Wisconsin Court Halts Gov. Scott Walker’s Anti-Worker Law

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MARCH 26 UPDATE: Legislation that was pushed through the Senate in the dead of night in violation of the open meetings law was published Friday, despite a temporary restraining order barring publication. “This is another sign that the governor and legislature are in a desperate power grab to take away the voice of teachers, support staff, nurses, home health care workers and other public employees,” said Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell. “These tactics are not in the Wisconsin tradition of open government and do not represent the will of the people. From the start, our members agreed to increased financial contributions the governor said would balance the budget, but they have said it is wrong for government to silence their voices in the schools. Yet, the governor and Legislature refuse to listen. Now, the same disregard is being shown to the rule of law.” A rally is being held at 1 p.m. in Madison today to protest the law.

By Cynthia McCabe

A judge on Friday morning ruled that the publication of the collective bargaining law that strips workers of their rights to bargain contracts must be halted, because its passage may have happened illegally.

According to Politico, Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order preventing the secretary of state from publishing the law until she can rule on the case. The matter came before her in a complaint by the Dane County district attorney on behalf of public officials who believe Republicans violated the state’s open-meeting law while maneuvering to get the law passed.

Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which represents 98,000 teachers and support professionals in the state, applauded the ruling:

The ruling will “halt implementation of the law designed to strip public employees of their voices in their schools. The vote on this bill violated state open meeting laws, and it also violated the public trust Wisconsinites have in their elected leaders.

“Wisconsin’s educators call upon the Legislature to take this as a clear signal that Wisconsinites will not tolerate backroom deals and political power plays when it comes to our public schools and other valued services.

“The Legislature should not move ahead with another vote on this wrongful bill, but instead take this as a chance to step back and listen to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who have said this extreme law hurts working families and destroys the traditions and values we hold in Wisconsin. It’s time for our elected leaders to do what’s right for Wisconsin voters versus advancing a political agenda.”

Throughout the past month, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin workers, families, students and supporters have thronged to Madison and towns around the state, protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to undercut decades of workers’ rights. This past Saturday, more than 100,000 rallied at the statehouse to protest the law’s passage on March 11.

What Sumi will examine is the late-night maneuvering by Republican backers of the law on the night of March 10 that led to it being signed into law by Walker the next day. They stripped from the bill all financial aspects, which they said allowed them to vote in absence of the 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators who left the state to prevent the anti-worker bill’s passage.

Even though the polls showed that a majority of Americans and the residents of Walker’s own state disagreed with him, he set in motion a set of technical procedural moves that helped ram through the unpopular bill.

“Its legality is dubious,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said after the law’s passage. “Its intent is mean spirited. It is perhaps the most grievous example of how democratic decision making should not take place. The governor and his legislative minions should be ashamed of what they’ve done.”

Reader Comments

  1. Scott Walker is an egregious example of a politician who refuses to listen. He represents all that democracy should never be . The recourse is to vote him out of office as soon as possible. Budgets will never be more important than people.

  2. Americans must stop our Democracy from becoming a Plutocracy, where corporations control us. When the Supreme Court made corporations a “person,” they made it possible for them to use their power (money) to influence (really, buy) an election and remove Democracy from “the people.”

    We cannot become powerless. Must we go through riots on the street again to regain our voice in government? Or can we now strongly unite and go after those that wish to hand over our country to corporate America?

    Once again Wisconsin must lead Americans to stop our Democracy from becoming a Plutocracy. Rise up on behalf of the American people against this tyranny. Convince your friends to join unions all over America. Then assure they all vote! You’ll be pleased to know there are many out here ready to regain our voice. Onward!

  3. In Michigan the school “funding crisis” has been created by our governor. The K-12 School Aid Fund gets most of it’s money from sales taxes and lottery profits. That fund was on track to have at least a 500 million dollar surplus for the next school year. The governor decided to lump community colleges and state universities into that fund, which has never been done. So now there’s not enough money, and the K-12 schools are being hit with massive cuts. It seems this was done primarily to force the teachers to make wage and benefit concessions. It certainly wasn’t done to help kids.

  4. I believe that Governor Scott Walker should be put in jail for comtemp of court, for violating the judges order, we the common citizens have to follow the courts rulings, like it or not

  5. I believe that Governor Scott Walker should be thrown in jail for comtempt of court for violation the judge order. The normal citizen would have follow the court orders, like or not

  6. And the fight is beginning in Pennsylvania. The governor has asked teachers to take a pay freeze but refuses to tax the gas wells that have sprouted everywhere. All school districts have funding cuts. State colleges also. Our kindergarten will be reduced or eliminated – it’s not mandated. That doesn’t help the students who have no real parents. Our teachers met as grade levels last week to brainstorm ways to reduce spending. Tomorrow the union meets as a whole to unite, discuss options, have proposals for the administration and school board to maintain the quality of our education programs, doing it on less money.
    Pennsylvania is the only gas producing state without a severance tax. He stated he feels they will pull up and leave the state. Okay, they’ve bought up every bit of available land in our county, neighboring counties. But now they will pull out and leave the gas and their investment? How stupid does he think we are? I wonder how much they contributed to his campaign?
    We are in for a long fight, but we cannot afford to give up.

