Wisconsin Labor Fight Continues

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 5:20pm

Wisconsin Democrats move to prevent vote that would strip public employees of bargaining powers.

For a fourth straight day, protesters converged on the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison, joined by teachers whose "sick-out" Friday resulted in classes being canceled across the state.

They're speaking out about Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut spending by cutting out collective bargaining rights for many state workers, as well as requiring them to pay more for their pension and health care.

"It's a time when we have to ask for modest requests from our workers to avoid layoffs," Walker argues.

The workers say the governors plan does more harm to students than to those who teach them.

"It's trying to weaken the people who are the backbone of the state," says teacher Reggie Williams.

Democrats in the State Senate have sided with the employees and are boycotting a vote on the governor's legislation, even crossing over into Illinois to avoid a constitutional requirement to vote.

Senator John Erpenbach accused the governor of having an ulterior motive during his appearance on MSNBC Friday morning.

"This is about what the governor is trying to do by busting unions and strip everyone of the basic rights of collective bargaining," Erpenbach said.

The governor's supporters say something has to give.

"A lot of our budget problems are caused by the most generous public employee pensions in the country," says State Senator Glenn Grothman.

The Democratic state senators who have fled to Illinois have vowed to stay there at least until Saturday in an effort to derail Governor Walker's legislation.

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