Fourteen Democratic Wisconsin Senators secretly fled from the state, blocking the vote on Republican Governor Scott Walker’s extreme anti-union bill in a strategy to make the Governor negotiate with them. Due to the senators’ absence, the state Senate lacked the 60 percent attendance rate required for the vote to occur.
Walker’s bill proposes to reduce state workers’ salaries and take away the right of unions to collectively bargain for benefits, hours, and working conditions. The bill would cut public workers’ wages between six and eight percent.
The number of protestors has been increasing throughout the week, with over 2,000 state and local public workers and supporters rallying in Madison, WI on Monday, 15,000 on Tuesday, and 20,000 on Wednesday, and 25,000 on Thursday. A significant number of protestors are now sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda and are vowing to stay until the issue is resolved.
Madison and Milwaukee School Districts, the two largest in the state, closed today with over 600 teachers from the Milwaukee districted calling in sick in support of the protest. This is the third day in a row that the Madison School District has been closed. Plus, some two down other school districts closed operation during the week. In addition, thousands of students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison staged a walk out, marching from campus to the Capitol, to protest the bill.
Legislation that would limit public workers unions has also been introduced by Republican leadership in Maine, Alabama, Ohio, Arizona, and Missouri.