Wisconsin limits union rights

Wisconsin State Police officers block a stairwell leading up to the senate chambers as protestors occupy the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 9, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: 19 Republican senators in Wisconsin last night voted to pass what is the most contentious state legislation in recent memory. You no doubt have heard the politics of the debate in the Badger State. You might even now know the name of several state senators from Wisconsin. We're gonna leave that to others to talk about.

Marketplace's Gregory Warner is here, live, to talk about the financials. Good morning Gregory.

GREGORY WARNER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Let's follow the money. What's this gonna do to Wisconsin's budget next year?

WARNER: Well in order to pass this bill in the way that they did -- without the Democratic senators present -- the republicans in Wisconsin had to strip out the fiscal parts of the bill that would have affected the budget.Now, you might say that taking away union's collective bargaining rights would save money because the government agencies bargain tougher with their unions. But I called Howard Cure. He's director of municipal research at EverCore Wealth Management and he spent 25 years looking at municipal budgets. He says it could easily swing the other way, energize the unions to take a bold stand.

HOWARD CURE: I still don't underestimate the power of the public service employees union. This may be the issue that rallies the voters and the unions further.

He says unions are looking ahead to the elections of 2012, and preparing a throw the bums out message. And Steve, I know you wanted to avoid politics, Steve, but it's just so hard with this one.

CHIOTAKIS: All right, well let's go back to the finances then Gregory, and the country's looming obligations. Does this say anything about how the nation and particularly other states, are negotiating with unions about pay and about pensions?

WARNER: Well, ironically today is the first day of historic a collective-bargaining vote by airport security workers across the country. If it succeeds it will be a huge boost for federal employee unions. So today is hardly the end of public sector unionism by a long shot. But at the same time, a lot of governors in a lot of budget-strapped states are watching Wisconsin very carefully.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Gregory Warner, reporting for us this morning. Gregory, thanks.

WARNER: Thanks.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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