Wisconsin Layoff Notices Will Come Friday, Scott Walker Says

03/03/2011 05:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • AP/The Huffington Post

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday that he will issue layoff notices to 1,500 state workers on Friday if his proposal forcing them to pay more for benefits and taking away nearly all their collective bargaining rights isn't passed by then.

Walker also said in an interview with The Associated Press that he is negotiating with Democrats who stymied passage of the bill by leaving the state for changes to the proposal that would get them to return. Walker said he won't compromise on the collective bargaining issue or anything that saves the state money.

"I can't take any of that off the table," he said.

Walker's budget proposal hinges on the state saving $330 million over two years from forcing state workers to pay more for their benefits. He's also cutting aid to schools and local governments by about $1 billion, reductions he says they can't handle without the freedom he gives them through eliminating nearly all collective bargaining with public workers.

Walker said he has to issue the layoff notices starting Friday so the state can start to realize the $30 million savings he had assumed would come from the state worker concessions contained in the bill. The layoffs wouldn't be effective for 31 days, and Walker said he could rescind them if the bill passed in the meantime.

All state workers, except those in prisons, state hospitals and other facilities open around the clock, would be potential layoff targets, he said.

"We'll prepare them, let them out by the end of the day," Walker said. "I pushed it off as long as I could ... I do not want to have layoffs."

As for the Senate Democrats, Walker said he was talking with some of the "more reasonable members" about a deal that could get them to come back.

"I'm still cautiously optimistic we can get this done," Walker said. "I think we're close, but the problem is we thought we were close the past couple days."

03/07/2011 5:01 PM EST

No Compromise?

The Atlantic reports that at one town hall meeting in Wisconsin, one GOP state senator faced "loud opposition" to a proposed compromise.

03/04/2011 1:04 AM EST

Judge Orders Protesters Out Of Capitol

From AP:

About 50 pro-union protesters peacefully left the state Capitol late Thursday after a judge ruled they could no longer spend the night to show their opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers.

The judge also ruled the state had violated the public's free speech and assembly rights by restricting access to the building.

Full story here.

03/03/2011 5:00 PM EST

Layoff Notices To Come Friday

AP reports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he will issue layoff notices to 1,500 state employees Friday if his union bill doesn't pass by then:

Walker also said in an interview with The Associated Press that he is negotiating with Democrats who stymied passage of the bill by leaving the state for changes to the proposal that would get them to return. Walker said he won't compromise on the collective bargaining issue or anything that saves the state money.

"I can't take any of that off the table," he said.

More here.

03/03/2011 11:16 AM EST

New Research Numbers

HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal writes:

A new survey released this morning by the Pew Research Center is the first to provide a clear before-and-after snapshot of national attitudes toward labor unions in the wake of the ongoing protests and budget conflict in Wisconsin:

The public’s overall views of labor unions have changed little through the lengthy stalemate between Wisconsin’s governor and the state’s public employee unions over collective bargaining rights. About half (47%) say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions compared with 39% who have an unfavorable opinion. In early February, 45% expressed a favorable opinion of unions and 41% said they had an unfavorable view. However, liberal Democrats and people in union households are more likely to say they have a very favorable opinion of labor unions than they were just weeks ago.

See the Pew Research report for their complete analysis and full results by party, ideology and union membership subgroups. The Pew Center had also conducted an in-depth survey on unions in early February, just before Walker released the budget bill that sparked the protests.

03/02/2011 6:42 PM EST

Man Cited For Unplugging Fox Equipment

The City of Madison has filed a police report charging a 23-year-old man for "disorderly conduct" after he unplugged extension cords from a Fox News vehicle. Read the full report here.

03/02/2011 6:00 PM EST

West Virginia Approves Pay Hikes For Public Workers

Adding another state into the debate on public workers, West Virginia's Herald-Dispatch reports:

West Virginia's public employees would reap pay raises averaging 2 percent this year, with a second year of increases promised to teachers and school workers, under a proposal advanced Wednesday to the state Senate by the House.

But the 78-22 vote reflected GOP-led concerns that increasing state spending threatens a stable budgetary picture that has so far allowed West Virginia to avoid deficits and the painful choices they can force. Foes also contrasted the pay hikes with the state's continuing unemployment woes.

Full story here.

03/02/2011 5:44 PM EST

Update: Ohio Bill Would Jail Striking Librarians

More details have surfaced on Ohio's controversial SB 5, which just passed the state senate.

WSJ reports:

Senate Bill 5 would prohibit public-employee unions representing teachers, librarians, toll collectors and others from bargaining over health benefits, pensions and working conditions. Under the bill, unions could still negotiate wages, but striking would be prohibited for all public workers, taking away a major bargaining chip. Workers could face a fine of up to $1,000, or 30 days in jail, if they go on strike.

A Twitter campaign, #standupOH, has already mounted. As user @escapetochengdu tweeted, "The bill that just passed Ohio Senate allows the government to jail striking librarians for 30 days. Despicable."

Read the whole Wall Street Journal story here.

03/02/2011 5:25 PM EST

Ohio Senate Passes Controversial Anti-Union Bill

The bill put forth by an Ohio panel earlier today has passed the state senate, TPM reports:

The Ohio State Senate just passed the controversial SB 5, aimed a limiting unionized state employees' ability to collectively bargain or go on strike.

In an indication of how divisive the legislation is in the Buckeye State, the final vote in the Senate was 17-16.

Gov. John Kasich (R) has endorsed the measure and is expected to sign it when it reaches his desk.

Full story here.

03/02/2011 5:18 PM EST

'Runaway Senator' Tourism Campaign Goes Viral

A tourism campaign leveraging the Wisconsin senators who fled to Rockford, Illinois has gone viral. The push, "Hide Away In Rockford," hawks "collectively bargained" rates to some of the town's best tourist attractions.

“Unlike Wisconsin’s state senators, this video isn’t low key; it’s been a real runaway hit," said Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) President/CEO John Groh of the campaign's success.

Watch the promotional video here.

03/02/2011 4:48 PM EST

Polls: Polarized Wisconsin Leans Toward Unions

HuffPost's resident pollster Mark Blumenthal reports:

WASHINGTON -- A automated telephone poll conducted this week in Wisconsin by the Democratic-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) largely confirms other recent polls showing public support for collective bargaining rights for unions and, by a narrow margin, more opposition than support for the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker (R). Some caution is in order, however, about several vote preference questions included in the same survey.

Despite the ongoing coverage and national interest in the controversy, all of the opinion surveys taken within Wisconsin so far have had sponsors with partisan ties, and each has taken a different approach to the questions asked. Where their questions have been similar, however, we can begin to compare the results.

Read more here.