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States Attempt to Weaken Unions
For several weeks in February and March, tens of thousands of state employees and teachers staged protests in Madison, Wisconsin, camping out near the Capitol's rotunda. They were protesting Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut collective bargaining rights and workers' benefits in an effort to solve the state's budget problems. A similar battle was waged in Ohio as newly elected Republicans there championed a similar plan as a way to cut costs. In March, the Republican-controlled legislature approved Walker's plan. Ohio passed its bill in the same month.
On May 26, Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court granted a permanent injunction that voided Wisconsin's new law. Judge Sumi said Republicans in the state senate violated the state's open meetings law during their vote on March 9, when they failed to give at least two hours' notice to the public. In a November referendum, voters in Ohio repealed the law passed in March that restricted public workers' rights to bargain collectively. The bill was rejected in a landslide, 62% to 38%. Meanwhile, on Nov. 15 in Wisconsin a recall election movement began against Walker. If organizers gather 540,000 signatures in 60 days, Walker will have to run again for office. Even though Ohio and Wisconsin legislators pushed hard to weaken unions in 2011, voters and protesters pushed back even harder. It will be interesting to see if this battle has an impact on the 2012 general elections.
For more information on states:
- More from 2011 News of the Nation
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