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Using loophole, Republicans pass bill stripping unions of collective bargaining rights

by Adam Russett on March 11, 2011

After almost a month of protests and debate, Republicans have managed to pass a bill that will effectively strip unions of much of their collective bargaining rights. The legislation will be finalized in the coming days and opposition has been fierce from both Democrats and activists.

Republican members used what has been called a "loophole" to effectively pass the bill without any Democrats present, which seems to indicate that they were unwilling to compromise, a possibility that had recently been alluded to by Governor Walker.

Legally, the senators present discovered that they could push the legislation through by separating all of the provisions that were related to financial issues, according to The Independent.

The new law will forbid unions to collectively bargain for higher wages, more benefits or lower hours. It will also prohibit unions from collecting membership dues automatically or attempting to persuade members to pay the fees. Because these functions are the primary purpose of unions, some have viewed the bill as the beginning of the end for the workers' groups.

"In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin," said Mark Miller, the leader of the Senate Democrats, the news source reports. "Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten."

Walker has claimed that his bill would save $30 million for Wisconsin by the end of the 2011 fiscal year, according to Bloomberg.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the news source that the organization was considering legal action against the vote, because he suggested that Wisconsin lawmakers violated several laws by passing the legislation without any Democratic support.

A poll conducted by U.S. News & World Report found that 62 percent of voters think that Scott Walker's proposal is wrong. These findings are similar to a New York Times / CBS News poll that found that the American public is against unions being stripped of their rights, 60 to 33 percent.

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