Tags: wisconsin | walker | union

Wisconsin's Walker Vows No Compromise on Unions

Thursday, 03 Mar 2011 11:47 PM

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Thursday he will never compromise on the core of his plan to curb the rights of public sector unions and may prepare layoff notices for 1,500 state workers.

The Republican governor also said investors should buy the state's bonds precisely because he was taking a tough stance.

In an interview with Reuters Insider exactly two weeks after state Senate Democrats fled to Illinois to stall action on Walker's proposal, he said public sector unions must be reined in to allow local governments to cut costs.

Earlier Thursday, Walker told reporters that unless the Democrats returned, he would begin preparing layoff notices for 1,500 state workers by the end of this week in order to achieve necessary budget savings.

In the interview, Walker said: "I want to be different. I want to be unique. I want to be an innovator here and give my local governments the ability to manage their own budgets. On that part, we can't compromise."

Walker said he sees room to talk with opposition Democrats on "the process." He did not specify what that meant, but talks were reported to be under way with the 14 Democrats who departed the state.

News reports said the Democrats were seeking minor modifications to Walker's proposal on workplace safety and recertification of unions in exchange for the senators returning to Wisconsin.

 

'BREAK FREE'

The governor said he has instructed senior Republican lawmakers and his inner circle to reach out to "some of the more reasonable" Democratic members of the state Senate.

"Unfortunately, they go back to their caucus, and extremists in their caucus pull them back to Illinois. We need to find a way for them to break free of that and ultimately come back to the capital," Walker said.

Republicans need just one Democratic senator to return in order to reach the quorum required for a floor vote on the proposal, which already has been passed by the state Assembly.

Walker's proposal has sparked a major confrontation with organized labor and the largest protests in Wisconsin since the Vietnam War. At least 70,000 people marched in Madison last Saturday to demand he withdraw his union plan.

Wisconsin is one of several U.S. states in which Republicans are seeking to strip rights from unions representing public workers including teachers. The Wisconsin plan exempts police and firefighters but proposals elsewhere do not.

The Wisconsin union proposal would allow collective bargaining on wage levels only up to the rate of inflation, require rank-and-file members to vote to recertify their union representation every year, and require union members to assume more of the cost of their health insurance and pension plans.

Walker showed no signs in the interview of backing down. He said investors should buy Wisconsin debt because its pension system is fully funded and his budget proposal would lower the state's structural deficit 90 percent by the end of fiscal 2013. This contrasted favorably with states such as Illinois and California, he said.

"We made the tough decisions to make the point to the investor that while it was tough doing it, we actually had the courage of our convictions," Walker said. "This is exactly the place you want to invest in because it is rock solid. There's nothing that is going to shake us."

Asked about the delay in refinancing the state's debt that is tied to the union dispute, Walker said he was "cautiously optimistic" that time remained to resurrect the restructuring plan.

"If they (Democrats) came back tomorrow, for example, we'd still try and see if we could talk to our bank and see if we could push this (refinancing) forward because its much better than losing $165 million in savings," he said.

(Writing by Greg McCune, editing by Steve Gorman)

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
2Share
InsideCover
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Thursday he will never compromise on the core of his plan to curb the rights of public sector unions and may prepare layoff notices for 1,500 state workers. The Republican governor also said investors should buy the state's bonds...
wisconsin,walker,union,
628
2011-47-03
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved