e-cigarette review NEWS: Pressure on Wisconsin Unions, Dems Grows as Walkout Drags on

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pressure on Wisconsin Unions, Dems Grows as Walkout Drags on

The 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin Senate remain at large, with a handful vowing in interviews from undisclosed locations to stay in hiding as long as necessary to prevent a vote on a budget proposal opposed by government union workers.
But with only one Democrat needed to bring the measure up for vote and Republican resolve deepening, the standoff seems set to soon turn into a showdown.
Meanwhile, labor activists from around the country continue to flock to Madison to join the protest of the legislation which would increase state workers’ contributions to their retirement and health benefits and make future pay raises beyond standard cost-of-living increases subject to a public vote.
Tens of thousands of union marchers, many bussed in from around the Midwest, showed their opposition in a weekend march on the governor’s mansion and mass demonstrations. Government workers planned to use their Washington’s Birthday holiday for sympathy protests in Iowa and other states.
But amid the high-stakes standoff, there are signs that the union-Democrat coalition is showing some strains.
Union teachers were urged to return to classes by the head of their statewide labor group after repeated complaints from parents who have seen schools in many districts closed since the middle of last week as teachers call in sick. While out of state groups can replace the manpower for the sit-in protest at the capitol, the end of the sick out is a sign that public tolerance of the labor unrest is growing thin.
On the table now is a plan from a centrist Republican senator that would make the curbs on public employee unions in Gov. Scott Walker’s bill temporary. Union leaders declare the measure unacceptable because Republicans could vote to extend the restrictions in 2013, but it increases the pressure on Democratic senators to emerge from hiding and to allow the Senate to resume.
Remember, just one Democrat needs to be present for a vote to take place. Refusing to go to work for six days while the state capital remains in turmoil has not enhanced their bargaining position. While Walker and Republicans are on television and in newspapers pleading constantly for the legislature to be allowed to function, Democrats have been limited to furtive media appearances and forced to rely on labor leaders to carry their messages.
The Senate president says the body will reconvene on Tuesday in hopes that at least one Democrat may choose to break the boycott.
Democrats argue that there would be a heavy political price for Republicans to pay if the federal government shuts down over a budget impasse – that public patience will wear thin when political disagreements cause disruptions. By the same argument, Wisconsin’s Democrats are inviting a backlash by holding out.


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