The governor of Wisconsin has introduced a budget bill for the state that also strips public sector unions of most of their collective bargaining rights. Republican Governor Scott Walker says that the budget bill is necessary to fix the state’s deficit, but others accuse the governor of using the bill as a smokescreen for union busting.
The unions say they have agreed to the governor’s plan for public employees to contribute more of their earnings to pensions and health plans, but the governor won’t remove the part of the bill about taking away employees’ rights to negotiate those benefits in the future.
Since the bill was introduced, public sector employees and others in the state and across the country have been protesting the governor’s attempt to strip away collective bargaining rights. According to Reuters, some see the fight in Wisconsin as emblematic of a larger struggle in the U.S. between public sector unions and Big Business.
The 14 Democratic state senators left the state to deny the needed quorum for Republican senators to pass the bill. The governor’s office admitted to taking a prank call on Wednesday from Ian Murphy of Buffalo Beast who was posing as billionaire conservative donor David Koch of Koch Industries. According to Reuters, the Political Action Committee of Koch Industries, owned by Koch as his family, donated $43,000 to Walker’s campaign.
On the recorded call, Walker told “Koch” that he was planning to trick the Democrats into coming back to Wisconsin under the guise of be willing to negotiate. He said that once they were there, the Senate would call a recess and after the Democrats left the Senate chamber, the majority Republicans would pass the bill.
Prank call fallout stokes Wisconsin union fight (Reuters)