Entries in Collective Bargaining (8)


Election Day 2011: Personhood, Collective Bargaining Dominate Ballots

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Mississippi is in the national spotlight Tuesday as voters there cast their ballots on the controversial “personhood” measure and a voting provision that has spurred national debate.

Initiative 26 is a citizen-led measure that defines human life as starting at “the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”  The measure will likely be challenged in court, if it passes, and could set the precedent for abortion laws in the rest of the country.

The measure would restrict certain birth control methods and in-vitro fertilization treatment, and would ban all abortion.

Abortion rights activists charge that the initiative is the biggest assault on women’s rights to date.

Anti-abortionists have been mixed on the issue.  Most believe that human life begins at conception and support allowing it in the case of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is in danger.  This provision takes the definition much farther, and some conservative groups are concerned that, if it’s taken up by the Supreme Court, it would hamper their ability to overturn Roe v. Wade by shifting the discussion.

Lines were forming early, according to local reports, as the national debate over Initiative 26 continued to brew.  Election officials predicted a higher-than-expected turnout -- an anomaly for an off-year election -- if the morning’s figures remained steady.

Mississippians will also vote on another ballot measure that requires people to submit government-sponsored photo ID before being allowed to vote.  The measure is backed by Republicans who say it will stop election fraud.  Democrats, however, have blasted the initiative, saying it will reduce voter turnout.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, labor unions and the White House are closely monitoring a ballot measure there that attempts to cut back collective bargaining rights for union workers and could affect hundreds of thousands of public employees.

Issue 2 would eliminate public employees’ right to collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions, bar them from striking -- workers would pay a price from their paycheck if they do so -- and curb promotions based on seniority.  It would also increase health care costs for workers.

Employees would have to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums and allocate 10 percent of their salary for pensions.

It goes one step farther than the controversial Wisconsin measure -- which was the first to curb rights for union workers -- by including police and firefighters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin GOP Retain Control of State Senate

Mark Hirsch/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- The GOP retained majority control of the Wisconsin Senate after four Republican State Senators fended off recall votes Tuesday and held on to their seats.

Democrats picked up two seats in the elections fueled by widespread backlash against GOP support for Gov. Scott Walker's cutting of state employee bargaining rights.

The final seat race ended close to midnight when State Sen. Alberta Darling retained her seat, defeating Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch.  Unofficial numbers have Darling with 54 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent going to Pasch.

Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, and Luther Olsen of Ripon defeated their Democratic challengers based on unofficial results on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

WISN-TV reports that Cowles captured 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Nancy Nusbaum; Harsdorf had 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Shelly Moore; and Olsen had 54 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent of the vote for state Rep. Fred Clark.

Democrats were able to successfully recall Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke, with Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse taking the seat.  Early results have Shilling taking 55 percent of the vote compared with 45 percent for Kapanke.

Jessica King, 34, another Democrat, defeated Republican State Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, according to WISN-TV.  With all precincts reporting, King led Hopper 51 percent to 49 percent.

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature left the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capital to protest or support Walker's move.  After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific senators who were eligible.

Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty.  Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.

There are two more recall elections next week.  Two Democratic Senators are facing recall on Aug. 16.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Court Upholds Law to Gut Collective Bargaining Rights

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Chalk up a big win for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans who championed a controversial law that virtually kills the collective bargaining rights of state workers.

The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a committee of lawmakers did not violate Wisconsin's open meetings law when it hurriedly pushed through the statute earlier this year.  The decision overturns a ruling by a Dane County judge who the court said exceeded her jurisdiction by stopping the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.

Walker said the law was necessary to balance the state budget while its opponents maintained it was simply a union-busting measure intended to weaken a constituency that supports Democrats in general elections.

The law spurred massive protests in Madison last February as Senate Democrats fled the state for three weeks to prevent a vote from occurring.  However, Republicans removed fiscal parts of the law, enabling the Legislature to pass it without the Senate Democrats present.

Since then, supporters and opponents of the law have scheduled recall elections for this summer that could affect the balance of power in the Legislature that might allow Democrats to repeal the law.  Meanwhile, there are a number of lawsuits pending to stop the law's implementation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Governor Backs Off from Enacting Budget Repair Law

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Many in Wisconsin seemed to be confused about the legality of the budget repair law that Republican Gov. Scott Walker says is needed to trim deficits but that Democrats contend is just a ploy to bust state and local unions.

After the law was passed by Republicans in what many say is questionable fashion, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued an injunction, saying it could not be published until she determined whether GOP actions to pass the law violated Wisconsin's open meetings law.

