A bitter fight between public sector employees represented by unions in Wisconsin and the state’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, has been causing huge protests in the state over the past two weeks, protests that have spread across the nation. Walker and legislative Democrats are in a standoff over Walker’s proposed budget bill, which also strips public sector unions of most of their collective bargaining rights.
The budget bill passed the Republican-majority Wisconsin Assembly, but all fourteen Senate Democrats left the state to force a no-vote on the bill. The Senate needs a quorum of at least twenty to pass a bill and the loss of the Democrats left the Senate Chambers with just nineteen lawmakers.
Now, according to Reuters, the Wisconsin State Employees Union (WSEU) has filed a complaint with the state employment commission. The WSEU accuses Walker of unfair labor practices for refusing to bargain with the unions and instead choosing to “dictate terms.” The complaint was filed with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
Walker has said that the current agreement between the unions and the state will not be extended after March 12. The WSEU wants the employment commission to extend the contract until the disagreement is resolved and to require the state to bargain with the unions to resolve the disagreement.
According to Reuters, last Saturday, protests in Wisconsin’s capital of Madison drew 70,000 people, which made it the largest protest in the city since the Vietnam War.
Wisconsin union charges governor with unfair labor practices (Reuters)