Dem lawmakers flee Wisconsin to block anti-union bill

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Registered: 04-07-2002
Dem lawmakers flee Wisconsin to block anti-union bill
8
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 3:48pm

Originally published February 17, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Page modified February 17, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Dem lawmakers flee Wisconsin to block anti-union bill

Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end more than 50 years of collective bargaining for most public workers, Wisconsin Democrats on Thursday retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.

By SCOTT BAUER

The Associated Press

Thousands jammed into the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Thursday to protest Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill.

Enlarge this photo

TOM LYNN / MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

Thousands jammed into the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Thursday to protest Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill.

Protesters pack the rotunda at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Thursday. The disappearance of Democratic lawmakers drew cheers.

Enlarge this photo

ANDY MANIS / AP

Protesters pack the rotunda at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Thursday. The disappearance of Democratic lawmakers drew cheers.

MADISON, Wis. — Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end more than 50 years of collective bargaining for most public workers, Wisconsin Democrats on Thursday retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.

Fourteen Democratic lawmakers disappeared from the Capitol on Thursday, just as the Senate was about to begin debating the measure aimed at easing the state's budget crunch.

By refusing to show up for a vote, the group brought the debate to a halt and hoped to pressure Republicans to the negotiating table.

"The plan is to try and slow this down because it's an extreme piece of legislation that's tearing this state apart," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, one of the missing Democrats.

The move drew cheers from tens of thousands of protesters — teachers, prison guards and others targeted by the proposal — who have filled the Statehouse in the past three days.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who took office last month, has made the bill a top priority. He urged the group to return and called the boycott a "stunt."

"It's more about theatrics than anything else," Walker said, predicting the group would come back in a day or two.

Walker said Democrats could offer amendments to change the bill, but he vowed not to concede on his plan to end most collective-bargaining rights.

With 19 seats, Republicans hold a majority in the 33-member Senate, but they are one vote short of the number necessary to conduct business. So Republicans need at least one Democrat to be present before any voting can take place. Once the measure is brought to the floor, it needs 17 votes to pass.

Other lawmakers who fled sent messages over Twitter and issued written statements but did not disclose their location until hours later.

Erpenbach said the group had been in Rockford, Ill., but members dispersed by late afternoon.

The reason for the disappearance was simple: Democrats vigorously oppose the bill, which would weaken unions by limiting collective bargaining for state employees and many local employees, including teachers, to base wages.

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 nwtreehugger  

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001

Those law makers should be arrested. They have jobs to do, they are on tax payers dollars right now to hide out and refuse to do their jobs. Their pay should be cut off and in their absence, they should be replaced.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2010
I don't blame the Democratic members of the legislature for not showing up. The government of Wisconsin is playing political games, claiming their is a budget deficit when in fact the "deficit" they have was created by him. If the spending that he and the Republicans just voted in was stopped, there wouldn't be a deficit. This was done for the sole purpose of trying to get rid of unions. It's about time teachers stood up to the political bullies and said "enough."
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2007

Proud of my state!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
While I believe that unions have put themselves in precarious positions in the past, IMHO, they are necessary to protect the working class. From what I understand, the unions in question had already agreed to various cuts & the GOP just aren't willing to compromise.

As for the Dems walking out - if I'D voted for them, I would be supporting their actions in this case.

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Well said & TY for giving a Wisconsin perspective! ITA - renegotiating a new contract is one thing...but taking away the ability to negotiate at all? No way. As for the GOP taking it out on education...didn't you know that 'public education' is 'too liberal'? ;)

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
And if the unions supported the GOP, then this would never be an issue.

 nwtreehugger  

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Registered: 11-04-2010

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
ITA!

 nwtreehugger