MADISON, Wis. • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, believing he was talking to prominent financial backer David Koch, revealed to a Buffalo, N.Y., blogger on Tuesday his strategies to deal with public-sector unions and to lure Democrats boycotting the Senate back to Wisconsin.
In the 20-minute talk, he also likened his tough stance to take away most bargaining rights from public workers to former President Ronald Reagan successfully combating the air traffic controllers union three decades ago. "That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall in the fall of Communism, because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn't a pushover," Walker said according to the recording.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Walker said his remarks to the prank caller jibed with his public remarks.
Critics seized on the remarks made by Walker in the call, saying they showed his proposed rollback of public worker bargaining rights was aimed at killing the unions.
After Walker spoke, state Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, crashed the news conference. Walker's staff opened the doors to the room, so chants and drumming by protesters poured in the room and nearly drowned out Hulsey.
INDIANAPOLIS • The battle against unions in the Midwest escalated Wednesday as a second state, Indiana, in effect found itself trapped in a legislative stalemate.
Most of the Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives have temporarily moved to Illinois to avoid having to vote on legislation they consider to be anti-union, according to a statement released Wednesday morning. Illinois is also where all 14 of the Democratic senators from Wisconsin sought sanctuary when they fled from Madison last week to block legislation that would have ended collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.
"We have relocated to Urbana, Ill., for the immediate future," the Democrats said in a statement.
Columbus • Ohio Senate leaders say they plan to change a collective bargaining bill to allow state workers the chance to negotiate wages, but the measure would now ban public employees from striking.
State Sen. Kevin Bacon, a Republican, says the state Department of Administrative Services suggested that keeping some sort of collective bargaining would be more cost-efficient than eliminating it entirely. The initial bill called for a ban on collective bargaining by state workers. It has drawn thousands of protesters to the Capitol, who held another rally on Wednesday.
MONTPELIER • Shaken by the crisis facing their brethren in Wisconsin, Vermont labor union members and their supporters staged a noisy, sign-waving rally, calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's push to strip some public employees of collective bargaining rights a disturbing tactic that could spread to other states.
More than 300 people — teachers, firefighters, nurses and retired state workers among them — gathered on the Capitol steps in bitter 12-degree cold, pledging solidarity with their union comrades and making it clear they didn't want the same thing to happen in Vermont.
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