Trends in Ed: Showdown in Wisconsin

| February 22, 2011
The battle between Wisconsin public sector unions (composed mostly of primary and secondary school teachers) and Republican governor Scott Walker heated up today, as Walker threatened layoffs if his bill restricting worker benefits and collective bargaining rights is not passed.  Voting on the measure has been put on hold since last Thursday, when a Democratic walk-out left the State Senate unable to muster the attendance needed to take up the plan.
Wisconsin faces a projected $3.6 billion dollar budget shortfall over the next two years, and Governor Walker has argued that his plan is one in a series of necessary steps to get the state’s finances back on track. Furthermore, he claims that the belt-tightening demanded of public-sector workers will only lead them to share in the sacrifices the majority of WI citizens have already made.
Walker’s threat comes after a weekend of rallies by both sides in the state capital, Madison. Demonstrations are planned in several states to express solidarity with the beleaguered unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and liberals argue that Governor Walker’s plan represents a corporate attack on unionization.