Wisconsin Republicans ram through union busting bill

Rachel Maddow, and a lot of other folks, were pronouncing last night that the Democrats in Wisconsin, after almost two weeks of protesting, had essentially won. Despite Governor Scott Walker’s insistence that he would not negotiate with Democrats on collective bargaining rights, it looked as though he was showing signs of breaking under the pressure of the unions, and starting to consider concessions. But, things took yet another turn this evening, when the Senate Republicans of Wisconsin announced that they’d found a way to strip the collective bargaining measure from the budget bill, and, thereby, get around the need for a quorum. (As you’ll recall, the 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate had left the state two weeks ago in order to stop the budget bill from coming to a vote.) So, this evening, the Republicans extracted the union busting component from the budget bill, and voted on it individually, without a quorum, or, for that matter, a single Democrat in the chamber. As you could probably guess, it passed resoundingly. The Madison teachers union have released a statement saying the Wisconsin Senate’s “improper and illegal action will be challenged in court.” The following clip comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Senate – without Democrats present – abruptly voted Wednesday to eliminate almost all collective bargaining for most public workers.

The bill, which has sparked unprecedented protests and drawn international attention, now heads to the Assembly, which is to take it up at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Assembly, which like the Senate is controlled by Republicans, passed an almost identical version of the bill Feb. 25.

The new version passed the Senate 18-1 Wednesday night, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) casting the no vote. There was no debate

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said Democrats who have been boycotting the Senate for three weeks would return to Wisconsin once the bill passes the Assembly, although he declined to be more specific.

From Feb. 17 until Wednesday, the Senate Democrats were able to block a vote on the bill because 20 senators were required to be present to vote for it. Republicans control the house 19-14.

Late Wednesday, a committee stripped fiscal elements from the bill that they said allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present. The most controversial parts of the bill remain intact.

That committee, formed just hours earlier, quickly approved the bill as the lone Democrat at the meeting screamed that Republicans were violating the state’s open meetings law.

The law requires most public bodies to give 24 hours notice before they meet. The conference committee met with about two hours notice.

“This is a violation of law! It’s not a rule!” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) bellowed…

And here’s footage shot outside the Senate chamber, just after the vote took place.

And this, my friends, is what it looks like when your country is hijacked… This was never about balancing the budget of Wisconsin. This, from the very start, wasn’t about getting concessions from the unions. This was about breaking the unions. And, now, assuming the judicial branch doesn’t get involved, it looks as though it’s been accomplished.

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  1. Posted March 10, 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Only one of the 19 Republicans voted against it. The one was Dale Schultz of the 17th Senate District.

  2. Posted March 10, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering what the odds are of a general strike in Wisconsin.

  3. Atlanta
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Walker waited 3 weeks for those asses to come back. It’s about time they moved forward. It’s looks like the Wis GOP tooka step out of nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reed’s book. Reconciliation anyone? You should switch on MSNBC for the crying about stripping away 50 years of civil rights in 18 minutes.

  4. Edward
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I love that they tried to tell people that this wasn’t about breaking the unions, when that’s clearly what they were after the whole time. The unions accepted the concessions that were asked of them. They said they’d take pay cuts and contribute more toward their health care costs, but that wasn’t what this was about. It never was. There’s no other way to interpret things given the events of last night. It’s disgusting. And it’s got to be illegal. You can’t bring things to a vote in less than half an hour while close to half of your Senators are out of state.

    Here, for all of you reading this on computers, is something interesting to think about this morning.


  5. Mr. X
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    There’s some amazing footage of the Republicans ramming it through in violation of the Open Meetings Act.


  6. Kim
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Rachel Maddow on yesterday’s events.


  7. TaterSalad
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    A National “Right-to-Work Bill” is being introduced in Congress that will cover ALL 50 states and protectorates. This is going to make Unions voluntary and paying dues voluntary, the way it should be. Not forced upon somebody who wants to make a living for himself and his family.


    We need to now contact all of our Senators and tell them to support this legislation!

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