Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle


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Photos: The battle over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin Open in new window loading photos Massive crowds gather to see the 14 democratic senators that left the state to protest the bill proposed by the Gov.

Scott Walker and the Attack on the Progressive Tradition

Scott Walker return to massive crowds that continue to protest at the Wisconsin State Capitol on March Scott Walker performs a ceremonial bill signing outside his office at the Wisconsin State Capitol on March Protesters shout outside the office of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as he held a ceremonial bill-signing on March Protesters hold wooden letters that spell the word "shame" in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol on March Spectators in the gallery of the Wisconsin assembly chambers chant "shame" in protest after the House voted to pass the state's controversial budget bill in the Wisconsin assembly chamber on Thursday in Madison.

Democratic Rep. Wisconsin State Rep.


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Brett Hulsey D-WI flashes the peace sign after the House voted to pass the state's controversial budget bill in the Wisconsin assembly chamber on Thursday in Madison. The statue "Forward" displays a new sign at the State Capitol in Madison on Thursday, the day after the Senate passed the governor's controversial budget repair bill. Erving Smith, of Madison, Wis. Protesters get kicked out by police from the Wisconsin state assembly chamber as they try to block access to the chambers in Madison on March Wisconsin Rep.

Cory Mason, center, talks to protesters in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kensoha, center, calls an impromptu news conference March 9 after Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats. Tears roll down the face of Liz Sanger of Madison, Wis. Michael P. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, is escorted out of the state Capitol in Madison, March 9, after Republicans in the Senate voted to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats.

Opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill deride legislators as they leave the senate parlor at the Wisconsin State Capitol Building where the Senate voted to move forward on an amended version of the controversial bill Wednesday.

After a protester outside throws a snowball hitting a window at the state Capitol, State Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, D-Milladore, implores demonstrators to remain peaceful during a press conference of Democratic state Assembly members, March 9. Posters that were left behind by demostrators that occupied the State Capitol were collected and are being made available for people to claim them until this Friday. Select posters that are not claimed will be acquired by the Historical Society. Thousands of demonstrators are staging a protest at the Capitol against Governor Scott Walker's attempt to push through a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for most government workers in the state.

Some demonstrators returned to the Capitol hours after they were forced to vacate the building after occupying it for more than two weeks. They are protesting Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to push through a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for most government workers in the state.

Republican state Sen. Wisconsin Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kensoha, celebrates with other lawmakers and protesters March 3 outside of the state Capitol in Madison after a judge ordered the Department of Administration to open the Capitol to normal business hours. Protesters celebrate as they walk outside of the state Capitol after a judge ordered the Department of Administration to open the Capitol to normal business hours. Protesters wake-up outside of the state Capitol, Thursday in Madison after sleeping the night. Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are in their 16th day of protests.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration officials shut the doors to many protesters and some chose to sleep outside. Wisconsin State representative Fred Clark. Clark and several other Democrat members of the assembly moved their offices outside the building because of the difficulties the public was having entering the building which has been essentially locked down to prevent protestors from spending the night inside.

Demonstrators protest in a hallway below the assembly chamber where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was delivering his budget address to a joint session of the legislature at the capitol on March 1. Opponents to the governor's bill protest at the state Capitol on March 1. Democrats refuse to stand as Gov. Scott Walker arrives to deliver his budget address to a joint session of the Legislature, March 1 in Madison.

Police stand in the rotunda of the State Capitol on Feb. Damon Terrrell speaks to protesters at the State Capitol in on Feb.


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  • Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers protest outside of the State Capitol on Feb. Rally supporters hang an American flag from fourth floor windows of the State Capitol as thousands of opponents of Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill gather for ongoing protests inside and outside the State Capitol on Feb. Ryan Eykholt of Madison, Wis. Escorted by law enforcement officers, Assembly Republicans exit the state Capitol after cutting off debate and rapidly voting to pass a controversial budget repair bill in the state Assembly in Madison, Wis.

    Assembly Democrats wave to protesters, thanking them after Republicans cut off debate and rapidly voted to pass a controversial budget repair bill in the state Assembly at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin Reps. Opponents of the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers were in their 10th day of protests. Scott Walker was trying to get at least one Democratic senator back to the Capitol to vote on the bill. Wisconsin Democratic state Sens.

    The senators have been in Illinois after leaving Wisconsin to try to stop a vote on bill that would take away public workers' collective bargaining rights. Lauren M.

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    It Started in Wisconsin

    On the campaign trail in , Walker, then a gubernatorial candidate, disavowed late-night votes by Wisconsin lawmakers. At the time, the Assembly was pulling all-nighters in order to finish its two-year legislative session, a common occurrence that's angered government watchdogs who don't approve of state business conducted when most people are asleep.

    In April , Walker pledged to outlaw any votes in the legislature after 10 p. Scot Ross far right corner , executive director of One Wisconsin Now speaks at a rally outside of the State Capital on day 11 of protests over Gov. In an attempt to push through his unpopular Budget Repair Bill, Gov.

    Scott Walker has tried to set a Friday deadline for passage by falsely claiming that lack of action will cost taxpayers money:. Members of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate will be flooded with over 16, petitions signed by Wisconsinites united against Gov. The impact of furloughs -- or other substitute budget cuts - -could range from slower prosecutions to delayed trials and criminal arrest warrants, the officials said.

    Restraining orders in domestic violence cases also might be slowed, they said. Walker said privatizing airport operations could enable the county to "actually turn a profit and use the revenue to pay down debt. He sought but failed to win County Board support for a study on airport privatization for , and he didn't address the issue in his budget.

