Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin GOP Really Puts It To Workers

When I found out the Wisconsin State Senate was able to pass a stripped down version of Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill last night without needed a full quorum, I was...disappointed. Maybe even deflated. I just felt down and annoyed. I guess it's my fault for being unduly optimistic when I should know better, but I really thought the unions had a chance. The worse part is the state's attempt to strip union members of their right to collectively bargain may not even be the most serious issue with the bill.

From Mother Jones:
On Wednesday night, Republicans in Wisconsin's state senate rammed through a retooled version of Governor Scott Walker's controversial "budget repair bill" with the 14 senate Democrats still in hiding in Illinois. The senate bill eliminates collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions, a provision that has labor leaders and protesters up in arms. But there's another explosive provision in the bill that's received little attention: The bill authorizes state officials to fire any state employee who joins a strike, walk-out, sit-in, or coordinated effort to call in sick.

According to an analysis (PDF) of the Senate bill by Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), the legislation gives state officials the power to fire workers during a "state of emergency" declared by the governor under several conditions. If a state employee misses three working days without an approved leave of absence, that's grounds for being fired. State workers can also be dumped if, according to the LFB's analysis, they participate in a "strike, work stoppage, sit-down, stay-in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government, including mass resignations or sick calls."

The implications of this under-the-radar provision are significant. After the state senate passed its bill, talks swirled of organizing a coordinated strike or walk-out to protest the bill's attack on collective bargaining. In the state Capitol, chants of "general strike!" broke out among protesters stuck outside the building. On Wednesday night, Madison Firefighters union president Joe Conway said he's "in total agreement" with the idea of a general strike. "We should start walking out tomorrow and the next day, and see how long they can last," Conway said. Under this measure, if such protests occur, Walker could declare a state of emergency, and protesting workers could be canned.
At this point it looks like a general strike of all public employees is the next step, but I'm still bitterly disappointed.

2 comments:

  1. It pisses me off that they're allowed to sneak around and pass bills, when it's obvious it's not what their constituents want. They're willing to cut the funding when it comes to valuable state employees, but I be they aren't willing to take cuts to their personal health care and salaries. It's so sad.

    On the bright side, perhaps this will piss them off enough that they'll remember it come election time and kick these sleaze balls out of office.

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  2. They can do this, but passing Health Care Reform with a majority is "cramming it through?" wtf?

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