  7. This is bigger than just state government. The governing officials of this country (national and state) want to change the way our system works. This was evident in November when Michigan put on the ballot the right to be able to change our state consitution (What’s next, the Constitution of the United States?). Fortunately, the people of Michigan were wise to vote against this. So now, they are trying it in secret. If we don’t stand united and fight against these injustices we will soon see this country change from a democracy to a dictatorship of the rich. Beware Americans! The government is no longer for the people, by the people. It is for themselves, and themselves only!

    1. Dina- the only thing you left out is that the government is for themselves- and the corporate bosses that fund their campaigns! Great comment- keep spreading the word!

  8. What about the parents? Students who have engaged parents —- really engaged parents who put in the extrodinary efffort it takes to monitor their children academically, socially, emotionally, etc. usually find that those children do well in school and will be OK. They do not play the blame game — blame the schools, the teachers, etc. Most parents who have raised sucessful children can see clearly the sacrifices that were made on their own personal time but that were well worth the effort. They did not just turn their kids over to the schools to raise for them as, unfortunately, schools have become substitute parents for many kids of every economic background. Teachers who are now the substitute parents become easy targets. They find themselves in a position to have to defend themselves daily on all fronts.

    Collective bargaining is not the reason for the woes of the United States. People no longer have jobs and can’t make their mortgage payments. Families are in crisis. Cities and towns and the states are losing revenue. Of course, now the states and districts look to see where they can make up the revenue and public workers, especially the teachers, become enemy number one. Whatever the issue be it local or state, it is easy to just blame a teacher.

    It is all about the kids? Superman? The last time I looked, he was a fictional character who would slip into a phone booth and instantaniously turn into something in reality he was not! I am a real teacher. Did we miss something here? Perhaps the monied CEOs, Wall Street top dogs, and those who make the decisions to move jobs abroad and pay slave wages to people who do not have a voice should send their kids to school in those developing economies. I’m sure their children would not be too thrilled. They would learn immediately that our Bill of Rights has absoutely no place in such societies.

    Collective bargaining and union protection is the one way that public sector workers can voice their concerns and affect change which will benifit everyone. We are not a totalitarian society– not yet anyway. All the stake holders, teachers, legislators, and even those CEO’s and Wall streeters, need to work together for the benefit of everyone here in AMERICA. The dubious law in Wisconson teaches us that for the Republican legislators there it is not “about the kids.” It is only about the money. They can’t go after the powerful CEO’s. Wall Street laughs! So therefore, “Maxwell’s silver hammer” has come down hard on the teachers. We are a very easy target —– so they think.

    1. You are so correct. As a teacher we see this all the time. The only parents that come to parent teacher conferences are those who children are doing well or are at least having some success. The only people that this would not hurt are the wealthy who traditionally spend more time with their children’s education as they know how important an education is.

      Kids will lose out as class sizes will be way too big and the ones getting all the attention will be the weaker students. The stronger students will not be challenged and the advanced classes will go away with down sizing. In our district, they are already making the first cuts and advanced placement classes are the first to go.

      The teachers do a great job. We are not 7:15-3:15 people. We put in all the extra time needed for the kids success and many of us coach for free. I get paid for a 40 hr week but put in about 60-70 hours easily. When I signed on, part of my salary was benefits. That is what makes the career competitive with public sector jobs. Since my wife is also a teacher we are on the same health plan so in actuality, I lost about $15,000 because I did not get the benefits and was not compensated with an equal value IRA like many public sector jobs do.

      Chris

  9. What is the first thing any totalitarian regime does to ensure control of the populace? They go after the teachers. Make no mistake, we are witnessing the beginning of the Republican grab for complete control of the U.S.. No teachers to dissent, no unions to support Democratic candidates. This is their strategy to take it all back. Funny how eight years of a Republican administration got us in the financial mess we have now, and nobody seems to remember that.

    During the Presidential primary in 2008, I was told by a superior who is a hard core Republican that the party asked them to re-register as Democrats and vote for Obama, because they thought he would not have a chance to win due to his race. Then they re-registerd as Republicans for the election. This is an example of the lengths they were willing to go to control American government. Thank God their plan backfired. This union-busting, teacher-bashing campaign is their new strategy to eventually win the White House. We have to get the people on our side and make this mean-spirited attack backfires too.

    1. Excellent commentary. Thank you! I’m an Ohio teacher with 24 years experience, and have been also saying that in order to dismantle our nation, just destroy the middle class and public education. A Democracy depends on these things, and is also meant to protect the minority, which right now is you and me! I believe that these would-be dictators planned this political climate, and count on the Republican voters to blindly follow the party. What is happening across our nation is an attempt to turn us into the Kingdom of the United States, or perhaps the Social REPUBLIC of America. Thanks again for your words.

