Wisc. Dems Go on the Lam to Protest Union-Busting Gov.
February 17, 2011
(ChattahBox Political News)—-Republican governors are all operating from the same playbook. Bust public unions and demonize public employees as greedy loafers responsible for the budget crisis. Why? Republicans want to weaken the ability of public unions to organize grassroots support for President Obama in the 2012 elections. Also, Republicans are using the convenient cover of budget deficits to attack wage earners in this country and beat them down once and for all. There is a war going on in this country right now, between people who sign the checks and people who cash the checks. And it’s all coming to a head in the state of Wisconsin.
Newly elected Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) draconian budget plan would erase any meaningful collective bargaining rights of state employees by legislative fiat. To get his way, Walker has threatened state workers, by vowing to call out National Guard troops to quell any protests. Despite Walker’s intimidation tactics, the wage earners of Wisconsin will not be cowered into submission. Thousands of state workers have descended on the state capitol to protest Walker’s assault on their collective bargaining rights. So many teachers have called in sick that school districts have canceled classes for two days in a row. And to prevent a vote on Walker’s heavy handed union busting plan, all 14 Democratic state senators are now officially on the lam at undisclosed locations in a neighboring state, out of the reach of state police. The Democratic lawmakers say they will not return to the state capitol, until Walker stands down and agrees to sit down at the negotiating table to arrive at a reasonable compromise with public employees that preserves their collective bargaining rights. Like I said, there’s a war going on. And it’s getting red hot in Wisconsin.
Walker and his union-busting minions are unabashedly blatant about their agenda. Bust the unions that didn’t support his Republican gubernatorial campaign, especially teachers. The unions that did support his campaign, local police, state troopers and firefighters are conveniently exempt from his union busting plan.
More shocking, Walker manufactured a state budget crisis that doesn’t exist, for the sole purpose of breaking up public unions. The state’s fiscal bureau found that the Wisconsin state budget would have ended the year with a surplus, were it not for a series of tax cuts for the rich implemented in Walker’s first week of office.
“Walker was not forced into a budget repair bill by circumstances beyond he control,” says Jack Norman, research director at the Institute for Wisconsin Future — a public interest think tank. “He wanted a budget repair bill and forced it by pushing through tax cuts… so he could rush through these other changes.”
“The state of Wisconsin has not reached the point at which austerity measures are needed,” Norman adds.
This is what you get Wisconsin, when you vote in an extreme right-wing ideologue into office.
Walker’s bullying, power grabbing tactics are so extreme, the MIA Democratic lawmakers are ready to stand strong and go rogue for the rights of middle class wage earners in this country.
The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent spoke to Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, one of the Democratic lawmakers who fled the state, to deny the Republicans a legislative quorum to hold the vote wiping out the collective bargaining rights of public workers.
“Each of us is in a secure location,” he told me, confirming that they were not all together but were monitoring events on the Web and on Twitter. Larson refused to say whether he and his fellow Dems had left the state, as some have speculated.
“We’re going to be staying away until we hear that they are taking the right to organize seriously,” Larson continued, referring to Republicans. “They’re going after 50 years of history in one week. Until they take that off the table, it’s a non-starter.”
Meanwhile, the Republican state Senate Majority Leader has called out the state police to hunt down the MIA Democrats and return them to the capitol for a vote.
This is an extraordinary and dramatic turn of events. Stay tuned.