Walker readies layoff plan

by
March 4, 2011

By JENNIFER EPSTEIN, Politico

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker plans to send layoff warnings to 1,500 state workers on Friday if his budget bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions continues to be blocked in the state Senate.

Unless at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats who have protested the bill from across state lines in Illinois returns to the capitol in Madison, Walker said Thursday, he will break the nearly three-week standoff and issue layoffs.

Meanwhile, the protesters who had camped out in the capitol for 17 nights were ordered out of the building on Thursday by a judge. And the Democrats were held in contempt for refusing to return to the Senate chamber.

“Even today I hold out some hope that this can be resolved by the Senate coming back,” Walker told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Thursday. “But by the end of the day tomorrow, we have a legal and a moral obligation to start forewarning people.”

“I pushed it off as long as I could because I do not want to have layoffs,” Walker said in an interview with The Associated Press. But with the union legislation stalled, he has no choice, he said, because the state needs the $30 million in savings that Republicans contend would come from the bill. The unions and Democrats see the bill as an effort to limit unions’ clout in the state and not really an effort to save money.

The layoffs won’t take effect for 31 days, so if Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal by then, any real job losses could be averted. All state workers other than those at prisons, hospitals and other essential facilities would be vulnerable.

Walker said his administration is in talks with state Senate Democrats, but told the AP he is unwilling to sacrifice on his proposal to limit collective bargaining for public unions or on any other measure that saves the state money.

“I can’t take any of that off the table,” he said. “We cannot tear apart this budget. We cannot put this burden on local governments. But if there are other ways they are willing to work with us to find a pathway back, I think that’s what people want.”

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller confirmed that Democrats were in talks with Walker but indicated that they had not made much progress in negotiations.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50657.html#ixzz1FdP9kQrJ

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