Friday, February 25, 2011

Democrats Go Down To Defeat In Wisconsin Assembly

Republicans cram budget repair bill down Democratic throats after 60 hours of debate, rambling speeches and hundreds of amendments failed in 3- day session

Madison – Shouting “Shame!” and “Cowards” at Republican Assembly members who marched out of the chamber after a lightning-quick vote, Democrats who defended collective bargaining had to accept defeat.

Three days of steady obstructionist tactics came to an end swiftly at 1 a.m. today when Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around at each other in confusion, bewildered that on 13 of their 38-member delegation managed to vote in time, as Republicans stalked out of the state house in silence.

Hundreds of thousands of public employees have camped out in the rotunda of the building and on the state capitol grounds now for a week, protesting the bill, which would bring an end to collective bargaining and “closed shop” status in this prairie populist state. If Senators happen to pass the legislation, Wisconsin will join the ranks of states known as “right to work” entities, where union membership is not automatically assured workers if they are lucky enough to be hired in a shop where there is union representation.

Those who do not choose to join are not forced to join organized labor unions and made to pay dues. Workers who desire such representation must first win an election among all hourly paid employees, then allow union representatives to organize their ranks according to U.S. Labor Department regulations.

Though school teachers, firefighters and police officers have volunteered to compromise with an 8% across the board pay cut, Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans have refused. They want to completely dismantle the system as it exists in order to save some $138 million in budget deficit looming in the coming year.

The bill cannot be passed by the Senate until that chamber reaches a quorum. Some 15 Democratic Senators are hiding across the state line in Illinois. Gov. Walker sent state troopers to their Wisconsin homes to see if he could arrest as little as one member and force him to come to the Capitol to vote. None of the members have been located.
A little-known feature of the budget repair bill would allow the state government to sell outdated and "dirty" coal-fired heating and electrical generation plants located at penitentiaries, universities and hospitals to private industrialists such as David Koch on a no-bid basis. Mr. Koch recently donate more than $1 million to Republican candidates for office in the mid-term elections and personally bankrolls the Tea Party and Americans for Progress.

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