Dems in legislature to introduce bill to restore collective bargaining for public employees

From my email inbox:

MADISON – State Representatives Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) and Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) announced today they will introduce a bill to reinstate the collective bargaining rights Governor Walker and legislative Republicans stripped from public workers last legislative session.

“I helped implement collective bargaining in the 1959 legislative session and it worked, resulting in over 50 years of labor peace in Wisconsin,” said Risser. “What Republicans did was unprecedented, spiteful and contrary to our Wisconsin values.”

The Workers’ Rights Restoration Act would repeal the anti-union provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, which essentially eliminated public employee unions and their right to their collective voices. The bill includes provisions detailing union certification, the collection of union dues and the ability to collectively bargain for working conditions.

“The wage gap between the rich and hard-working middle income families has never been greater,” said Taylor. “With middle-income wages stagnating, this bill benefits all workers in helping establish family supporting wages and benefits.”

The bill takes into account concessions public workers publicly made with regards to paying into their health care and pensions. While the concessions were made publicly, they were not part of a negotiation with Walker, as he refused to come to the negotiating table with labor.

“Each and every day, Wisconsinites rely on public workers for all kinds of services that make our state great,” said Hesselbein. “This bill will help ensure these dedicated public servants are treated fairly and have a seat at the table.”

While the bill was unlikely to advance under current Republican leadership, the authors are optimistic the bill will provide a strong framework for efforts to restore public workers’ rights moving forward.

While I certainly appreciate Reps. Taylor and Hesselbein and Sen. Risser taking the initiative to attempt to restore collective for public employees, their latest attempt to restore collective bargaining rights for public employees is most certainly dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled legislature.

What’s the Deal with Progressives and Agism?

Just about a year ago, a candidate for local office visited Drinking Liberally to present a case for being elected over the long term incumbent. One of the knocks on the incumbent was the officeholder’s age put him out of touch with the district. Looking around the room at all of the gray hair and bald heads…many whose support at the doors, on the phones, and with contributions the candidate was hoping to gain…and knowing the incumbent was younger than myself…I commented to the candidate, that although I would accept the position that the incumbent was out of touch with the district and the area…I wouldn’t suggest attributing that to age. Instead of picking up on my hint, the candidate doubled down on the age theme. That candidate did not win and will not garner my support in any future attempts at elected office.

Just following the November 6th Presidential election, a rather premature Facebook discussion posited the question about potential Democratic candidates in 2016. Of course current favorite, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was mentioned. One of my progressive friends suggested that in 2016, Ms. Clinton would be 69 years old…too old to run for president. Senator John McCain was 72 when he was nominated at the 2008 Republican National Convention…and President Reagan was 69 when he started his first term as President (But of course they were Republicans, so we can discount that). So despite the recent lionization of former US Congressman David Obey, who was already over 69 during the protests in Madison or the reverence shown for State Senator Fred Risser who is well into his 80s, Ms. Clinton at 69 would be too old to be President. When I brought up the ‘elder’ statesmen Risser and Obey, I was reminded that the job of President is far more stressful and important than legislative positions. Maybe so…but I would suggest that the second most stressful job in US government…and one that is extremely taxing physically because of the continual world travel involved…is US Secretary of State…which by all accounts Ms. Clinton has filled with energy, grace, and diplomacy! And I think she could work circles around many of her far younger critics.

Is age one way of gauging a candidates fitness for office…well yes…I suppose it comes into play. But we should never dismiss out of hand a fully qualified candidate simply based on when they were born!

From the files of, “It’s the thought that counts…”

Yesterday State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) submitted legislation that would reinstate collective bargaining rights that were stripped from public employees as a result of the passage of Republican Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill earlier this year.

The legislation submitted by Rep. Pocan and Sen. Risser would repeal the anti-union provisions of Wisconsin Act 10, which essentially eliminated public employee unions and their right to collectively bargain on issues like workplace safety, employee leave time, and work rules.

“Unions exist because employers can mistreat their employees. Through this legislation, we are sending a signal to public employees that we value their service to Wisconsin and, unlike Scott Walker, we think they should have the right to collectively bargain, just as they have for half a century in Wisconsin,” said Pocan. “Our goal is to restore 50 years of labor peace in Wisconsin by rolling back Republican attacks on workers.”

While I certainly appreciate the efforts of Rep. Pocan and Sen. Risser to restore collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin’s public employees, barring some miraculous series of events that leads to Democrats regaining control of the State Senate, Assembly, and Governor’s office, the bill and its 45 cosponsors will do nothing more than collect dust.

Mike Ellis may not wear sunglasses at night, but he does wear them indoors!

Somethings Speak for themselves, I will just say that I can not confirm the rumor that Senate President Republican Mike Ellis was out too late at the Avenue Bar the night before and was nursing his hangover. Which would explain the inside sunglasses, attacking of the gum and incredible rudeness. Of course that could just be his new fashion look(I hear its in)! Now I will let Mike Ellis SHAME himself…

Shocking Revelation….

Yet another republican talking “Gotcha” talking point proves false. Last week the right wing blogosphere was giddy over the story that Senators Cullen and Risser were the authors of the Special session notice rule that “supposedly” allowed the republicans to offer no notice before passing their “non fiscal” ambush on collective bargaining rights. Some examples are : here, here and here) Yet it seems as typically happens with a right wing echo chamber talking point, not much reality to it! As The Cap times points out today:

According to research by the Legislative Reference Bureau, the rules that were passed in 1979 by the Assembly and in 1983 by the Senate made permanent procedures that the Legislature had adopted repeatedly since at least 1931 when going into special sessions.

“Prior to 1979, there was no rule governing special sessions; it was common for the legislature to adopt separate or amended rules for special sessions,” said Michael Keane, senior legislative analyst at the bureau.

The routine nature of the rules may explain why neither Risser nor Cullen remembered co-authoring them 28 years ago.

I am sure the apology and mea culpas are going up all over the right wing blogs, right next to the apologies for parroting the $7.5 million dollar capitol clean up fable.