A group of Wisconsin lawmakers blocked passage of a sweeping anti-union bill Thursday by ignoring orders to attend a vote and instead left the state to force Republicans to negotiate over the proposal.
A protest of a cost cutting bill in Wisconsin developed this week with picket signs displaying “Firefighters for Labor” … “Mubarak of the Midwest” … “Midwest Mussolini” (referring to Governor Scott Walker) … “Firefighters for Workers Rights” … “Union Yes” … “Scott Walker = Adolf Hitler” … “Why Do Republicans Hate People” … “One Dictator Down, One Dictator to Go … Walker is a Dictator” … “Political death to tyrants” … “Stop the Imperial Walker” … crosshairs over the Governors photograph with a caption that read, “Just reload.”
The bill that is proposed in the 100th Session of the Wisconsin State Assembly eliminates collective bargaining, asks workers to pay one-half of their pensions, and pay a portion of their health care.
Speaking about the issue Thursday in a television interview, President Barack Obama said that while he understands state governments’ need to make cuts, the Wisconsin proposal seems like “an assault on unions.”
“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions.”
— Barack Obama
Scheduled debate on the proposal was scrapped because Democrats fled the state meeting in protest. A quorum of 20 senators was needed. There were 19 Republicans that showed up. The state House of Representatives also has a Republican majority.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a statement Thursday calling Democratic legislators “disrespectful” and called on them to return to work.
Wisconsin pioneered collective bargaining for state workers in the 1960s.
Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, Jr. (R) defended the bill claiming that the benefits for public employees are far greater than benefits for employees in the public sector.
Democrat pundits such as MSNBC’s Ed Schultz call the bill a war on the middle class.
Senate Bill 11 Details