Wis. Senate Cuts Union's Bargaining Rights

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Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill Thursday taking away public workers' collective bargaining rights, swiftly advancing the legislation toward GOP Gov. Scott Walker's desk.

The bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly by a 53-42 vote.  Four Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the legislation.

Wednesday night, Wisconsin Senate Republicans ended the weeks-long standoff over the union rights bill after they discovered a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats who were hiding out to delay the vote.

The measure forbids most government workers from collectively bargaining for wage increases beyond the rate of inflation -- unless approved by referendum.

Democratic Rep. Peter Barc protested the move in a dramatic confrontation.

"This is a violation of the open meetings law," he said. "You're not allowing amendments and that is wrong. This is a violation of the law. This is not just a rule. This is the law. We're adjourned. No, Mr. Chairman, this is a violation."

Democratic senators hiding out in Illinois were furious about the vote.

"They just took a vote right over the top of one of their members who was trying to point out that it was an illegal meeting," said Sen. Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona.

After the vote, it became known to the public and protestors began pouring into the capitol in Madison. Some even spent the night.

However, Senate Chief Clerk Rob Marchant said the meeting was properly held. Also, Gov. Scott Walker, (R), praised the move.

"I applaud the legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government," Walker said.

Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos guideed the bill through the House, Thursday. He said the letter from Miller asking for more concessions convinced Republicans to move forward.

"We saw that the Senate Democrats were not sincere about trying to actually come back to Wisconsin," Vos said. "They were holding out for a win that was not sustainable, big labor bosses in Washington were dictating their actions."

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