Friday, March 11, 2011

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Controversial Public Union Bargaining Bill.

A day after Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate used procedural maneuvers to pass a bill stripping public unions of most collective bargaining rights, the state Assembly passed the bill, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker. While media reports, including the lead story on NBC, portray the vote as a win for Walker, many outlets note the controversy has energized unions and the Democratic allies.

The AP (3/10) reports the White House "is denouncing a vote by the Wisconsin Senate to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from government workers, calling it an assault on public employees." White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama "believes it is wrong for Wisconsin to use its budget troubles 'to denigrate or vilify public sector employees.'" In a second story, the AP (3/11, Bauer) reports union leaders "plan to use the setback to fire up their members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (3/11, Stein, Marley, Bergquist) reports "even with the battle won by Republicans, a wider war now remains for both sides, one expected to be fought in the courts and through recall efforts against 16 state senators." The Wisconsin State Journal (3/11, Spicuzza, Barbour) reports Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca "called the actions 'a mockery of our democracy,' and said he believed the vote would not stand. Barca said that in the past month Republicans violated open meetings laws, a court order to open the state Capitol and various rules of the Assembly and Senate -- all to advance legislation aimed at busting unions under the guise of balancing the budget."

The Madison Capital Times (3/11, Davidoff, Czubkowski) reports, "Tears flowed freely from the eyes of several protesters while others had a look of stony resolve when it became clear that the state Assembly had, as expected, voted Thursday to approve a bill that sharply curtails collective bargaining rights for most public employees."

The Los Angeles Times (3/11, Haggerty, Muskal) reports even though "the outcome was expected, it didn't stop the fiery words that have monopolized Wisconsin politics for almost a month and have put the state solidly on the national political map."

The Washington Post (3/11, Tumulty) reports the "new legislation represents a major setback for organized labor, but the political battle over public employees and their rights to bargain is likely to continue - not only in Madison." Despite "losing the battle in Wisconsin, union leaders said it would have repercussions across the country."

The New York Times (3/11, Davey, Sulzberger) reports Walker "won his battle on Thursday to cut bargaining rights for most government workers in Wisconsin," but his "victory, after the State Assembly passed the bill, also carries risks for the state's Republicans who swept into power last November." Democratic-leaning voters "appeared energized by the battle over collective bargaining on a national stage."