Wisconsin is poised to strip collective bargaining rights from most of the state's 175,000 public employees in the boldest step by a new Republican governor and Legislature to solve budget problems by confronting organized labor.
The state Senate and Assembly are expected to vote as soon as Thursday on Gov. Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining for all state, county and local workers except for police, firefighters and the state patrol.
More than 10,000 public employees staged demonstrations at the state Capitol Tuesday to protest the measure, banging on drums and screaming "Save our state!" and "Kill the bill!" A parade of witnesses railed against the bill and testified to lawmakers for hours about the impact on middle-class families; hundreds still waited to speak as the clock ticked toward midnight.
Madison school district officials canceled Wednesday classes because teachers planned stay away to protest the bill. As of late Tuesday, 40 percent of the district's 2,600-member teacher bargaining unit had called in sick and the number was expected to increase.
Opponents of proposal essentially were mounting a "citizen filibuster" in hopes of delaying a committee vote on the bill, said Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester. But legislative leaders said earlier that Walker has enough support in both chambers to approve the measure, which he said is necessary to address a projected $3.6 billion budget deficit .Page 1 of 5 | Next Page