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Wisconsin Protests: Cut State Workers' Union?

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By Jason Beahm on February 18, 2011 5:46 AM

Things are getting heavy in Wisconsin. The state's Republican-dominated Legislature is prepared to vote to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees. The measure has sparked Wisconsin state workers to protest.

The measure was so controversial that all 14 Senate Democrats boycotted the vote on a controversial bill and left the state, Fox News reports. The Wisconsin protests have also led many of the schools throughout the state to close for the second day in a row. The closures came after the state teachers' union called on members to join thousands of protesters in Madison.

"This is not about protecting our pay and benefits. It is about our right to collectively bargain," teacher's union President Mary Bell said, Reuters reports.

Gov. Scott Walker supports the measure, saying that it would, "strip government unions of most bargaining rights, a move he argues would help bring public sector benefits in line with the private sector," NPR reports.

So why would the Wisconsin Senate Democrats leave the state at such a crucial time? It turns out that it is a political tactic. At least one Democrat needs to be present before a vote can be taken, the Associated Press reports.

"Today, they checked out, and I'm not sure where they're at ... This is the ultimate shutdown, what we're seeing today," Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, USA Today reports. So where do the Wisconsin protests go from here? Will the Democratic tactic work? Will a compromise be reached?

Stay tuned to find out. 

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