Wisconsin Standoff Continues as Governor Warns of Layoffs
Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin warns that thousands of state workers will be laid off as the standoff between him and the Senate Democrats over the spending cuts continues. The Democrats and the protesters oppose the part of the bill that strips public workers of their right to collective bargaining.
The governor said that he would lay off 1,500 workers if the Senate Democrats continue with their hiding and prevent a quorum required for a vote. The Senate Republicans already voted on Thursday to hold the Democrats in contempt and subpoena them back to the Capitol.
The protest against the legislation is already on its third week, with tens of thousands of union workers and supporters in attendance. The state police managed to clear demonstrators from the Capitol on Thursday after it was ordered by a judge to close the building during non-business hours.
The protesters left the Capitol peacefully but promised they’ll be back the next day. The union supporters said that the state should grant more access to the Capitol next week. At present they feel that the state unconstitutionally restricted access to the building since Monday.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller confirmed that there are talks with Walker but he stated that no compromise has been made. Statewide teachers’ union and state workers unions said that they agree with cuts on their benefits but they should retain their rights for collective bargaining.