Wisconsin Assembly Passes Bill On Union Rights

Posted By on February 25, 2011

Sounds like there was more then one way to play the game of hide and seek, but the Democrats weren’t paying attention while hiding!

MADISON, Wis. — Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly took significant action on their plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers, by passing the measure early Friday morning before sleep-deprived Democrats realized what was happening.

The vote ended three straight days of harsh debate in the Assembly. 

The Assembly’s vote sent the bill on to the Senate, but minority Democrats in that house have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote. No one knows when they will return from hiding. Republicans who control the chamber sent state troopers out looking for them at their homes on Thursday, but they turned up nothing.

With the Senate immobilized, Assembly Republicans decided to act and convened the chamber Tuesday morning. Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them. Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday.

Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer opened the roll and closed it within seconds. Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time. Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting “Shame!” and “Cowards!” The Republicans walked past them without responding. Democrats left the chamber stunned.

The protesters greeted them with a thundering chant of “Thank you!” Some Democrats teared up. Others hugged. “What a terrible, terrible day for Wisconsin,” said Rep. Jon Richards. “I am incensed. I am shocked.”

GOP leaders in the Assembly refused to speak with reporters, but earlier Friday morning Majority Leader Scott Suder warned Democrats that they had been given 59 hours to be heard and Republicans were ready to vote.

The governor has said that if the bill does not pass by Friday, the state will miss a deadline to refinance $165 million of debt and will be forced to start issuing layoff notices next week.

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