Wisconsin Standoff Intensifies: Governor Scott Walker Will Not Relent on Collective Bargaining Rights, Senate Democrats Will Not Return

Mar 7, 2011 3:43pm

ABC's Chris Bury reports:

Today Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, in a news conference, ratcheted up pressure on the 14 absent Senate Democrats to return to Madison. Walker singled out Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller as the “barrier” to their return, noting “a handful” of the other Democrats have signaled they wish to return soon. 

Walker did not offer any indication that he would relent on his proposal to end most collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Indeed, Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters “we are not flexible on this piece.”  

Senate Democrats, who fled the state more than two weeks ago, have given conflicting signals on their willingness to return.  Earlier today, Miller asked Walker and Fitzgerald for a new meeting “near the Illinois border.”   Walker dismissed the invitation as “ridiculous,” noting that his representatives have held numerous conversations with the missing Democrats.  

The governor is clearly attempting to discredit Miller, suggesting the Democratic leader is beholden “to union bosses in Washington.”  Since the Democrats left, on February 17th, the Wisconsin standoff has set off a raging national debate on the role of public employee unions.  But most recent polls suggest Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican governor is losing political support, particularly among independent voters, for his proposal to dismantle union rights for state employees. 

Miller responded to Walker in a written statement Monday afternoon. He accused the governor of using the budget as an excuse to "strip workers of their rights".

And he accused Republicans of being unwilling to negotiate.

 “We have made numerous attempts to reach out to Republicans. I have personally called Senator Fitzgerald and the Governor and his office on a regular basis but have not received return calls," said Miller in the statement.

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