Breaking Senate rules and Wisconsin law, Wisconsin Republican senators voted in conference committee yesterday to take away collective bargaining rights of public workers. In the absence of the 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in a strategy the make Governor Scott Walker (R) negotiate with them, the Republican senators voted in conference to strip the House bill of its spending measures to bypass the Senate 60 percent quorum. Then the Republican Senators voted 18-1, with only Republicans voting. The Republican senators violated the Wisconsin Open Public Meetings Law requiring that 24 hours’ notice be given prior to a meeting.
After the Republican Senate vote, about 7,000 protestors peacefully descended on the Wisconsin Capitol carrying drums and horns and chanting. Over the past three weeks, tens of thousands of protestors have been gathering daily in Madison, WI to protest the anti-union bill. A significant number of protestors have also been sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda and are vowing to stay until the issue is resolved.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, “The feminist movement stands firmly with the public workers. This attack on public workers, many of whom are women who can hardly make ends meet while once again millionaires are given tax breaks, must stop.”
Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO called the stand-alone union busting a nuclear option, and Democrats are vowing to fight back. Governor Walker’s extreme anti-union 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.
Governor Walker, endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life, considers himself 100 percent pro-life and opposes abortion for all reasons, even in the cases of rape, incest, and when the woman’s life is endangered. Walker also opposes stem cell research and is in favor of cuts to family planning funding.