Entries in CCollective Bargaining (2)


Nearly $30 Million Being Spent to Influence Recall Elections in Wisconsin

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- Months have passed since protests snarled the Wisconsin state capital and a collective bargaining argument shut down the state government. But the anger has not died away, and legislators from both parties face recall elections.

Though it sounds like a local Wisconsin issue, both sides say this is a major bellwether for 2012. The real ringer is that a staggering amount of money -- nearly $30 million -- is being spent by outside interest groups to influence the recall elections.

This month, voters will go to the polls to either keep or replace their state senators. On Tuesday, six incumbent Republicans are facing recall and the possibility that the chamber flips control from the Republicans to Democrats. The following week, two Democrats are also facing recall.

It all began with a sweeping change in state government. Republican Gov. Scott Walker assumed office in January and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits, ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature fled the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protestors on both sides of the issue gathered at the state capitol to protest or support Walker's move.
After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall the senators involved who were eligible had been in office more than a year.

Republicans responded by accusing Democrats of shirking their elected duties by literally running away from the vote.

Thanks to the well-funded recall efforts, enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.

If the Senate does change hands, Democrats could overturn Walker's legislation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Assembly Approves Budget Reform Bill

Photo Courtesy - Mark Hirsch/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin assembly members early this morning approved a bill that would take away the majority of public workers' collective bargaining rights.

Closure on the controversial bill is far from over as it now heads to the state senate, where 14 lawmakers have been absent in order to prevent a voting quorum.

Walker would not say how long he would wait on a vote for the bill that he says would balance the state's budget and repeal most union collective bargaining rights for public workers.

But he said failure to move the bill forward could result in state aid to local governments being cut by nearly $1 billion, as well as teacher layoffs.

"Year after year politicians passed the buck and that's precisely why we are in trouble today and its got to stop," said Walker. "Its not just about protecting the taxpayers, but its also about protecting the workers."

Neither Republicans nor Democrats were willing to blink first in the week-long debate that has resulted in 14 lawmakers in the Wisconsin senate fleeing their state, and has brought tens of thousands of protestors inside the Wisconsin capitol building.

Outside the capitol building, state troopers at the behest of Governor Walker tried unsuccessfully to find at least one of the 14 missing Wisconsin senate Democrats who have been on the run for more than a week. Their absence has halted debate in the Wisconsin senate and made it impossible for the bill to be passed into law.

Troopers visited homes of several lawmakers who have left the state in response to rumors that some of them were sneaking back across the border to pick up essentials. The gang of 14 said they would not return until Gov. Walker was willing to compromise on the collective bargaining proposals.

By compromise, Democrats mean strip it from the proposal. The governor and Republican leadership contend if that's done, the savings promised under the bill will vanish.

Walker says the bill will allow the state to save $300 million this year and $1.44 billion in the next state budget. Democrats say the $3.6 billion deficit for the next budget, which begins in July, is in large measure a result of the recent recession, and such plans to restrict union bargaining power is unnecessary, especially when state employees have already agreed to a pay cut.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio