No let up in Wisconsin political standoff

February 21, 2011 4:20:35 PM PST
Neither side is backing down in the Wisconsin budget battle. Republican Governor Scott Walker wants to strip most state workers of the right to collective bargaining.

Gov. Walker said late Monday afternoon he won't negotiate over his plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from nearly every public employee.

Union members from the Chicago area went to Madison Monday to join protestors who oppose the plan.

Bus loads of union members from south of the state line spent the majority of the day supporting their Wisconsin counterparts. This, as the state's governor, Scott Walker, continued to hold firm, not only rejecting a compromise by lawmakers from his own party but also saying that he will not back off his proposal that basically eliminates collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Monday was another day of unrest at Wisconsin's state capitol as demonstrators continued to protest Governor Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

"We all deserve the right to bargain," Madison firefighter Rick Gee.

The protests continued for a seventh straight day with the help of organized labor. Members of Chicago's Letter Carriers Union and others traveled to Madison by bus to support workers' rights.

"Wisconsin is setting a precedent, and it's dangerous, and if we don't fight back here, it could spread everywhere," said Rae Wright, Chicago Federation of Labor.

The political showdown comes as the Wisconsin state struggles with a multibillion dollar deficit.

To fix that, Republican Governor Scott Walker says state workers need to pay more for benefits and accept cuts in their collective bargaining rights.

"Every time I try to do something sensible to balance our budget without laying people off, the union said, 'No, we don't want to make any changes. Go ahead, lay 400, 500 people off.' That's wrong and unacceptable," said Gov. Walker.

Walker also continues to criticize 14 Democratic senators who left town rather that vote on the measure.

That move denied the majority GOP a quorum to do anything.

"Let's do this the Wisconsin way, by sitting down face to face and compromising," said assistant majority leader State Rep. Donna Seidel, (D) Wisconsin.

Members of the Democratic 14 say they will return to Wisconsin when the governor is willing to negotiate with the teachers union.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state senate plan to go back to work without Democrats, but because they lack a quorum they will most likely be concentrating on non-fiscal matters until the stalemate is over.