The conservative media have denounced unions in Wisconsin for attempting to negotiate contracts before that state's recently passed anti-union law goes into effect, referring to what they're doing as a "cheap trick." But the conservative media praised Wisconsin Republicans when they used questionable tactics to pass the bill in the state senate.
Right-Wing Media Criticize Unions For "Tak[ing] Advantage" Of "Extra Time" To Negotiate Contracts
Republican Senators Reportedly Pushed Through Anti-Union Bill "In Less Than Half An Hour." In an article about the passage of Wisconsin's anti-union bill, The New York Times reported: "Republicans senators pushed the measure through in less than half an hour even as the Senate's Democrats remained many miles away, trying to block the vote." The Times further reported that "the Republicans used a procedural maneuver ... to force the collective bargaining measure through: they removed elements of Governor Walker's bill that were technically related to appropriating funds, thus lifting a requirement that 20 senators be present for a vote. In the end, the Senate's 19 Republicans approved the measure, 18 to 1, without any debate on the floor or a single Democrat in the room." [The New York Times, 3/9/11]
Hoft: Wisconsin Public "Unions To Take Advantage Of The Extra Time To Ram Through Contracts." In a March 15 post to his Gateway Pundit blog titled, "Wisconsin Public Unions Ram Through Last Minute Contracts Ahead of New Union Law," Jim Hoft criticized Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette's decision to delay implementation of the new Wisconsin bill until the end of March to give school boards and local governments more time to negotiate employment contracts with unions. From Hoft's post:
Wisconsin's Secretary of State Doug La Follette said a bill taking away public workers' collective-bargaining rights will take effect on March 26 so that schools and local governments have time to pass contract extensions between now and then. The liberal democrat will not sign the bill immediately in order for unions to take advantage of the extra time to ram through contracts. [Gateway Pundit, 3/15/11]
RedState On La Follette's Decision To Delay Implementation Of Wisconsin Law: "Cheap Trick?" In a March 14 post titled, "Cheap Trick? WI Secy of State Gives Unions Extra Time to Lock in Contracts," RedState blogger LaborUnionReport criticized Wisconsin La Follette for "mak[ing] things a bit stickier" by delaying the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's union law until "the last possible moment." From RedState:
This may make things a bit stickier in Wisconsin: Democrat Secretary of State, Doug La Follette, is giving public-sector unions until the last moment possible (March 25th) to lock in contracts before publishing the new law limiting collective bargaining rights.
Walker had asked La Follette to publish the law on Monday, but La Follette refused. [RedState, 3/14/11]
NRO's Costa: Unions "Are Digging In." In a March 15 National Review Online article, Robert Costa wrote that "union bosses are hustling to complete deals with friendly municipalities before the law becomes active," and added: "In every sense, [unions] are digging in." From Costa's article:
Walker foes are also looking to trip up the new law as it kicks into gear. Democrats have filed a complaint with Dane County officials, charging that senate Republicans violated the state's open-meetings law during passage. Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat and descendant of progressive hero "Fighting Bob" La Follette, is attempting to delay the bill's implementation. Union bosses are hustling to complete deals with friendly municipalities before the law becomes active later this month.
In every sense, they are digging in. [National Review Online, 3/15/11]
But They Cheered Wisconsin GOP's Use Of Controversial Tactics To Pass Bill
RedState: "BREAKING: The Wisconsin GOP Has Had Enough." In a March 9 RedState post titled, "BREAKING: The Wisconsin GOP has had enough," blogger Moe Land wrote: "The portion of the financial package that the unions most objected to is now going to be the law without them present. They are, to say the least, upset." Lane added in an update to his post: "Allahpundit makes a point that just occurred to me: 'Don't you hate it when irregular procedures are used to destroy a de facto filibuster of an unpopular bill?' Karma. It's what's for dinner, and the Democrats have earned every bite." [RedState, 3/9/11]
Doocy: If Dems Don't Like Wisconsin GOP Passing Anti-Union Bill, "Too Bad." From the March 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: I thought it was favorable to the governor that those emails were released because it showed that he was coming off his mark a little bit, but guess what -- now the Democrats are going to say look, this was unconstitutional what the Republicans did. They are claiming now that it's a violation of Wisconsin's open meeting law because they only got two hours' notice.
