16 Wisconsin lawmakers skip vote on public-worker bill
Protesters fill the rotunda of Wisconsin's state capitol in Madison on Thursday.
February 17th, 2011
03:27 PM ET

16 Wisconsin lawmakers skip vote on public-worker bill

Sixteen Wisconsin state senators - 14 of them Democrats - did not appear at the capitol on Thursday for a scheduled vote on a bill that would strip some public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights and increase their contributions for benefits, according to Senate Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald and Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesperson Graeme Zielinski.

The bill cleared the Joint Finance Committee Wednesday night on a 12-4 vote and was intended to move onto the state Senate Thursday for a vote, but the absence of so many senators left that vote schedule in question.

It is not clear where the absent lawmakers are.

One of the missing legislators, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, declined to say whether the missing group left the state, but said "we are located away from the state capitol in a secure place."

Explaining why he was staying away, Miller said: "It's the governor's job to be a leader of a state and to engage the interested parties in any kind of dramatic legislation. He failed to do that. He failed to ever contact any of the interested parties to work with our party. He's ramming this through in such a short time. It's the governor who failed to do his job."

"This was being fast-tracked. And we said, 'This is too fast.' Citizens won't stand for it. We're going to make sure that this bill has an opportunity for people to understand what's in it," Miller said.

About 10,000 people rallied against the proposal at the capitol on Wednesday, and many teachers protesting the bill called in sick on Thursday.

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soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    Last year my health benefits went
    from 1074yrly w/a copay
    to 4104 with a 1200 deductible

    I did not have collective bargaining. Our company needed to make cuts & I still have a job. State workers need to get in touch with reality.

    February 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. mann

    Thank god for unions. WE WILL NEED THEM TO HELP STAND up for us against those things in the white house tea baggers and big corps.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mann

    Enough is enough!! our cup is running over. THANKS UNIONS

    February 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mann

    @eocastdude This is not Obama'4 fault. this is a spillover from BUSH and the replubican. 8 years of it.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Patrick

    Why doesn't anyone address what is really going on. We wouldn't tax the rich so the only thing left is to tax the poor. To solve social security all we have to do is tax all income even the rich over 100,000 on and not let millionaires collect. It was supposed to be a safety net for the poorer of the country.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mike L

    The 16 missing legislators are cowards. My hat goes off to the Wisconsin voters, the Republicans who voted for fiscal responsibility and, of course, the governor. Stick to your guns, the country is watching and hoping you will
    prevail.
    I pray that Massachusetts may see the light too and curb the unfunded pensions, exorbitant benefits,etc, that
    are now enjoyed by public sector union employees.

    February 18, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Holding on by a thread

    I believe in unions and paying fair share but not stripping the unions of the collective barganing. Perhaps all the REPUBLICANS should be STRIPPED of all their perks, and pay 60% of their earnings to the massive outstanding bill. They do not need to get rich or richer off the POOR n MIDDLE CLASS folks! MOST work very hard in Wisconsin, pay what we have to pay n more, n yet the mojority of us SUFFER the most. What makes that right??? ALL CURRENT REPUBLICANS NEED TO BE REMOVED AND START FRESH! Thank God the DEMOCRATS ARE STANDING UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT!

    February 18, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Pam

    I was visiting friends in Moran, WY just outside of the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone about 5 years ago. The ranchers had issues back then with the wolves. The one thing people do not realize is that when wolves get into a pack there are no predators capable of stopping them from killing whatever they want. Man is the only predator for a wolf pack. The number to the packs are sometimes greater than 25. See if anyone could stop them from killing whatever they want, even humans. The pack sizes need to be controlled otherwise the rest of the animal populations will be eliminated. We use to go to the Tetons to see the moose. They are no longer around like they use to be because of the wolves. Man is the only one who can remotely control the wolf pack sizes.

    February 18, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Pubali Batash

    Many people say that this plan is much needed to help pay for the deficit, I strongly disagree. Jim Doyle, the governor before Walker, reduced the deficit from 6 billion to 3 billion without such a bill. Walker doesn't need to do this. The latest video clips from TMZ http://fms.nu/ht8PXC I get the latest what happen. It will be helpful for them who want to keep in touch with updates always like me

    February 18, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. wilfredo pagan

    Parents, "Strictly Parents" of the educational school enviornment need to stand up and be in front of the line and respectfully express that we will not continue to accept the dictorship and abuse of power by indivinduals who are appointed by us. There actions are completely contridictions to the promises that were made by them and now they are jepordizing us. These actions is not only hurting our childrens' opportunity to a much better future, but they are also, breaking down our community in all states and through out this country. We must stand together and strongly express our common concern to those higher up In the federal government, so that some of these people, if not all, can be held accountable for their actions in order for us to stop these wrongful decisions. Our childrens academic education enviornment need the protection of the parents right to direct the direction of their childrens education. We must stand up as one community and fully engage our Parental responsibility and legal rights. We will win, if we believe and do what is right ! Wisconsin teachers go to work and get paid, while parents excersie their legal rights to home schooling. Teachers come together and think about it, you need to be appreciated. you have to get paid by law regardless whether children attend or not. That sounds like a plan!

    February 19, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. MD Teacher

    Thank You Democrats and Republicans that are backing up the union workers. Those people here that are making these false allegations that teachers are paid a lot are seriously wrong. Those that try to make a hypothetical figure by adding what it could be with it can be this are definitely smoking a pipe. Teachers are not paid well until they hit their tenth year of service and let alone that they have to pay educational loans and other factors for a career they chose to be in. GO UNIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!! It gives rights to those that are not seen by most for what they do; Saving a Live physically, mentally,etc... Teachers have to do things in order to keep their jobs that requires money being spent out of their pockets in order to have their certification renewed. I assume same goes to other career fields that are unionized. Shame on the ignorant people here that are saying teachers make a lot of money. Have you seen what teachers have to go through. We do not train students we TEACH students and that has been difficult when we can't focus all of our energy on them because of people like you hurting us along the way........ Those who back the move to end unionization do not have family,are selfish, probably self absorbed, pieces of crap that make places like Wisconsin stink.

    March 4, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
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