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Wisconsin Senate strips workers’ collective bargaining rights

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel reacts

WASHINGTON - March 09, 2011 -

In a blatant abuse of power, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers dealt a blow to the working class tonight with passage of the anti-union provisions of Gov. Walker’s Budget Adjustment Bill on an 18-1 vote. No Democratic Senators were present. The bill strips collective bargaining rights for public workers. The Wisconsin Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation a proposal to curtail union rights, and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved that bill a short time later.

“Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers met in the dark of night, in a near-empty Capitol, and stretched their authority to the breaking point in an attempt to ram through legislation that the public does not support and that will harm thousands of the American working class,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Its legality is dubious. Its intent is mean spirited. It is perhaps the most grievous example of how democratic decision making should not take place. The Governor and his legislative minions should be ashamed of what they’ve done.”

“In exercising the nuclear option to impose their will on Wisconsites, Governor Walker and Senate Republicans attacked middle class families, from students to seniors, in their state,” said Van Roekel. “This is an affront to teachers, nurses, students, firefighters, construction workers and other everyday people who stood up, spoke out, and learned how much their voice mattered to their elected leaders.   The response will be unified and the collective voice of millions of working Americans from all across this nation will only grow louder.”

Van Roekel added, “Just listen to Brad Lutes, a Wisconsin Education Association Council member and physical education and health teacher in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He summed it up: ‘You can’t be defeated. There’s not really an alternative. You can take away my collective bargaining rights. You can take away my pension and some of my health care, but the one thing you can’t take away from me is my vote. I think that’s how a large majority of Wisconsinites and Americans feel right now.’”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. 

CONTACT: Anitra Speight, NEA Communications
202-822-7823 or 202-492-1281;