Even though the law wasn't signed by the secretary of state nor published in the state's newspaper of record, both as required, Walker ignored the judge's ruling by having it published by the Legislative Reference Bureau and then declaring his administration "will carry out the law as required."

That meant the government would begin deducting money from most state workers' paychecks to go towards financing their health plans, in addition to implementing provisions that greatly reduced their collective bargaining rights.

Incensed by Walker's decision, Judge Sumi said that if Wisconsin went ahead and enacted the law, the violators, including Walker, would face sanctions.

By Thursday, Walker backed down.

Saying that the governor would comply with the judge's order, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch added, "While I believe the budget repair bill was legally published and is indeed law, given the most recent court action, we will suspend the implementation of it at this time."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Idaho Teachers Union Plans Referendum of Collective Bargaining Bill

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(BOISE, Idaho) -- The Idaho teacher's union announced that it may urge voters to overturn the newly-passed laws limiting collective bargaining rights.

As a last resort, the union is planning on gathering enough signatures to repeal two bills, both of which were signed Thursday by Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. The measures eliminate issues like class size from collective bargaining between schools and the Idaho Education Association.

The state teacher's union said the referendum would be included in 2012 elections.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Governor Ready to Sign Union-Busting Bill

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- It's all over in Wisconsin, but the shouting is expected to go on for quite a while after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill that strips the state's 175,000 workers of most of their collective bargaining rights.

The measure is a huge victory for Gov. Scott Walker, who said it was necessary so that Wisconsin could put the state's fiscal house in order.  The state faces a $137 million budget shortfall that Walker says will grow to $3.6 billion in a few years without major concessions from the unions.

Critics say Walker was only playing politics and that his real motivation was weakening unions in order to weaken the Democratic Party.  Several states, including Ohio, are moving ahead with similar proposals that target the labor rights of public employees.

Walker is poised to sign the bill after the state's Assembly Thursday passed the measure 53 to 42, with no support from Democrats.  Pro-union supporters in the gallery screamed "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as GOP lawmakers exited the chamber.  Earlier, about 20 protesters were removed by police so that the Assembly members could debate the bill and cast a vote.

The Assembly's vote came a day after Senate Republicans stripped the financial provisions from the controversial bill, which enabled them to pass it without the necessary quorum.

Fourteen Democrats fled to Illinois three weeks ago to prevent a vote from taking place.  However, Senate Republicans got around their absence Wednesday with the procedural move.

The bill passed by Republicans ends collective bargaining on health benefits, pensions, hours, overtime, vacation, work schedules and sick leave or family leave, rights state and local workers have had for 50 years.  Workers can now only bargain for wage increases so long as they don't exceed the rate of inflation.

The unions had already agreed to a key concession by offering to pay more into their pensions and health plans.

Police and firefighters, who supported Walker's run for governor last fall, are exempt from the new rules.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Protests Planned in Wisconsin After Senate Approves Bill

ABC News Radio(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Not long after Republican members of the Wisconsin State Senate used creative parliamentary tactics to push through a bill that would strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees, Democratic legislators, unions, and progressive groups were already vowing revenge.

"In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin," Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller said in a statement Wednesday. "Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.  Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government."

Miller was one of 14 Democratic legislators who had been hiding out in Illinois during the weeks-long stalemate between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his opponents -- a coalition of Democrats and organized labor. Overnight thousands of protesters stormed the Wisconsin state capitol, as ABC News reported, and more demonstrations are planned across the state later Thursday.

Wednesday night, by an 18-1 vote, Senate Republicans managed to find a way around the need for a quorum of 20 senators and passed the bill Walker had sought by stripping the collective bargaining provisions from the governor's "budget-repair bill."

The bill "removes fiscal elements of the proposal" but also "increases employee payments in pension and health benefits.  The changes would amount to an approximate eight percent pay cut for public workers," according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The State Assembly will meet Thursday morning to vote on the bill.  If the assembly passes it, it moves to the governor's desk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iowa House Opens Debate on Overhaul of State's CB Law

George Doyle/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- The Iowa House has opened debate on an overhaul of the state's collective bargaining law, with majority Republicans vowing to scale back negotiating rights. The debate began Wednesday afternoon and could stretch into Thursday.

The bill limits what public unions can bargain on, including the terms and source of insurance and other factors that can be considered before employee layoffs. It also calls for arbitrators to consider a comparison of the wages and benefits of state workers with private sector workers.

Democrats have filed more than 100 amendments in an effort to slow the measure, but it's expected to pass the House. Its future is doubtful in the Democratic-controlled Senate and union members have gathered at the Capitol, chanting "kill the bill'' and "we are one.''

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio