Wis. State Senate cuts collective bargaining

March 10, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A bill to strip most collective bargaining rights from public workers passed the State Senate.

With Senate Democrats hiding out in Illinois, Republicans used a procedural move to pass the bill.

This move in Wisconsin could mean an uphill battle in other states.

Public employees are protesting in full force and Democrats are vowing to fight back.

It took just a few minutes in Wisconsin to pass the bill eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who claims the bill is needed to close a budget deficit, issued this statement:

"The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused. In order to move the state forward, 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. The action today will help ensure Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs."

The Senate Democrats who have been in a self-imposed exile in Illinois are vowing Thursday morning to continue their fight.

"Well, the recourse is, one, is to go to court and to fight this out in a court system, but we also have a number of recalls going on in the state of Wisconsin that I believe will potentially have the impact of flipping the State Senate back into democratic hands," said State Sen. Julie Lasssa. "People have had an opportunity for this bill to slow down long enough for individuals to see that our governor is not honest," said State Sen. Lena Taylor.

Democrats and union activists are rejecting Walker's argument that the state's finances were the reason for the bill.

"This is political division. This is dividing people and creating scapegoats. And it needs to end in Madison, it needs to end in Wisconsin and it needs to end in this country!" said school teacher Brian Frederick.

Polls show that most Wisconsin residents do not back this measure. Still, other Republican states may soon follow.

There is word that lawmakers in Ohio and Indiana are working on similar legislation, which would strip unions of their power.

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