Budget clash hotspots


Wisconsin governor wins battle
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won his drive to strip the state’s government workers of nearly all of their collective-bargaining rights Thursday, after a three-week standoff that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol. The state Assembly passed Walker’s proposal a day after Republican senators outmaneuvered the 14 Democratic senators who had fled Wisconsin to deny a quorum needed for passing a budget measure. By stripping the bill of its spending language, they were able to pass it with only Republicans present.

Opinion: Right Turn: Sen. Ron Johnson denounces ‘mob rule’

Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats
The Wisconsin State Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would slash union rights for public workers. The vote comes a day after the state Senate used a legislative maneuver to pass the bill without the 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in an effort to block it.

Opinion: Dionne: What Wisconsin Democrats can teach Washington Democrats

GOP imposes $100 fines on AWOL Wisconsin Senate Democrats
Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have voted to fine the chamber’s AWOL Democrats $100 for each day they miss of the legislative session. Wednesday’s vote comes nearly three weeks after the Senate’s 14 Democrats fled the state to block a vote on legislation that would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Republican Gov. Scott Walker says the GOP remains committed to the bill.

Wis. gov. proposes union compromise
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has offered to keep certain collective bargaining rights in place for state workers in a proposed compromise aimed at ending a nearly three-week standoff with absent Senate Democrats, according to e-mails released Tuesday by his office. The e-mails, some dated as recently as Sunday, show a softened stance in Walker’s talks with the 14 Democrats who fled to Illinois to block a vote on his original proposal that would strip nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers and force concessions amounting to an average 8 percent pay cut.

Wisconsin Democrats to return soon
The State Senate Democrats who left Wisconsin to block a vote on a bill that would severely curb collective bargaining for most public employees are planning to return soon, one of the lawmakers said. State Sen. Robert Jauch said the 14 Democrats are convinced that passing the measure would severely damage their Republican opponents.

News: Lawmaker: State Senate Democrats will return soon to Madison
Analysis: Are we nearing an endgame in Wisconsin?

Supporters of anti-union bill hold rally
About 700 people rallied Sunday in support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-union plan to balance the budget - a demonstration meant to counter three weeks of large anti-Walker protests in and around the state Capitol.

News: Supporters of bill hold rally in Wisconsin
Opinion: The Wisconsin union fight isn’t about benefits. It’s about labor’s influence.
Opinion: Who’s winning the fight over public-employee unions?
Video: Michael Moore rallies protesters

Wisc. governor begins process for layoffs
Gov. Walker sent letters to state employee unions saying that layoff notices would go out to state employees in 15 days. The governor also said that actual layoffs would occur a month from now if legislators do not pass his “budget repair” proposal.

News: Layoff process begins, escalating standoff in Wisconsin
Analysis: New ads turn up the heat on Wisconsin Republicans

Ohio GOP may invite backlash with tough stance on unions
State Republicans took the toughest line yet against public-sector unions this week, delivering an early and significant victory for a slew of lawmakers elected in November.

News: State, local pension funds understate shortfall by $1.5 trillion or more
News: Some Democratic state legislators have recently embraced a simple tool to gain leverage: the empty chair.

Midwest union battles highlight debate over improving schools
The Republican faceoff with labor unions in the Midwest and elsewhere marks not just a fight over money and collective bargaining, but also a test of wills over how to improve the nation’s schools. GOP governors are pushing to limit teacher bargaining rights, dismantle teacher tenure and channel public money toward private schools. All are direct challenges to the teachers unions and their mostly Democratic political allies in Congress and in statehouses across the nation.

Opinion: Dionne: No glory for governors trying to do the right fiscal thing

Ohio bill weakens public employee union negotiating rights
The Ohio Senate approved a bill that would weaken the powers of public workers unions to negotiate their contracts. The vote came as union supporters protested the measure for a second day on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbus.

Opinion: The Plum Line: Wisconsin Dems throw their weight behind drive to recall GOP Senators

Protests grow in Ohio as vote on union rights nears
Thousands of union supporters descended on the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday to protest a proposal that would dramatically curtail bargaining powers of government workers, as the state becomes the latest flash point in the fight over union rights.

