Yesterday, Wisconsin Republicans modified their anti-collective bargaining bill so it would not require the votes of the state Democrats and passed what they claim to be a ‘budget repair bill.’ We already know, it’s a callous and rather unpopular attempt at union busting. Not one Democrat was present.
Mr. Walker, a Republican whose efforts to diminish collective bargaining rights have placed him firmly in the national spotlight during his less than three months in office, applauded the Senate’s move on Wednesday night, and said it brought the state a step closer to balancing its budget. “The action today will help ensure Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs,” Mr. Walker said, in a statement released minutes after the unexpected vote.
Democrats, meanwhile, condemned the move as an attack on working families, a violation of open meetings requirements (most of them did not know there was to be a vote until not long before), and a virtual firebomb in state that already found itself politically polarized and consumed with recall efforts, large scale protests and fury from public workers.
“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” said Mark Miller, the leader of the Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois on Feb. 17 to block just such a vote from occurring. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.”
Walker continues to claim it is for the budget but in a prank call in which he thought he was talking to billionaire David Koch, Walker admits that what he is trying to do is defund unions and ruin Obama’s 2012 chances in Wisconsin. That is an ideological move, not a fiscal one, sorry Walker.
Naomi Klein calls what Walker is doing shock doctrine, using a financial crisis to justify privatizing local and state governments and take power away from unions. Check her out on Maddow talking about this strategic and appalling move both in Michigan and in Wisconsin.
Finally, workers in Wisconsin have been protesting for days. This move has essentially thrown gasoline on the fire. Or as the Christian Science Monitor called it, Wisconsin Republicans chose the ‘nuclear option.’
Shame on the Wisconsin Senate. Now would be time to recall the 8 republicans responsible for this. Labor leaders are discussing the possibility of a general strike and that may truly be the only option.