Wisconsin legislature fails to pass union contracts after Democratic Majority leader votes against them

Via Glenn Reynolds, here's a rather interesting story out of Madison:

Stunned Democrats stripped Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker of his leadership position after he abruptly turned on them and voted against new contracts for state workers.

The deals looked all but dead after Decker's about-face late Wednesday night. Senate Democrats planned to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, but they can't approve the contracts without the Weston Democrat's support.

Democrats and union leaders said Decker never hinted he wasn't with them.

Wisconsin State Employees Union executive director Marty Beil lashed out at Decker, calling him “a whore” for siding with Republicans who opposed the contracts.

“There's no reason for what Decker did here tonight,” Beil said. “No one saw it coming.”

Decker declined to respond. The 20-year Senate veteran lost his re-election bid in November and is out of the Legislature in three weeks anyway. “I have no regrets,” he said.

Interestingly enough, Decker appears to be siding with Wisconsin's Republican governor in this debate over union contracts:

Contract negotiations are usually a quiet affair, but Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker ignited a bitter debate when he demanded last month that the current administration stop negotiations.

He said he wanted state workers to make deeper concessions to help him deal with a projected $150 million deficit in the current fiscal year and a projected $3.3 billion shortfall in the next two-year state budget. He even went so far as to say he might consider abolishing state employee unions.

But Democrats control the Senate and Assembly until Jan. 3, when Republicans seize control of both houses. They pressed on despite Walker's demands.

Last week they released 17 agreements retroactive to July 1, 2009, that cover about 39,000 state workers. The deals include no pay increases and 16 furlough days that Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle ordered state employees to take in the state budget. The contracts also call for 5 percent increases in health care contributions, which would generate about $1 million in savings, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Decker's been mostly silent except to say Doyle should have completed the contracts a long time ago. Another defeated Democrat, Sen. Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, also voted against the contracts saying he didn't want to hamsring the incoming Republican-controlled legislature. Maybe there's behind the scenes chicanery that explains their votes, but if these two Democrats did for once vote their consciences and go against the most powerful Democratic spcial interest in the country, that's certainly admirable.

Beltway Confidentialspecial interestsUSWisconsin

Just Posted

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers proved to be too much for the Niners in a Week 3 loss to Green Bay. It was San Francisco’s home opener for the 2021 season. (Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers.)
Week 3 NFL roundup: Packers victory over 49ers caps off a stellar Sunday

By Tyler Dunne New York Times Here’s the Week 3 roundup of… Continue reading

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

Most Read