Walker Goes Nuclear: Uses Dirty Tricks to Strip Union Rights

March 10, 2011

(ChattahBox Political News)— It was quick. It was dirty. And for now, it worked. Last night, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers pulled the trigger on an unprecedented parliamentary nuclear option to ram through a bill stripping most public service workers of their collective bargaining rights. How did they do it? The union-busting provisions were removed from the budget-repair bill to create a non-fiscal bill. The union-busting bill seemingly circumvented the 20 senator quorum rule in the senate for fiscal bills. After the new bill was approved in a hastily called conference in the lower chamber, the senate passed the measure within minutes in an 18-1 vote, with no Democrats present. The union stripping bill is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly at 12. p.m. est, and is expected to pass easily. The 14 Democratic senators who fled the state three-weeks ago to deny the Republicans a quorum, were blindsided, and enraged protesters converged inside the state capitol building, shouting “Shame, shame!” What now? Gov. Scott Walker’s claims that union-busting was needed to balance the state’s budget, was exposed as a lie last night when Republicans labeled the bill non-fiscal. There will certainly be legal challenges ahead. And the heavy-handed way worker rights were taken away last night will now energize the already-underway campaign to recall eight Republican senators.

Despite emails released by Walker this week to give the impression he was willing to negotiate with Democrats, this nuclear option to strip workers’ rights has apparently been coordinated and in motion for at least several days. First thing this morning, an editorial by Walker defending his union-stripping tactics appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel writes:

“Republicans devised a plan to get around the impasse and hurriedly approved the bill late in the day after meeting for hours behind closed doors. Walker met with them for more than half an hour at the start of the private meeting. [...]

That committee, formed just two hours earlier, quickly approved the bill as the lone Democrat at the meeting screamed that Republicans were violating the state’s open meetings law – a claim Republicans disputed.

“This is a violation of law!” bellowed Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) ignored him and ordered the roll to be taken.

Minutes later, the Senate took up the bill and passed it without debate.”

Minority Leader Sen. Mark Miller, said “In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin.”

This is going to get interesting. Walker’s authoritarian overreach will awake the unions and the middle class from their slumber, energizing them for the 2012 presidential election. The recall efforts will come to a head this summer. Just three Republican senators need to lose their seats for the Democrats to retake the majority.

The 14 Democratic senators will now put an end to their self-imposed exile, and return to Wisconsin to carry on their fight to protect workers’ rights.

You can watch a live stream of the growing protests in Madison here. And for up-to-date coverage of Gov. Walker’s union-busting, check out the WisPolitics Budget Blog.

Photo Source: Madison, Wisconsin protest/Jessie Reeder’s Flickr/ Creative Commons Attribution.


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