News: GOP groups seek to raise $120M to spend against Obama and other Democrats
Opinion: The Fix: Unions winning battle for public opinion in Wisconsin
Opinion: The Plum Line: GOP ad badly distorts history of Wisconsin standoff
Opinion: Thiessen: Wisconsin and the GOP revolution

Interactive graphic: States in crisis
A state-by-state look at budget shortfalls, pensions liabilities, and proposed spending cuts. A screen grab is below; click on the link above to view the interactive version.
Government workers vs. taxpayers
The divide between government worker unions and their opponents, playing out now in several state capitals, highlights a critical aspect of the evolving labor movement. Throughout U.S. history, the most prominent union clashes largely involved employees squaring off against big corporate owners over how to share profits. The recent state budget controversies feature union members bargaining against state and local governments over wages and benefits provided by taxpayers.

News: Ohio, Wisconsin shine spotlight on new union battle
News: Police stop short of evicting demonstrators from Wis. capitol
Opinion: Wisconsin’s history with unions

Gov. Scott Walker steps up his defense
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) defended his position on curtailing collective bargaining rights for public employees during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

Asked about exemptions for police officers and firefighters, Walker argued that “this is not a value judgment about employees, but it is ultimately about preserving public safety.” Walker stood by his remark that “this is our moment in Wisconsin’s history,” saying,” I make no apology for the fact that this is an important moment in time.” Asked about how the standoff may end, Walker described himself as “an eternal optimist” and predicted that “at least some” of the state senators who have fled the state will return. He cautioned, though, that if the bill fails to pass by Tuesday, the state will lose $155 million in savings, and “if we continue down that path, we start seeing layoffs.”

Walker also said he had rejected the idea of planting troublemakers into the crowd of protesters. “The bottom line is we rejected that because we have had a civil discourse,” he said.

-- By Felicia Sonmez

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Gov. Walker refuses to back down
As state leaders gather in Washington for an annual gathering of the National Governors Association, protests continue in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere over state government spending cuts and collective-bargaining rights.

News: Gov. Walker threatens to trigger layoffs for thousands of public workers
News: Facts are in short supply in debate over union bill
News: Democratic governors try to enlist labor’s help in dealing with budget crises
News: Gov. Walker and other leaders are set to appear on “Meet the Press” tomorrow
Opinion: Scott Walker’s unprincipled rigidity
Opinion: Gov. Scott Walker can thank Michelle Rhee for making teachers unions the enemy

Wisconsin Assembly approves anti-union bill
The Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights--the first significant action on the new Republican governor’s plan. The vote put an end to three straight days of punishing debate, but the political standoff over the bill is far from over. In Washington, Democratic governors gathered for a national conference assailed Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

News: State spending cuts slow US economic growth in Q4
News: Some GOP leaders soften attacks on public unions
News: Democratic governors try to enlist labor’s help in dealing with budget crises
News: Palin, Gingrich, other possible 2012 GOP Presidential candidates weigh in
News: Virginia groups criticize McDonnell’s support of Wisconsin’s Walker
Editorial: Gov. Scott Walker could win in Wisconsin by compromising

Wisconsin Assembly reaches deal; state troopers sent to missing senators’ homes
Republicans and Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly agreed to a deal shortly before dawn on Thursday morning that sets the stage for a vote on a controversial bill taking away collective bargaining rights for public workers. Wisconsin state troopers were dispatched to the homes of the missing Democratic senators in an attempt to pressure them to return to break an impasse on a budget bill.

Analysis: Wisconsin governor urging others to take stands against unions
Opinion: The Fix: For Walker, cause and celebrity don’t necessarily mean cause celebre
News: 44: The blogger behind the Scott Walker prank call

Wisconsin governor gets ‘pranked
As the standoff continued in Wisconsin and union leaders began organizing for nationwide protests in every state capital on Saturday, the Internet was abuzz Wednesday with rumors (later confirmed) that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got pranked by a caller claiming to be David Koch. In the call, Walker reveals that he and other Republicans are looking at whether they can charge an “ethics code violation if not an outright felony” if unions are paying for food or lodging for any of the Democratic state senators. He also says he’s sending out notices next week to some 5,000 to 6,000 state workers letting them know that they are “at risk” of layoffs.