DOOCY: Well, too bad. They left their jobs three weeks ago, and then the Republicans gave them a chance, gave them a chance, come on back, we're gonna take your parking, we're gonna take your paycheck -- nothing. Well, understandably the Democrats in Wisconsin are furious. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/10/11]
Bolling: "I Was In The Car Fist Pumping" After Wisconsin Passed Bill. From the March 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BOLLING: Across the board you talk about Wisconsin teachers, you talk about Ohio teachers, you talk about New Jersey teachers, what the teachers come back and say, the individual teachers, hey it's not us, it's the union heads, the teachers' union bosses who are lobbying for all this stuff. Forget it, give us the salaries, give us the jobs. Look at what Scott Walkers says he's gonna have to do -- 1,500. By the way that interview with Scott Fitzgerald this morning on the phone, I was in the car fist pumping. That is fantastic what they did there. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/10/11]
Hannity And Coulter Cheer "Huge Victory" In Wisconsin. During the March 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity sat down with columnist Ann Coulter, who stated during the show: "I'm glad they came up with this today, and I do want to ask why it took them three weeks to figure this out":
HANNITY: All right. Now, why don't we start with Wisconsin, that's the breaking news now. Huge victory, and guess what? They didn't need the 14 Democratic cowards after all.
COULTER: And by the way, the response of the guy who oversees the bus drivers, well it is in the contract. Every American ought to know about every one of those outrage. Do you know, if you work for the state of Wisconsin, if you take a single phone call, a single phone call when you are not at work, you get to bill for half an hour of overtime? These are insane contracts because there is no management with government. It's another politician trying to buy your vote.
There's no, you know, capitalist overseer, trying to squeeze more work out of people for less money. You can't have unions for government workers, which FDR said, which George Meany said. And why aren't the Wisconsin Republicans pushing this? I think they're -- I love them but this is tough love, you have fallen down on the job and they are losing the battle as we saw from the Rasmussen poll yesterday. I'm glad they came up with this today, and I do want to ask why it took them three weeks to figure this out. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/9/11]
HotAir Mocks Wisconsin Dems For Labeling Passage Of Collective Bargaining Bill An "Affront To Democracy." In a March 9 HotAir post, blogger AllahPundit mocked Wisconsin Democrat Chris Larson, calling him a "fleebagger" and marking his comments as "pure oblivious irony":
Fleebagger Chris Larson retaliates with 100 megatons of pure oblivious irony:
What Republicans did was an affront to democracy. Never shall a voter doubt which party stands for the working class, and which for the rich.[HotAir.com, 3/9/11]
Wisconsin Legal Experts Questioned Legality Of Senate Bill's Passage
Media And Political Law Expert: GOP Not Giving Required 24-Hour Notice of Conference Committee "Raises A Lot Of Serious Questions." The Wisconsin State Journal reported on March 10:
Although the Senate hadn't yet passed the bill, Senate rules allow the Senate president to move a bill to a conference committee if the Assembly's intent is clear and it's past the amendable stage -- a step the Senate took last month.
Word quickly spread that the Republicans were planning to rush the measure through by stripping the fiscal elements of the bill. Within an hour, the rotunda began to fill with angry protesters, while an even larger crowd gathered outside the building.
The 6 p.m. conference committee lasted just minutes, and featured an angry speech by Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, the only Democratic member present, who accused the Republicans of violating the state's open meeting law and "trampling on democracy."
"Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law," he said, referring to the short notice given for the meeting.
Typically, 24 hours' notice is required for a public meeting. There are exceptions, but it was not clear Wednesday that the conference committee met those standards.
Attorney Robert Dreps, an expert in media and political law, said exceptions can be made if notice is "impossible or impractical."
"It raises a lot of serious questions," he said. "I don't think they can satisfy the standard for giving such short notice for that committee meeting."
Senate Chief Clerk Robert Marchant said such notice is not needed when the Senate is in special session, but Dreps said he knew of no such exemption. [Wisconsin State Journal, 3/10/11]
Journal Sentinel: "I Can't Imagine How" Republicans Met Standard For Not Requiring 24-Hour Public Meeting Notice. A March 10 Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel article further noted:
On Wednesday, Republicans formed the conference committee -- made up of legislators from both houses -- to modify Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. The committee e-mailed a notice to all legislative offices that the panel would meet at 6 p.m. to act on the legislation.
A staffer for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released a statement from Rob Marchant, the Senate chief clerk, stating that he believes the Republican legislators had acted appropriately.
Marchant said a Senate rule permits no advance notice for meetings when it is in special session - which it is when it's dealing with the budget-repair bill. Despite this, Marchant said, the Senate tried to alert members of the conference committee about two hours before the meeting. Even if the notice arrived a little late, he said he believes there was no violation. "The notice appears to have satisfied the requirements of the rules and statutes," Marchant's note says.
But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, the lone Democrat who was at the meeting, disagreed. "I don't think it's going to stand up," he told reporters afterward.
Barca, a Kenosha Democrat, said his office received a notice of the committee meeting at 4:09 p.m., less than two hours before the lawmakers gathered to act.
Attorney Robert Dreps, an expert on the state open meetings law, said he did not believe the conference committee could meet on such short notice.
State law generally requires a 24-hour advance notice for public meetings. But government meetings can be called with just two hours' notice when it is impossible or impractical to alert people any sooner, said Dreps, who has represented the Journal Sentinel in the past. "I can't imagine how they can meet that standard," he said. [Journal Sentinel, 3/10/11]