Justice Done In Wisconsin As Supreme Court Delivers Victory To Governor Walker
The battle which began in January when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took office and began the process of fixing the state's budget crisis by reining in the collective bargaining powers of the state's public employee unions was finally concluded Tuesday when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of Governor Walker delivering a major blow to Wisconsin's public employee unions.
Wisconsin has for months taken center stage in the much larger battle over union concessions and collective bargaining rights as states all across the country face budget shortfalls. Wisconsin began drawing national attention when Governor Scott Walker, who took the oath of office in early January, proposed a state budget on February 11 which sought union concessions to help repair the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Working closely with Republican state legislators, who have controlled both houses of Wisconsin's legislature since the 2010 midterm elections, Walker sought concessions from the unions that represent the state's public employees.
The public unions protested the budget austerity measures, but quickly conceded, accepting some of Walker's demands, agreeing for the first time to pay for a portion of the cost of their healthcare coverage and pension benefits. Walker pressed further, however, seeking an end to the collective bargaining powers Wisconsin's public employee unions have enjoyed for decades. This drew the attention of every union in the country, who claim collective bargaining as their right, and who view any reduction of collective bargaining powers as unequivocally unacceptable. Labor union across America joined the fray, with tens of thousands of union members descending on the Wisconsin capitol in protest of Walker's proposals.
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Despite well coordinated protests by national unions and mainstream media coverage which was sympathetic to the union cause in an effort to sway public opinion in support of union members, Walker escalated by proposing legislation which sought the end of collective bargaining for state employee unions. Nationwide, unions fought back, sending out calls for union members to come to Wisconsin to join the protest. Tens of thousands did just that, with the street protests in Wisconsin reaching their peak on February 26, when 70,000 to 100,000 union protesters, many from out of state, descended on the capitol in Madison.