Opinion: Meyerson: Wisconsin is only part of the GOP war against unions
Opinion: The Fix: Why Wisconsin matters so much to labor
Opinion: Stromberg: Wisconsin governor’s -- and the GOP’s -- strange ‘budget discipline’
Audio: Prank call

State budget clashes spread to Indiana, Ohio
Democrats in Indiana took a page from the playbook of their counterparts in Wisconsin on Tuesday, refusing to show up and at least temporarily blocking a Republican-backed labor bill. In Ohio, protesters descended on the state capitol in Columbus in opposition to a bill put forward by GOP lawmakers that would restrict collective bargaining rights for public employees. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ratcheted up the pressure on state employees by linking relief from property taxes to sharp increases in what government workers pay for health insurance.

Opinion: The Plum Line: It’s just about crushing the unions
Opinion: Pearlstein: Making sense of Wisconsin’s union showdown
Opinion: Klein: Wisconsin is about power, not money
Analysis: Behind the Numbers: Unions and the Obama administration

Protesters gather at the Ohio Statehouse voice their opposition to a bill that would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. (AP)

Walker refuses to compromise
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said at a news conference that he won’t negotiate over his plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from nearly every public employee.

Opinion: Editorial: Public employees must help rein in unaffordable pension and benefits costs
Opinion: Robinson: Starving Wisconsin’s unions
Opinion: Will: Out of Wisconsin, a lesson in leadership for Obama

Protests continue for 6th day at Wisconsin Capitol
As union supporters moved inside for a sixth straight day of protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, Gov. Scott Walker reiterated that he wouldn’t compromise on the issue that had mobilized them, a bill that would eliminate most of public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin protests continue; counter-demonstrators support governor’s bill
Some of the largest crowds yet descended upon Wisconsin’s state capitol to march, chant and shout about Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial proposal to trim benefits and curtail collective-bargaining rights for many of the state’s unionized workers. The overwhelming majority of protesters were teachers, students and other public-service workers who spent the better part of a week demonstrating against Walker’s bill. But Saturday’s throngs included a sizable and vocal collection of tea party activists who arrived to show support for the embattled governor.

Opinion: Klein: How long can Scott Walker hold out?
Analysis: Balz: In Wisconsin and Washington, budget battles could reshape political landscape

Protesters continue to flood Wisconsin Capitol amid budget impasse
Tens of thousands of protesters jammed the Wisconsin capitol and many schools closed for a third day. State troopers were enlisted in the hunt for 14 Democratic state senators whose disappearance has prevented a vote on the new governor’s controversial budget proposal.

Video: Public worker protests spread from Wisconsin to Ohio
Video: Wisconsin governor on protests and cuts
Opinion: Klein: Unions aren’t to blame for Wisconsin’s budget
Opinion: Stromberg: Wisconsin’s governor is not Hitler
Opinion: Dionne: Governor Scott Walker’s overreach http://voices.washingtonpost.com

Protesters fill the State Capitol in Madison. (AP)

Obama joins Wisconsin’s budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill
As the Wisconsin protests swelled to 25,000, President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin’s broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals. Obama accused Scott Walker, the state’s new Republican governor, of unleashing an “assault” on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

Photos: Wisconsin protests fill state capitol

Thousands protest Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill in Wisconsin
Teachers, students and prison guards descended on the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday to fight a move to strip government workers of union rights in the first state to grant them more than a half-century ago, but Republican leaders said the changes they sought would not be made. The Statehouse filled with as many as 10,000 demonstrators who chanted, sang the national anthem and beat drums for hours in demonstrations unlike any seen in Madison in decades. The noise in the rotunda rose to the level of a chainsaw, and many Madison teachers joined the protest by calling in sick in such numbers that the district -- the state’s second-largest -- had to cancel classes.