark office): Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy, Communism. What can we name it? Has to be something catchy but not too dictatorial…hmmm….

    Well, I rather contend that the problem is the beast known as man. We seem to be genetically disposed to fall into these patterns and no matter what we don’t we can’t shake ‘em. We always keep coming back to the familiar full circle. Time after time. Perhaps, I should watch a few episodes of Star Trek and see if they have the solution. Seems like the wisest thing to do since these days, life is imitating art.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    dick taters dipped in smegma? .. on toast! .. bet that gets Rush all drooly and stuff.

  • Guest


    OK… spell ilk, now silk. What do cows drink.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody


    I’m not your average sheeple (and I’ve seen all these ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Muriel-Crabcock/100003480064195 Muriel Crabcock

    I hope they do!

  • Guest

    I know Joe. Never thought you were.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Only if you add some hallucinogens to his Nescafe.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TX3MXXPF52BXCKGNLDNPADILPQ paul rogers

    “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”

    – Rahm Emanuel

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FSCJV6UP23RHG6O2CMTPNCG37M Keith Blown

    While Madison is full of protesters, it would be a good time to pass around the recall petitions huh??

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/42THFKXIPMJHQBIH6OPI4RVIDY Thebes

    If Egypt can revolt, so can Wisconsin.

  • Anonymous

    When the hell is the U.S.Attorney Generals Office going to get involved?There is more than enough evidence to file charges against that spineless governor,and his billionaire sidekicks.This is a disgusting,despicable assault on human dignity.Before the election I heard the repulsive republicans complaining about the lack of civility.Civility my ass,it’s time to go uncivil on these corrupt weasles.I will never,EVER,be civil to any republican at all.My children,and grandchildren have been told that if they EVER vote for a republican in any capacity,they will never set foot in my house again!!Believe me I mean every word of it!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5XKDORJ6HIVIZ6V5OTK76KTEY Immortal

    Koch brothers, Fitzgerald brothers, wonder if Walker is related to Herbert Walker Bush?

  • Taleisin

    What? Star Trek IS the problem. New generation has restarted on our TV here. It is soooo bad. The original is more watchable. The American 1950s ideals that are presented through Kirk’s soul searching, I see as major problems in the US culture today. Evil is inherent and must die. It’s ether black or white. That sort of thing.

    I liked Marx’s ideas but Stalin put the kibosh on that. Maybe we should build a big computer to tell us what to do. Create our own god. We have the technology.

    I think we are evolving but in a spiral form rather than linear. We have been here before. All the old scriptures say so, and not just the silly one the Xians read. We are still slaves to our monkey genes. Perhaps if we grow beyond them, we will reach the end of our evolutionary capacity and disappear.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    If you ever want to see stupidity and evil in their purest forms, go to Yahoo, click on an article on the Middle East or Obama and read the comments. Reading that you’ll realize why there’s no hope for the Amerikuns. This race was damned the day they set foot on this continent. It’s a miracle they haven’t blown themselves up yet.

    There were plenty of Star Treks with the theme of a computer running the show, whether it was as a god, a leader or whatever. I keep saying that we’re de-evolving. A step backwards every day. Won’t be long now before we’re back on the trees. Provided there are any left that is.

  • Taleisin


    Good. I have your attention. The orgasm.
    It is a little thing that Nature put into the genetic code really early on, to guarantee the perpetuation of species. Life is good at finding things that increase it’s chance of survival. We species, who are plentiful on the planet, exist in such large numbers because ‘Sex Is Great’. We love rootin’. It’s fun and it’s healthy. I recommend it.

    Taoist medicine says, any man who doesn’t want to have sex at least once a day,
    has something wrong with him. That was before television.

    Now, all those ‘survival genes’ scratching and clawing their way to domination, have run out of planet to consume. Maybe, this is as evolved as we can get.
    Maybe it is time to step aside for the next species to evolve, one we haven’t wiped out yet. I think the dolphins got it right. We should have never come back out of the water. But we loved fruit. Never mind.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Mate, if you’re gonna blame, blame the G Spot. Credit where credit is due. :)

  • Taleisin

    Well said. If it wasn’t for the G-spot, I might not be a father. lol