    Three county supervisors attending Walker's speech said they remained opposed. Supervisors Johnny Thomas, Christopher Larson and Theo Lipscomb said it would be unwise for the county to entrust one of its prime assets to private firms. They warned that fees for a variety of services at the airport would likely be increased. County Executive Scott Walker favors the measure. Supervisors, Walker and other elected officials were excluded from the pension trims The employee benefits concessions apply to just unrepresented employees, but also are aimed at leveraging similar concessions from the roughly 4, county employees who are union members.

    Walker was immediately criticized by supervisors and unions for unrealistic budgeting and the potential for plunging the county into a costly labor dispute. The County Board has a tentative contract with the county's largest union that calls for a two-year pay freeze in exchange for no layoffs and no privatized jobs - a deal that would go out the window under Walker's proposed budget. That raises the likelihood the county could be accused of bad-faith bargaining, warned Supervisor Lynne De Bruin.

    Walker has threatened to veto the tentative contract, and on Thursday the board delayed action on it. But as with other ideas he's broached -- most notably a hour work week and accompanying pay cuts -- the county executive ran into immediate resistance and accusations he's playing politics with people's lives.

    Walker said he's not bluffing about the need for the cutbacks or the likely alternative -- layoffs. All county department heads have been asked to draft layoff plans in case the freeze and his other efforts are rebuffed, Walker said Walker had no estimate of savings linked to a wage freeze.

    Amid the economic downturn, Walker imposed a partial hiring and travel freeze in September to help ward off a year-end deficit. He credited such moves with keeping the county in the black. But critics on the County Board say Walker has courted overtime growth by too thinly staffing county departments. Thomas Nardelli in the Milwaukee County executive's race. The union met with a series of candidates last week but put off an endorsement until Wednesday, after it met with Nardelli.

    The Council had about unions with about 60, members in Milwaukee County. The commission appears to be incapable of using common sense in most of these cases. Time and time again their rulings defy logic to the public. Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, wasn't convinced. He said he believed some of the problems with soured financial awards at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Scott Walker is among a large Republican field eyeing the White House. Mike Browne, deputy director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, issued a statement saying Badger Meter was a good location for the bill signing.

    Melissa Harris-Perry and her guests examine union and pension battles for potential Republican presidential candidates Scott Walker and Chris Christie. Scott Walker has gone from saying "I'm not supporting" so-called right to work legislation in Wisconsin's legislative session, to saying he will sign a bill that's being fast-tracked to his desk On May 11, , Walker told reporters at the state Republican Party convention he had "no interest in pursuing right-to-work legislation in this state.

    On Feb. Mike Browne, a progressive activist with One Wisconsin Now, told ThinkProgress he suspects lawmakers are moving quickly to try to avoid another uproar. Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive group One Wisconsin Now, said he thought Kapenga's right-to-work bill was really a political ploy to get concessions from Walker during the negotiation over Wisconsin's next budget.

    Walker says anything to get re-elected and now he and his Republican front groups are ready to launch a frontal assault on Wisconsin's middle class working women and men," said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.

    War against workers rages in Midwest states

    Teaching, nursing, and social work are all public sector fields that are overwhelmingly female, and women account for more than half of all public sector union members. Scott Walker, says the director of a Madison progressive advocacy group. Restaurant and other food service workers make up the biggest group. Bill McCoshen, Scot Ross for a political round table talk.

    Walker signed into law a provision in the budget which lifted provisions barring 16 and year-olds from working more than 26 hours during a school week and more than 50 hours a week during vacations, potentially exposing young workers to exploitation by employers.

    The Department of Workforce Development, which enforces child labor regulations, is actually prohibited from improving protections through the administrative rules process. Effective January 1, , there will be a one-week waiting period before an unemployed worker can collect benefits. The inclusion of this change in the State Budget was made unilaterally by Republicans in the Legislature.

    Despite a veto request by all labor and management representatives on the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, Governor Walker signed this into law. For decades, the Advisory Council has made changes to UI benefits through a balanced, negotiated agreement involving employers and labor. Scot Ross talked about the ongoing legislative battle between the governor of Wisconsin and state Democrats on the budget, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. If Walker is as dim a bulb as recent events have revealed him to be, the FOIA request filed yesterday by One Wisconsin Now for all communications and meetings between Walker and Koch lobbyists may prove devastating.

    Hundreds of people are protesting and attending town halls in towns across the state, sometimes towns with only a few thousand people living in them. And if you think the fight is messy now, just wait until Walker rolls out his actual budget. Research by One Wisconsin Now, a progressive watchdog group, has shined a lot of light on the reasons why Walker is being so stubborn.

    As it turns out, he screwed up badly. Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, joined Ed Schultz to talk about the dramatic growth in the number of people opposing Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill. Walker is taking to consolidate his power. Walker is the leading Republican candidate for governor. Holiday season is approaching and this might be that gift you were looking for. Or just go out an buy it for yourself. Shopping Tip: Shop at Powells, the union bookshop. Safety in the Shadow of Fertilizer Plants: We wrote earlier about attempts by the fertilizer industry to insert language into the Farm Bill that would make it harder for OSHA to enforce safe working conditions in chemical facilities.

    Midwest labor mounts protests against anti-worker budget bills

    The effort to better enforce safety in these facilities follows the West Fertilizer explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people and destroyed much of the town. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Skip to content.

    Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle
    Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle
    Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle
    Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle
    Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle Wisconsin: from the front lines of the labor battle

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