On the heels of Ohio’s victory to restore collective bargaining rights, petitioners in Wisconsin began gathering signatures for a referendum earlier this week to recall Governor Scott Walker, the initiator of the law that eliminated collective bargaining. A grass-roots recall petition drive begins November 15, 2011.
Last Tuesday, Ohio voters reinstated collective bargaining rights in their state for public workers. This was a referendum in response to Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Ohio’s Republican governor, and has encouraged Wisconsin to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, who was successful in eliminating collective bargaining in that state.
Dramatic Events Leading to Passage of Law Eliminating Collective Bargaining
Earlier this year, Republican Governor Scott Walker initiated a bill curtailing collective bargaining in Wisconsin. This caused 14 legislators to leave the state, taking refuge in Illinois “temporarily” in order to avoid voting on the bill. This action received nationwide coverage, sparking a national outcry with the largest wave of legislator recall votes in that state's history.
After eventual passage of the bill, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, who was appointed by a Republican governor, said Republican state lawmakers who passed the law in March had violated the state's open meetings law in rushing the legislation through amid massive public protests at the state Capitol.
By June of this year, the decision was overturned by Wisconsin’s Supreme Court in a 4-3 vote stating that the judge had overstepped her authority when she voided the bill to remove collective bargaining rights from most public workers. The firefighters were exempted.
Political Divide in Wisconsin
The decision was considered a major victory for Republican Governor Scott Walker after a long and controversial battle that sparked protests in the state’s capitol and across the country; however, Ohio’s victory this week has ignited Wisconsin’s action to recall Governor Walker.
Many blame the political divide in Wisconsin on Governor Walker, whose policies, including the elimination of collective bargaining, are considered to be anti-worker, according to a Wisconsin news source.
Union representative John Spiegelhoff says people felt "a lot of shock about this rapid agenda that was being advanced that, again, was really anti-worker agenda."
Walker admits he did make some mistakes and should have explained his positions better. But the governor says his reforms were necessary to save the state money.
Newsline 9 in Wisconsin asked Facebook friends, What can be done to mend the divide in Wisconsin?
Chris Leslie says it starts by respecting the fact that "We each have a legitimate interest in the well-being of Wisconsin."
Janet Skortz adds, "Everyone in this state must understand that we are broke."
Paula Hersant-Yarie put it bluntly, "Turn off Fox News."
Eric Giordano, UWMC political science professor, says he thinks a recall election will happen. But he hopes it will help Wisconsin heal—no matter who wins.
Giordano says Wisconsin needs to learn how to compromise again.
"Compromise is not a dirty word. In fact, it really is a necessity in politics," he says.
Collective bargaining rights is the bedrock of unions and the encompassing philosophy empowering workers to have safe working conditions, fair wages and a communal voice for democratic representation.
Information on Petitions for Recall
Recall petitions will be available for signature. Signers can donate nonperishable food items to donate to a local food pantry, according to a Wisconsin online news source.
For more information, contact Barb Gillespie at 387-4898 or Dave Wille at 384-8764 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations for office and recall expenses can be sent to Central Wisconsin for Democracy, M333 Felton Lane, Marshfield, WI 54449.