Union Leaders Plan To Fight After Wisconsin Vote

UPDATED 03/11/11 12:02 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (CBS) — Union leaders say they are mounting a major counter-attack against Republicans nationwide, after Wisconsin lawmakers succeeded in stripping nearly all collective bargaining rights from the state’s public employees.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign off on the plan as soon as possible.

The state’s Assembly passed Walker’s proposal Thursday afternoon by a vote of 53-42, dealing one of the heaviest blows to the power of organized labor in years.

The state Senate approved the measure Wednesday night after using a procedural maneuver to bypass Democrats who had fled the state to block a vote. A quorum is required to pass any measure involving spending money, so the Republicans omitted most of the budget language in the bill.

The measure forbids most government workers from collectively bargaining for raises beyond the rate of inflation unless approved by referendum. It does not apply to police and firefighters.

On Thursday, police carried out the last few diehard protesters from the Wisconsin state capitol, just a few hours after the vote. Meanwhile, public employees are upset.

“It’s going to affect my income,” said University of Wisconsin employee Joyce Jardeau. “I’m considered non-essential personnel, so will I even have a job?”

Earlier the standoff turned into a shoving match, as demonstrators blocked the entrances to the Capitol and hallways inside. Some had to be dragged away as they tried to disrupt the final vote by the Republican-led assembly.

After the measure passed, Democratic state Assemblyman Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) tried to console the crowd.

“And now we go to the courts,” Hulsey said with bullhorn in hand.

He says it’s now up to the courts to challenge the legality of the bill.

“Every day we’ve been able to keep it out in the sun, shine more sun on it, it’s stunk more,” Hulsey said. “It’s a bad deal for Wisconsin families and our future.”

Meanwhile, the self-exiled Democratic senators have returned from Illinois after three weeks.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) returned home on Friday, still arguing strongly against the bill that passed.

“This isn’t about balancing the budget,” Erpenbach said. ”This is about taking workers’ rights away, because you still don’t have a balanced budget.”

But Walker says it’s too late.

“The fact of the matter is we live in a democracy, and to participate in a democracy, you’ve got to be in the arena,” Walker said.

Walker has insisted from the beginning that his budget plan – including stripping collective bargaining rights – is all about fiscal reform.

He said the measure would save Wisconsin $30 million in 2011 and avoid 1,500 layoffs he had threatened to make if Democrats had successfully blocked a vote on his plan.

“It also gives the tools not only to improve government for the people of this state – particularly middle class taxpayers of the state – but it ultimately allows us the tools at both the state and local level to balance our budgets and to balance our budgets not just now, but into the future,” Walker said.

Opponents said Walker was simply aiming for a future with weakened unions.

Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Walker’s plan was clearly a union-busting effort disguised as a budget-cutting measure.

“It is absolutely legitimate for state governments to ask for sacrifice broadly from their own workers in order to deal with very significant budget challenges,” Axelrod said. “But that should not be used as a kind of Trojan Horse through which you roll in a kind of ideological agenda to destroy unions. And that’s what we’ve seen in Wisconsin.

Labor leaders say what has happened in Wisconsin has mobilized middle-class Americans, and they plan to mount a counter-attack against Republicans in 2012.

  • bob

    Public Union Members don’t speak for all non-public union members. Trade union members don’t get the lavish bene’s these people see. I don’t know any carpenters or plumbers that get to retire in their early 50’s with 75% of their pay. The union movement of the past wasn’t to bankrupt states or allow people to retire at a ridiculous age with ridiculous pay. It also wasn’t to give gym teachers 160k a year to teach kids to bounce a ball or drivers ed teachers to make the same when their private sector counterparts make 1/4 of that.

    Why not ask the people of Wisc if they want their taxes raised like they’ve done in IL to pay for these lavish benefits while they sit at home trying to find a job being layed off?

    • Rufus Levin

      Trade Unions exist merely to promote their services, and to make it where a specific person that is an electrical worker cannot saw a board in two…has to bring in a cartenter union guy…and that makes everything more expensive to the consumer, while abusing him with extended time to finish a job.

      Sorry charlie, UNIONS ARE WORTHLESS.

  • Z.Nogal

    Go to hell with Union !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • RetiredinAz1

      Z….you are an idiot!

      • Rufus Levin


      • Jerry

        Are you?

  • RetiredinAz1

    I say let’s have all union employes walk off their jobs in Wisconsin….teachers, police, firemen….let’s see what the state would do then! walker is an idiot!

