Wisconsin Deadline for 1,500 Worker Layoffs Looms

Scott Walker hasn't specified whose jobs he'll cut if Democrats don't return to Madison

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not budging from his anti-union legislation. And if he doesn't get his way by Friday, he'll start laying off up to 1,500 union represented state employees. Currently, Walkers legislation—which would radically curtail the collective bargaining abilities of unions—is stalled in the Senate after 14 Democratic lawmakers fled to Illinois in protest of the bill. At least one Democrat needs to return so that the Republican majority can get the quorum it needs to vote on the bill, the Associated Press reports.

By Friday, if a compromise about the "budget-repair bill" isn't reached by the absent Democrats and budget-slashing Republicans, layoffs will take effect within a month. As the New York Times noted, it's not clear which 1,500 state employees are targeted by the threat. Presumably it's public school teachers and employees, although the governor's spokesperson told that Times that "workers at mental health institutions and correctional facilities would be exempt"—meaning that everyone else could be fair game.

Walker's decisions were rationalized by the Senate Republicans lawyer Jim Troupis, who explained to ABC News, "The purpose of this is not to pass the budget bill. The purpose of this is to force the lawmakers to do their job... the issue now is whether democracy here can work. It is a constitutional crisis." As far as the sustained protests at the capitol, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that after a judge's order ruled that protesters could no longer sleep in the building overnight, the 50 or so of the last holdout protesters in the building peacefully left the rotunda hours after the ruling.

The state currently has a $3.6 billion dollar two-year deficit with a $137 billion shortfall for the budget that ends June 30th.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.