“The bitter political standoff in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s bid to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public-sector workers ended abruptly Wednesday night as Republican colleagues in the State Senate successfully maneuvered to adopt a bill doing just that,” The New York Times reports this morning. “Democrats….condemned the move as an attack on working families, a violation of open meetings requirements….and a virtual firebomb in state that already found itself politically polarized and consumed with recall efforts, large scale protests and fury from public workers.” Rallies and demonstrations continue in the state.
As heated as it’s been, the rhetoric over unions is fast-approaching the boiling point; Wisconsin is just the beginning. The right accuses unions, especially public sector unions, of stifling economic competitiveness and putting state economies in the red. “The bottom line is we are trying to balance our budget and there really is no room to negotiate on that because we’re broke,” Scott Walker told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. Or as Harvard economist Robert Barro wrote in the The Wall Street Journal: “Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion .…[but] collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.”