Turmoil In Wisconsin

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 4:29pm

Republicans vote to strip union rights; absent Democrats claim move is illegal.

An late vote in the Wisconsin State Assembly is expected to deal a blow to union rights this evening.

On Wednesday night Senate Republicans passed a measure stripping union bargaining rights for public employees.

It will also make those workers pay more into their pensions and healthcare.

Republicans passed it by removing the measures from the budget bill, which meant they wouldn't need the Democrats who had left the state three weeks ago in protest.

Republican Governor Scott Walker says the debate is over.

"It's about protecting the middle class and doing it in a way that avoids massive tax increases and massive layoffs," Walker said.

Democrats disagree.

"There's questions whether they violated Wisconsin's open meetings laws, and those are laws every one is Wisconsin takes very seriously," says Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach.

A number of states are trying to limit the power of public employee unions.

In Indianapolis an estimated 30,000 people rallied outside the state capital to protest similar measures being considered there.

Democrats in Wisconsin promise to continue the fight with petitions to recall Republican senators, and even talks of a worker strike.

The governor promises to sign the bill as soon as possible.

Democrats who left the state say they'll come back tonight or perhaps tomorrow.

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