This is Communism.
Has anyone TAUGHT these “teachers” about Communism?
Walker notifies unions of layoffs, but gives Democrats 15 days to reverse move
March 4, 2011
Madison — Gov. Scott Walker notified unions Friday of impending layoffs if a budget-repair bill isn’t passed in the next 15 days, even as both Republicans and Democrats showed signs of moving from their entrenched positions as they try to break a stalemate that has lasted nearly three weeks.
Walker warned Thursday that he would issue the notices on Friday that would affect up to 1,500 state employees. The actual notices, however, did not spell out how many people could be laid off, and a spokesman for the governor said the layoffs could be reduced by employee retirements.
According to GOP sources familiar with talks on the bill, the discussions with Democratic senators holed up in Illinois include removing or changing a provision from Walker’s budget-repair bill that would limit unions’ bargaining over wages to the rate of inflation. The talks have also touched on the possibility of removing or changing a provision that would require workers to vote every year on whether their union would remain active or be decertified, the sources said.
The last provision especially is anathema to Democrats and unions, who say it could kill many labor groups. The sources asked not to be identified because they had no clearance to speak and because the talks were still delicate.
The Republican governor acknowledged Thursday that his administration was in talks with Democrats but declined to provide details. He also signaled for the first time in the budget crisis that he might be willing to make at least a marginal change to his budget-repair proposal.
The bill has been stalled since Feb. 17, when all 14 Senate Democrats left the state. Twenty senators must be present to pass spending bills, and Republicans have only 19 seats.
The budget-repair bill would require most public workers to pay more for their health care and pensions, eliminate most collective bargaining by their unions, and give the governor broad powers to reshape the state’s health care programs for the poor and elderly.
Unions have agreed to the concessions on their benefits, but the provisions taking away most collective bargaining have prompted sustained protests for over two weeks.
In a sign of the political stakes for the governor, a poll released Friday found a solid majority of likely voters in Wisconsin disapprove of Walker’s job performance.
In the Thursday interview, Walker said he remained firm on the core of his proposal but also acknowledged the provision forcing workers to vote every year on their unions’ status wouldn’t save local governments money.
“I’m not saying what’s on the table (in the talks), but, no, I don’t think that’s an issue that if someone were to look objectively and say, ‘Does that hurt local governments if that were altered in some way?’ (That) observation is prudent,” Walker said.
The governor said he didn’t want to give details on the talks out of fear that doing so could disrupt them.
Walker’s layoff notifications went to unions, and notifications to individual workers could come in 15 days. The actual layoffs would occur in early April.
Democrats have said layoffs are unnecessary and have shown no signs that the layoff threat is moving them.
Walker’s announcement also appears to give Democrats more time to reach a deal than the GOP governor has indicated in the past. He had insisted his budget-repair bill needed to pass this past week in order to avoid layoffs. But a news release from Walker Friday said layoffs might be avoided if the bill passes in the next 15 days.
One labor leader said Walker was bluffing.
“I think this is another one of these attempts on the part of the governor to intimidate people,” said Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, which represents blue-collar workers.
Scott Spector, a lobbyist for the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, said Walker isn’t acknowledging unions’ willingness to take reduced pension and health care benefits.
“Workers have made every single concession Scott Walker has asked for and yet he won’t take yes for an answer,” Spector said.
His union represents white-collar state workers. On Monday, AFT-Wisconsin filed an unfair labor complaint that asks the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to prevent Walker from implementing layoffs, arguing he hasn’t engaged in any labor negotiations.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said Walker will try to minimize layoffs and that sharply rising retirements could reduce the number of people receiving pink slips.
Retirement applications in the state’s retirement system in the first two months of the year totaled 1,624 – up 34% from 1,215 during the same period in 2010, according to the state Department of Employee Trust Funds. The retirement system includes state and local employees in Wisconsin except for those in the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.
In February alone, the number of applications rose 61%, the agency said.
During the week of Feb. 14, 2011, the agency received more than three times the number of requests for estimates of retirement annuities than the same week in 2010.
“We’re keeping our eyes on that,” Werwie said.
While Republicans have been in talks with the absent Democrats to bring them back, they have also tried to make staying away as difficult as possible. Republicans are withholding the Democrats’ paychecks and have threatened to fine Democrats $100 for missing each future session. On Thursday, Republicans found Democrats in contempt of the Senate and issued warrant-like orders for law enforcement to detain the Democrats.
Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) in a phone interview dismissed the layoff notices as a bluff and said the Senate’s contempt resolution was nothing more than a “political document.” Some attorneys have said the Republicans have no power to order the arrest of senators for refusing to show up at the Capitol.
“I think most of the (Democratic) senators realize this is just another bit of petty harassment by the Republicans,” he said.
The state constitution says lawmakers can be compelled to attend legislative sessions, but also grants them immunity from arrest unless they have committed crimes.
Risser said Democrats have differing views on when to return, but said they are united in making decisions together.
“The fourteen of us want to come back together,” he said.
New poll. The poll on Walker’s performance was released Friday by Rasmussen Reports, which surveyed 800 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll found that the governor received positive reviews from 43% of likely voters and negative reviews from 57% of voters statewide.
On Thursday, Walker said that he didn’t govern by polls. He said that he had overcome difficult political odds before, such as when as a GOP state lawmaker he won a special election to become executive of Milwaukee County, a Democratic stronghold.
“If I were concerned about polls, I would still be in the state Assembly,” Walker said.
Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel staff, reporting from Milwaukee, contributed to this report.