posted by: Alix
| March 11, 2011, 12:38 AM
After a month of union led protests, national media attention, walk-outs, and closed schools, Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly have finally approved Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. The Governor is expected to sign it imminently.
The legislation to end forced unionism, close budget gaps and limit collective bargaining by many public sector employees was passed last night by the Senate in an abrupt vote that surprised many Democrats.
By removing the sections of Governor Walker's bill that involved funding, the Senate Republicans were able to work around the legislative filibuster the Democrats had in place by fleeing the state to prevent a quorum.
Democrats say Walker is taking advantage of the state's current financial problems to attack labor unions, traditionally strong supporters of partisan politics. Many Wisconsin Democrats are questioning the legality and ethics of the "pushed through" bill despite their efforts to disrupt the legislative process through walkouts.
Governor Walker is not taking the criticism lightly. He applauded the move, pointing out that his office frequently reached out to the absentee lawmakers. "Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused," Walker stressed.
What began a month ago as a Republican effort in one forced union state to balance the budget has now turned into a confrontation with unions that is spreading across the country. Legislatures including those in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Kansas are in various stages of advancing similar laws.
The stakes are high for labor unions across the country as the biggest single source of funding for the Democratic Party. Without forced dues, teacher unions everywhere could potentially lose hundreds of millions.
AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner called the passage a milestone for Wisconsin teachers. "This legislation is a victory for teacher freedom. Educators will now have the right to examine the value of union membership and determine if it is in line with their personal beliefs and budget."
AAE is experiencing an influx of teachers seeking to understand their options in the wake of this legislation. "What we are seeing in Wisconsin is just the beginning. Teachers are realizing that exorbitant dues and questionable professionalism are of no value to modern day educators," stated Beckner."We welcome our new members seeking professional benefits without the political agendas of the teacher unions and encourage our current members to let their colleagues know about their non-union choice with AAE."
For continued coverage about the labor battle, check out AAE's media schedule.
Is Wisconsin just the beginning of sweeping changes to public sector unions?