Politics

Wisconsin Senate can eliminate collective bargaining for teachers — even without Democrats who fled

Wisconsin’s Senate can move forward on many pieces of legislation — and could eliminate some or all collective bargaining rights for public sector workers — even without the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Chicago.

Wisconsin’s Senate needs a quorum, or 20 senators, to proceed on any spending or fiscal business. There are only 19 Republican state senators, and because all the Democrats fled, the Senate can’t hold a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget. But a quorum isn’t needed for most non-spending legislation.

Newly elected state Sen. Leah Vukmir, a Tea Party favorite, told The Daily Caller the Senate could separate the removal of collective bargaining rights for state and local employees from the spending bill if the Democrats refuse to return. Vukmir said she’s not yet sure if Wisconsin’s Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald will do so, but said it’s a possibility.

“All the collective bargaining stuff could be done as a separate bill,” Vukmir said in a phone interview. “I’m not certain if we’re going to do that at this point.”

Vukmir said the Senate could go a step further and make union membership voluntary for public sector workers, or change the rules so union workers would have to vote in favor of representation annually.

Fitzgerald did not immediately respond to TheDC’s request for comment.

This article originally misspelled the name of state Sen. Leah Vukmir. It has since been corrected.