    • Rufus Levin

      They would IMMEDIATELY hire better replacement, and never miss a LICK…there are unemployed excellent people in ALL professionals all over the country…would take NO BIG DEAL to clean house in Wisconsin….if Reagan could fire ALL the Air Controllers and still fly airplanes, I guarantee that Wisconsin could keep going with what needs doing.

    • dino

      I hope they do and then the Governor like Reagan did should hire new people who are willing to work and pay for some of their benefits like the rest of us. Unions are obsolete, they have priced our country out of the world market, laws now protect workers from what unions were established for, get rid of them all. Taxpayers unite!!!!! We need a UNION

    • Jerry

      Well for one thing he would fire all those who walked. Then what will those people do? You really think this will help? They can try and force the state to give more just like the steel unions, auto unions, farm equipment manufacturing unions….etc. Of course now we get our steel from overseas, Toyota, Honda and others have a great share of the auto industry and foreign farm equipment is seen all around the world instead of John Deer, Cat and Case. Union greed really helped in all of these areas. There is only so much to go around. They should be happy they had such a GREAT deal for as long as they did. Now its time for reality..

  • Creature

    I was a Teamster Driver for 15 years….then left as they took away my pension and benefits that I enjoyed for awhile and then paid for.Still paid the same amount in union dues only to help the lazy hires file their grievences as they were protected by this so called union.Went and drove for a small non-union company who was elated to hire a person willing to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay.They matched all union pay and benefits to start.In the 11 years since I have made more money and work with better people than what I had with the Teamsters. So yes sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence

    • Rufus Levin

      Guess it took you 15 years to get over STUPID. Glad you got educated.

      • Creature

        Was not bad to start Rufus as I looked at the future for my family as most people do. Then the education started when all was disappearing while the union leaders were getting wealthier. then the hiring of whatever they found under a rock to become a member. In 15 years I”ve never had to depend on the union to help me keep my job yet it was getting worse every year with entitled workers wanting to get more for less. The Company is known worldwide and cannot get rid of the union(can’t shut down and open under a new name) so I decided to move on for better or worse. It was better for myself and family. The lesson I learned is Unions are for people who DON’T want to work.

    • The Truth

      As a former union tradesman I will agree 110% !!!!!! It was all “quantity over quality” and to actually have a BA tell me just that, and I quote “well yeah, it’s a trade off” just reinforced what I had suspected all along. It SHOULD be equal pay for equal work, but in my local’s case it was any fool who could buy his way in was given a job, and although the quality of his work was terrible, he earned the same wage as me simple because he had that card!! Benefits in union trades?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA………………….giimme a break!

  • Jon

    Even the mighty Soviet Union could not hang on forever-Time to go-the unions need to re-invent themselves so they actually can provide the best items or services AND BE COMPETATIVE! Hanging on the their inflated and over the top ideals is going to be the death of them. The Wisconsin Govenor is not the problem it’s the unions themselves. Their in denial, they have been over compensated way too long and have gotten to the point to thinking their entitled to double what everyone else gets-kinda like Charlie Sheen.

  • Public Servant

    As a proud union worker I believe the stereotype of lazy,fat,public employees is undeserved, The people I see working are energetic We do not look for handouts or free lunches those days are gone. We pay into our pension,we pay insurance amd deserve the benefits we have.Dino has no clue what unions do.everytime I see a section of goverment go private the rates go up with no noticeable difference in service.I believe the more in-house work being done the cheaper it will be and the lower taxes will be.

    • Rufus Levin

      There ARE NO PROUD UNION WORKERS, there are only STUPID ignorant blind Union Workers. I know exactly what unions do, and what idiots are promoted into their management group…..UNIONS MUST GO.

  • KittyKats

    Well if Walker hadn’t given all those lovely tax breaks to big business in his state he wouldn’t have need to lay people off.

    • Rufus Levin

      KittyKats, you have the RIGHT name…go back to your litter box where you left your brain.

  • brownarm323

    Now here is a great example, of the blind stupidity of public union employees. In the article there is a quote from Joyce Jardeau ” I’m considered non-essential personnel, so will I even have a Job?” Just to let the educators know, non-essential means not needed or waste. I do not think it takes a genius ti figure this out. Hey Joyce welcome to the prvate sector. Maybe she should ask one of the 14 Democrats that hid out for 3 weeks, why they did not stay to fight for what they believe in. If these were my representitives, I would want there heads on the chopping block. By the way GO SCOTT WALKER!!!!!!

  • Rufus Levin



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