Standoff Continues in Wisconsin

The 14 Democratic state senators who fled Wisconsin to thwart the passage of a draconian anti-union have no plans to return.

On Sunday night, a Wall Street Journal blog reported that the senators planned to return soon. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly found it odd that the piece didn’t contain any direct quotes from the exiled Democrats. The claim that the Democrats were planning to return rested on a paraphrase of what State Sen. Mike Miller said about the Democrats coming back. Miller says the Journal misconstrued his remarks and that the Dems are only coming back “when collective bargaining is off the table.”

It would be an odd time for Democrats to return. Republican governor Scott Walker has offered them zero concessions. Furthermore, as Benen observes, Walker’s popularity is plummeting. The latest poll by the Wisconsin Research Institute puts the governor’s approval rating at 43%, with 53% disapproving. A majority of respondents had favorable opinions of state Senate Democrats, public employee unions, and teachers’ unions.

Benen writes:

The significance of these polls can’t be overstated — they stiffen Democratic spines, while making Republicans increasingly nervous about standing behind an unpopular governor with an unpopular plan.

In YES! Magazine, Amy B. Dean explains why every American should care about the situation in Wisconsin. The collective bargaining rights of public employees are the central issue in this standoff. Walker is testing a radical new approach to unions and several other Republican governors are poised to follow his model if he succeeds. It is naive to assume that the war on unions will end with the public sector.

Jobs gap

Writing at The Nation, Chris Hayes explains why Washington doesn’t care about jobs. Hayes argues that Washington elites are insulated from the toll of unemployment by class and geography. The jobless rate for workers with college degrees is only 4.2%, which is less than half of the official unemployment rate of 9% and a quarter of the 16.1% underemployment rate. (The underemployment rate counts both the jobless who are still looking for work and those who have given up and left the labor force.) Furthermore, Hayes notes, the unemployment rate in greater Washington, D.C. is only 5.7%, which is lower than that of any other major city in America. He writes:

What these two numbers add up to is a governing elite that is profoundly alienated from the lived experiences of the millions of Americans who are barely surviving the ravages of the Great Recession. As much as the pernicious influence of big money and the plutocrats’ pseudo-obsession with budget deficits, it is this social distance between decision-makers and citizens that explains the almost surreal detachment of the current Washington political conversation from the economic realities working-class, middle-class and poor people face.

Even as the overall unemployment rate falls, economic recovery proves elusive for many workers of color, Shani O. Hilton reports at The February jobs report shows that the economy added 192,000 jobs, with overall unemployment falling by a tenth of a percentage point, bringing joblessness to its lowest rate since 2009. However, the unemployment rates for black and Hispanic workers remained fixed in February, at 15.3% and 11.6%, respectively.

Hilton notes that even if the economy were to add 200,000 jobs a month, it would take three years to bring general employment up to pre-recession levels.

Public innovation

The stereotype is that the private sector drives innovation. However, as Monica Potts reports in The American Prospect, industry’s well-deserved reputation for innovation is built on a foundation of publicly funded basic research. Conservatives often argue that the private sector would pick up the slack if public funding for basic research were reduced. Potts argues that public funding for basic research is essential because companies will naturally gravitate towards research that has an immediate payoff, instead of investing in cultivating deeper scientific understanding through basic research.


Take Action: Sign the petition against Governer Walker’s attack on Wisconsin unions.

Related Stories:

Wisconsin 14 to Remain AWOL

Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.4%: Sign of a Turnaround?

Protest in Wisconsin — Get Some Pizza!


This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

Photo courtesy of WxMom via flickr.
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Brian F.
Brian F7 years ago

They better not come back. The first democrat to come back will be forced to stand by as Walker and the republicans destroy the unions. Then the battle is lost. To win this battle, we must deny Walker the opportunity he so desperately needs to destroy the unions and create a corporate dictatorship in Wisconsin. All 14 must stay safely out of state. We must continue to force the issue about repealing all the republicans in Wisconsin and impeaching the disgraced scumbag liar Walker.

Steve R.
Steve R7 years ago

Well gosh darn it if those Republicans in Wisconsin didn't find a way round the 14 deserters - and pass the legislation without them!

Okay Dems - all finished now - you can slink back to Madison and face your constituents.

One less FORCED UNIONISM state! A dozen or so to go....

Janet K.
Janet K7 years ago

I support the Wisconsin 14 and all the brave folks who stand with them. Stop the GOP Taliban!

Peter S.
Peter S7 years ago

As the nation is watching Wisconsin others states with newly elected Republican Governors (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana to name a few) are passing laws that will remove collective bargaining from state employees. We need to keep a watch out and stop these other states along with Wisconsin.

Last night on the Racheal Maddow show she exposed Michigan and their new Governor Rick Snyder who has proposed a new law that will allow the Governor to appoint Emergency Managers in cities that are in financial problems and will give the Managers the power to end existing contracts, take over pension plans, and reorganize departments. All in the name of saving money.

The Governor can even put in corporations as the managers of the towns. Welcome to KOCH BROTHERS Michigan.

We need to extend our focus beyond Wisconsin and look at the rest of the Midwest where it seems that the Republicans who bearly won election last November are changing all the rules concerning state employees and their RIGHTS to collectively bargain.

Sound Mind
Ronald E7 years ago

Charlann K, pull your head out. You are so clueless I am surprised you can actually string enough words together to make a sentence - or did you get help with that from your neighbor's 4th grader?

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

wish the trolls would just leave.............

Dale G.
Past Member 7 years ago

... to enslave one social group by another social group will cause a rebellion. Do not allow this empowerment. IT IS TIME TO STAND UP AND FIGHT ... STOP THIS NOW.

This type of greed is the type that will allow more devastation to our planet. To seek wealth with hands of destruction is ludicrous. To work for these companies for the sake of employment is a hypocrisy. It is time to educate oneself and make a stand ... which side of the fence do you really stand???

We have reached a point of unity do we save or deplete the resources that can no longer be replenished?

We need to stop corporate take over ... this recession has hit only one of the social classes as it feeds another.

Sarah B.
Sarah B7 years ago

Charlann, if the governor knows what he was elected to do and is doing it, why was this not a part of his original campaign and why are the majority of his constituents against him on it?
We'll see how right you are about his fulfilling the will of the voters when he and his fellow legislators get recalled.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm7 years ago

Part 2

We never thought the government would attack its own citizenry like they are now. See we had anti trust laws to keep the corporations from ruling the country. It wouldn't let them get big enough to hurt the country. WELL it turns out they got rid of the anti trust laws too while no one was paying attention.
And here we sit. Its almost impossible TO fight them now. hell they wrote the health care bill using their HUGE lobby group on K street. They truly ARE to big and too international to control now. No one can get elected without their money anymore.
We will never see campaign laws changed. The corporate sponsors will never let that happen. They have the government right where they want it. Under their thumbs.

Hell they have been breaking the unions for decades while we were not paying attention. I am glad we ARE finally paying attention but I am not sure it will do any good anymore.

Little by little over the last 30 or 40 years they have been dragging us closer to what we never ever thought could happen in this country. We are getting sucked into the same thing Europe did so long ago.

Fascism. The wedding of Corporate interests with government to the detriment of the citizenry.

And they are accomplishing it much easier than anyone thought. The way they are accomplishing it so easily is because they now have us hating EACH OTHER instead of watching THEM and what they are doing.
Wake up people. Stop hating each other.

Silvia G.
Silvia G7 years ago

Thank you!