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DNC Chair Kaine on the Wisconsin Legislature’s Vote to Take Away Public Workers’ Collective Bargaining Rights

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 Washington, DC – Last night, without public notice, Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate used extraordinary parliamentary maneuvers to separate a bill that takes away public workers’ bargaining rights in that state from related budgetary measures, enabling them to pass that bill solely with Republican votes. The GOP-dominated Wisconsin Assembly followed suit today, sending the purely partisan bill, which eliminates rights that public employees in Wisconsin have had for decades without addressing Wisconsin’s fiscal issues, to Republican Governor Scott Walker’s desk.

In response, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine said: “The decision by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature to use procedural gimmicks and a straight partisan vote to press on with legislation that would take away collective bargaining rights held by Wisconsin public employees for over 50 years is contrary to the state’s political traditions, is punitive in nature, and does nothing to address the budget issues that he and his fellow Republicans claimed were at the heart of this legislative dispute. “Villainizing public sector workers or other hard working Americans isn’t going to get us any closer to addressing the budget issues facing our states or the country as a whole and does nothing to lay the foundation for a more prosperous future. “In these tough budget times everyone needs to share in the sacrifices necessary to bring budgets into balance and to spend taxpayer resources wisely and leaders of both parties have to come together to find common ground. It’s very disappointing that Republicans are preventing that from happening in Wisconsin.

2 thoughts on “DNC Chair Kaine on the Wisconsin Legislature’s Vote to Take Away Public Workers’ Collective Bargaining Rights”

  1. And “without public notice”?

    Apparently, you haven’t been watching the news for the last three weeks. Or checked your e-mail for the talking points memorandum.

  2. Uh, they’re not “rights”; they’re powers.

    The notion that “rights” are at issue is simply silly. The Supreme Court has plainly held that there is no Federal constitutional “right” to monopoly bargaining (unions use the euphemism “collective bargaining,” but “collective” bargaining does not require the monopoly enjoyed by most private- and public-sector unions in the United States). Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Emp., Local 1315, 441 U.S. 463, 465 & n.2 (1979) (“the First Amendment does not impose any affirmative obligation on the government to listen, to respond or, in this context, to recognize the association and bargain with it”) (per curiam). Precedent in the Seventh Circuit to the same effect was relied upon and cited with approval in Smith. Hanover Township Federation of Teachers v. Hanover Community School Corp., 457 F.2d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1972), quoting Indianapolis Education Assn. v. Lewallen, 72 LRRM 2071, 2072 (7th Cir. 1969) (“‘there is no constitutional duty to bargain collectively with an exclusive bargaining agent’”).

    Most of the rest of Kaine’s statement is equally silly, and simply political posturing. What happened in Wisconsin is that a loyal Democrat constituency lost their special PRIVILEGES through the political process. It is no more and no less than precisely that.

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