MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a measure curbing most collective-bargaining rights for public employees.
Walker, 43, a first-term Republican, acted today less than 24 hours after the state Assembly gave final approval, capping three weeks of protests at the Capitol. He also rescinded a warning to unions that he would fire 1,500 state workers, according to a news release. The governor said the bill’s passage ended the need to cut the workforce.
The measure, which exempts police and firefighters, requires annual recertification votes for union representation and makes the payment of dues voluntary. State workers will contribute 5.8 percent of their salary toward pensions and pay 12.6 percent of their health-insurance costs.
“We heard from the public they wanted it passed and moved forward and get refocused on creating jobs,” Walker said today on CNBC. “It protects middle-class jobs and protects middle-class taxpayers, and ultimately makes the government work better.”
Democrats and organized labor called the bill an attack on workers. Groups of protesters marched around the Capitol and chanted inside hours before Walker's formal bill-signing in his office this afternoon.
When the measure passed the Assembly yesterday 53-42, the spectators’ gallery erupted with people shaking their fists and chanting, “Shame, shame, shame.”
Demonstrations continued today inside and outside the Capitol.
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