Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin Lawmakers pass union bargaining bill as protests rage

Wisconsin budget battle: Protesters rally against anti-union bill
Demonstrators at the Capitol building in Madison are protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's legislation to cut public employees' benefits and eliminate most of their collective bargaining rights.


By Tim Jones
(c) 2011 Bloomberg News
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 5:51 PM

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Wisconsin Assembly voted 53-42 to give final passage to a bill curbing collective bargaining for most government workers that was stalled for weeks when Democratic senators left for Illinois to prevent a quorum.

The measure, which exempts police and firemen, limits bargaining to wages, not benefits or working conditions. Unions would be subject to recertification votes every year, requiring 51 percent of members, not just those voting. Automatic withdrawals to pay union dues would be prohibited.

Governor Scott Walker, a 43-year-old first-term Republican, said the measure would generate $30 million in savings this fiscal year and $300 million in the next two years. The bill calls for workers to pay more toward pensions and health insurance. He said he will sign the measure as soon as he is able.

"This is disgraceful and you all know it," Representative Tamara Grigsby, a Democrat from Milwaukee, told Republicans in a floor speech. "You know this is wrong, and you're going to pay a price for it."


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