Standoff continues in Wisconsin between Gov. Scott Walker, public employee unions

Demonstrators at the Capitol building in Madison are protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's legislation to cut public employees' benefits and eliminate most of their collective bargaining rights.
Compiled by Ian Saleh
Washington Post Staff
Wednesday, February 23, 2011; 5:03 PM

The showdown between Governor Scott Walker and the public employee unions continued Wednesday, and the stakes remained high, as Chris Cillizza reported:

The ongoing standoff between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and organized labor has obvious practical implications, the most obvious of which is whether the right of public-sector unions to collectively bargain will be maintained or eroded.

But, the symbolic import of the Wisconsin showdown is no less critical as it comes at a time when the labor movement nationally is struggling to maintain its once-dominant role in electoral politics.

Exit polling shows a troubling trend line for union influence on elections. In 2008, just 21 percent of the electorate said they had a union member in their household -- the lowest percentage in any presidential election dating back to 1972.

There are a few possible outcomes of the Wisconsin budget showdown, as Ezra Klein explained:

Mother Jones's Andy Kroll has been doing some great reporting from Wisconsin, and he runs through four of the possible endgames here. They are:

1) The bill passes.

2) The collective-bargaining ban gets dropped.

3) A weird procedural effort to repackage the bill as "non-financial," which would mean the Senate Democrats don't need to be present.

4) The collective-bargaining ban gets pushed to the 2011-13 budget fight, which will happen in the spring.

The problem with trying to game out Gov. Scott Walker's negotiating style is that the guy doesn't seem like much of a negotiator. Another politician would've taken the concrete concessions on pensions and health-care benefits, threatened to revisit the collective-bargaining ban in the spring if any of the unions failed to make the promised concessions and thrown himself a parade. But not Walker.

Video: Wisconsin Democrats try to stall anti-union bill

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