    2. I’ve been following this issue because it might be a sign of new trends that might help address the fact that our country is running out of wealth (“money”) relatively speaking, by spending more that it produces; and the other countries of the world will one day (I’m afraid sooner rather than later) no longer lend us the money to keep buying from them.
      In this light, I see state governments overspending on their budgets similar to the Federal government perennial deficit spending at the core of the problem.
      Public employee salaries/pension costs are an important part of state budget deficits (by no means the only cause) just as the Federal government deficits have been put in such a deep hole by the bailout of the banks (which then give huge bonuses to executives that ran the bank into the ground). Both examples are overspending as a result of our elected officials of both political parties giving into special interest groups (does everyone think money grows on trees) to get reelected or a good job when leaving office – all life as we’ve known it in the US of A.
      Unfortunately, the post World War II era of American hegemony is coming to an end (as in no longer a superpower). It is an understatement to say we are no longer as wealthy a country as we once were; and I believe we are worse off than we think (as in the statistics are partly designed with a bias toward the cheerful)…and the shunning of the American $ by the rest of the world (because we’re overspending and creating paper dollars that hold less and less of their value) is growing until the point comes when few will lend us the money to cover our deficits….whether Federal or State of Wisconsin.

  10. First the darkness, then the night.
    The GOP is trying similar tactics in Tennessee. They seem to be taking their cues from some outside source. Just look who has been voted into power!

    Some of my favorite co-workers voted for these individuals who are seeking to extend the period to 5 years to obtain tenure. Our own democractic x-governor sold us out to get a few dollars from the Obama Administration for Race to the Top Just like Lamar Alexander did in the 1970’s when he started Merit pay for teachers. Studies show it jus doesn’t work but that doesn’t matter.

    Other teachers and legislators sit back and voice reservations about the GOP but are afraid to speak out. It is time for the lay person to rise up and remove these people from office. Recall them. Democracy is not rule by one or a few. It is time that teachers stop being the “whipping boy” for all of society’s problems.

  11. Of couse he called a “special session.” Of course Walker claims a fiscal emergency. The GOP uses fear and misinformation to threaten the middle class. Get educated people. This is not the first nor last time these tactics will occur. If the GOP can kill unions and reduce the average Wisconsinite’s ability to vote, guess which party claims the majority? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

  12. This is great news! It is a very small victory. Until the judge rules on this however, the war isn’t won. Everyone across the nation is watching this closely because they know what happened in Wisconsin could happen in their state. The only way we can beat this is to remain united!

  13. Funny how you can twist things. The temporary restraining order was ordered so she can look at the merits of the case.
    BTW, they were already in SPECIAL SESSION, which does NOT require a time notification! Like the coward Democrats hiding in Illinois would have come out of hiding anyway!

    1. You have mistaken the Dems. that left as cowards, when in reality it is Walker and the Republicans that are cowards. They are refusing to meet with any one ( Accept of course the Koch Brothers) and are doing things in the dead of night. They lie on national TV and radio, then when called on people have to go to court to get the truth out. Relook up the definition of coward I believe you will see what it really says. By the way thank a teacher for the fact that you can even read to look it up, or write to put this on line.

      Glen Perry

      1. Dont waste your breath Glen, The GOP sponsers propaganda banks where they pay fools like this to go everywhere they can online and spread BS and attack liberals so they can simulate mass following. Our biggest problem right now is we put a moderate republican in the white house who is posing as one of us, if Wisconsin didnt convince anyone of that I dont know what will. Obama did nothing to stop this, REALLY? Unions are a major contributer to the dems. Ever ask yourself why the right calls every move he makes socialist and with more intensity than ever. They dont want our suspicions stirring about Obamas loyalty thats why. Which if we really pay attention is crystal clear. Caved on Healthcare, wheres the public option? Caved on Wisconsin and every thing in between if you make less than 15k you will qualify for medicaid in 2014, Hell if you make that much you will die of starvation before any help arrives 3 years from now. Change came alright, we changed to secret GOP and we better wake up and stop feeding the fire from idiots like this guy who posts his scripted faux crap. Liberals Unite!!! When putzes like this post fascist dogma, ignore them and spread the word of truth before its too late.

      2. You are right, Glen. The Democrat senators showed more courage than anything I’ve seen in recent years – in order to stand for what was right and let the truth be known. The disruption to their lives, families and careers was not an easy thing to endure, by any means. And it is people like Walker and his court of jesters who are the true cowards in every sense…they lack the courage to negotiate, they lack the courage to tell the truth, they lack the courage to represent the citizens they were elected to serve. They cover this lack of courage with arrogance and a total disregard for decency and law. But cowardice won’t take them far…. at least not with the Americans who can think independently.

    2. Goergie Porgie pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry. When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away. The GOP is made up of cowards. Why pass an illegal measure in the middle of the night? You folks are rich and wrong!!!!

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