Both Sides Begin Efforts for Recalls in Wisconsin
By MONICA DAVEYCHICAGO — The fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin remained at an impasse this weekend, even as its political fallout — in recall efforts of state legislators and dueling television commercials — grew larger.
Fourteen Senate Democrats, who left the state on Feb. 17 to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curtail bargaining and benefits for public workers, were said to have taken part in recent days in discussions with Republicans, but no progress was announced Saturday.
Even as they remained in Illinois (in order to avoid being returned by Wisconsin law enforcement officials to the Capitol), some of the Senate Democrats, who make up a minority in Madison, found themselves the focus of recall efforts, as did some Senate Republicans by forces opposed to Mr. Walker’s bill.
All told, more than a dozen senators were being singled out, chosen in part because of Wisconsin’s rules for recalls, which require selected lawmakers to have been in office for at least a year and call for thousands of voters’ signatures to be gathered in a matter of 60 days — a process that was under way with canvassing all weekend.
If enough signatures are gathered, a senator must run for election sooner than the end of his or her term.
With more Republican-controlled statehouses since last fall’s election and significant budget deficits expected in many states, the debate over collective bargaining rights and public workers has boiled over in recent weeks.
In Indiana, state lawmakers found themselves this weekend in a similar state of limbo. Most House Democrats left the state on Feb. 22 to prevent a quorum on legislation related to collective bargaining rights and education. Republicans, who control the legislature in Indiana, say that on Monday they will begin charging missing Democrats fines of $250 a day if they fail to reappear at the Capitol.
In Ohio, the Republican-dominated House is expected next week to pass legislation that would cut collective bargaining rights for public sector workers by banning strikes and placing the power of breaking labor impasses in the hands of local officials. The Senate passed the measure last week, and Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, is expected to sign it.