The Midwestern fight over the power of unions continues: In Ohio, the senate passed a bill that would limit the bargaining power of public sector employees. Wisconsin Republicans want to fine lawmakers who've fled to prevent passage of a similar bill $100 a day, while Democrats are countering with a recall push against seven GOP senators. And in Indiana, House leaders met but came up with no agreement to bring back Democratic members who fled to Illinois to prevent a right-to-work bill from passing.
Four national polls show strong support for public sector unions, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes, with Americans saying the rollback of collective bargaining rights is unacceptable by a 2 to 1 margin, according to an NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll. And a significant number of workers belong to unions in these three states, The Wall Street Journal's Kris Maher and Amy Merrick report. In Ohio, 13.7 percent of workers are union, in Wisconsin, 14.2 percent, and in Indiana, 10.9 percent. But Republicans appear to believe they have a winning issue in the controversy. Large protests continue in each state's capital. An ad from the Republican National Committee accuses President Obama and his "union bosses" of blocking economic reform. The ad is on Madison and Milwaukee airwaves this week.
The state senate passed a bill to curb union power by a vote of 17 to 16, with six Republicans voting against it, Joe Guillen reports for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The large Republican majority in the House means the bill's passage is almost certain. The legislation would allow unions members to collectively bargain for higher wages, but not for health care or pensions. It also outlaws strikes--with jail time among the penalties for doing so. Unlike Wisconsin, the measure affects police and firefighters. Unions representing them are worried that they'd be unable to bargain for updated safety equipment, like bulletproof vests.
Republican state senators voted to fine absent lawmakers $100 a day. Democrats fled the state two weeks ago to prevent a vote on a bill limiting collective bargaining--that legislation requires a quorum, while the resolution imposing the fine doesn't. The fine appeared to only make it harder for the compromise, the Journal reports.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Democratic Party is capitalizing on a grassroots push to recall several Republican state senators, a tactic the party had been avoiding in the hopes of negotiating some concessions from the GOP. Supporting the recall "in essence signals that all bets are off," Sargent writes.
Leaders of both parties in the state House met in Indianapolis but reached no agreement to bring home the Democratic lawmakers who fled to Illinois a week ago to prevent the passage of a right-to-work bill.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has been eyeing a presidential run, but said he won't be able to launch such a campaign if the legislative session lasts too long. Hot Air's Allahpundit is puzzled by Daniels' statement, saying there are three possible reasons to make such an odd claim:
One: He’s using this as leverage over Indiana’s fleebagger Democrats, trying to pressure them into coming home so that the state can get on with its business. Except that, er, Daniels is regarded as a formidable potential nominee against Obama, which gives Democrats even more incentive to stay away and hold things up. Two: He’s such a good-government boy scout that he sincerely believes it’d be unfair to Indianans to go off and start stumping when there’s state business to be done at home. If so, that’s nice, but governors who have aspired to the presidency have been doing that for ages. No one will hold it against him. And even if they did, who cares? He’s term-limited. Three: Maybe … the guy really doesn’t want to run for president. He admits that the idea of national scrutiny scares his family to death, and he said a few months ago that if Barbour runs (which seems likely), his first inclination would be to help him. He sounds like a man looking for excuses to pass.