Addicting Info- Posted in: News
Knowing that their bill would never pass with the 2/3 support it needed, Wisconsin Republicans drafted a second bill, primarily to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights, which only needed a simple majority to be passed. Labor unions vow to fight it, and to recall GOP Senators.
WASHINGTON — Dealt a major setback Wednesday night in a high-stakes battle over union rights in Wisconsin, labor leaders nevertheless insisted that they would emerge from the three-week long saga energized and eager to continue fighting.
Hours after Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and his Republican allies in the state Senate took nearly everyone by surprise and pushed through a stand-alone bill stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights, labor officials pledged to ramp up efforts to recall Republicans and challenge the legislation in court.
Only shortly before the vote took place, local news outlets reported that Republicans were splitting Walker’s budget repair bill into two. While the Senate requires a quorum of 3/5 of its members to vote on fiscal statutes, just a majority is needed for other matters. Therefore, Senate Republicans broke off the most controversial portions — including a proposal to strip away the collective bargaining rights of public employees — into a separate piece of legislation that could be passed without Senate Democrats, who were still out of state.
Labor officials quickly lambasted Republicans, calling what they did the “nuclear option.” Last month, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) had said he would not pass any portions of the budget repair bill without Democrats’ participation.
“Senate Republicans have exercised the nuclear option to ram through their bill attacking Wisconsin’s working families in the dark of night,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt in a statement. “Walker and the Republicans acted in violation of state open meetings laws, and tonight’s events have demonstrated they will do or say anything to pass their extreme agenda that attacks Wisconsin’s working families.”
Neuenfeldt’s comment that the GOP may have violated state laws hints at a possible court challenge should the legislation be passed by both legislative chambers and signed by the governor. Later in his statement, Neuenfeldt also said that what Republicans did “is beyond reprehensible and possibly criminal.”
A clearer indication came from Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI), the union representing public school teachers in the city.