February 11. 2011 2:00AM - Last modified: March 14. 2012 1:12PM

Walker says he will call in National Guard if state employees balk at his proposal

  

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made the dramatic announcement this morning that he is prepared to call in the Wisconsin National Guard to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to revoke nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.

Walker said he has not called the National Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any labor problems.

Walker's plan to resolve the state's budget deficit would require higher pension and health insurance contributions by state employees and remove bargaining rights except in a limited way over wages.

Critics said Walker's "attacks" on the union workers violated a long-held state tradition of honest collective bargaining, and his threat to call the National Guard was an unnecessary insult to the state employees.

"Although this stunningly radical move is being cloaked as a budget necessity, it is a cruel hoax because Governor Walker and the Legislature have full authority to balance the state budget without attacking the fundamental rights of workers," said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. "In reality this is a naked power grab by the large corporate interests that back Scott Walker and who seek unfettered control over Wisconsin politics."

Walker said the budget repair bill he introduced today and the budget he will unveil Feb. 22 will not include furloughs for state employees and will "essentially not include layoffs."

"The last thing we need is any more people on unemployment," Walker said during a news conference to release details of the repair bill.

Walker said his proposals to reform the wage and benefit process are aimed at bringing stability to state and local government and will stave off thousands of layoffs at the state and local levels.

For ongoing coverage, visit WisPolitics.com, a media partner of BizTimes.


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