February 2011, Week 3


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Sun, 20 Feb 2011 23:09:08 -0500
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Wisconsin Budget Standoff And Protests Continue 

Gov. Scott Walker accuses Democrats of 'hiding out' in
Illinois, and a Republican lawmaker threatens to
convene without them.


Associated Press

February 21, 2011

Madison, Wis. —

— Wisconsin Republicans on Sunday increased the
pressure on Democrats to return home and vote on an
anti-union bill, with the governor calling them
obstructionists and a GOP lawmaker threatening to
convene without them.

Gov. Scott Walker said the 14 minority Democrats who
fled to Illinois on Thursday were failing to do their
jobs by "hiding out" in another state. And state Senate
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said his chamber would
meet Tuesday to act on non-spending bills and confirm
some of the governor's appointees even if the Democrats
don't show up — a scenario that could outrage their

Senate Democrats acknowledged that the 19 Republicans
could pass any item that doesn't spend state money in
their absence. The budget bill they have been blocking
requires a quorum of 20 senators to pass, while other
measures require only a simple majority of the
chamber's 33 members.

Nonetheless, Democrats said they were standing firm in
their opposition to the budget bill, which would take
away the right of most public employees to collectively
bargain for their benefits and working conditions.
Hundreds of protesters filled the Capitol for a sixth
straight day, noisily calling on Walker to drop the
plan they consider an assault on workers' rights.

Mary Bell, the president of Wisconsin's powerful
teachers' union, called on teachers to return to work
as scheduled Monday rather than continue their
protests, which have shut down public schools across
the state. But the Madison district said it would still
cancel Monday's classes.

Bell said unions agreed to cuts in healthcare and
retirement benefits that could reduce take-home pay for
many workers by about 8%, and it was time for the
Republican governor to compromise.

But in a Sunday morning interview from Madison with Fox
News, Walker said he did not believe that union leaders
were interested in giving up their benefits and that
cities, school districts and counties would need
weakened unions to cut spending for years to come.
Walker said he would not compromise and predicted
Wisconsin would pave the way for other states, much as
it did with welfare changes and school vouchers in the

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