Wisconsin Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald has declared that the elimination of most collective bargaining rights is not up for negotiation, reports the Associated Press.
There has been some suggestion that the unions would accept the higher contributions to pension funds and health-care plans in exchange for Walker agreeing to leave alone the existing collective bargaining rights. But Walker has stressed the importance of eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees, saying that local governments need to have more flexibility regarding employee compensation in order to be able to balance their budgets.
Fitzgerald also said that the state Senate could recovene in three hours if the Democratic senators return to the state.
UPDATE: In a new statement, Democrat state senator Jon Erpenbach makes it clear that Democrats will not compromise on the collective bargaining rights:
I have been informed that all state and local public employees – including teachers – have agreed to the financial aspects of Governor Walker’s request. This includes Walker’s requested concessions on public employee health care and pension. In return they ask only that the provisions that deny their right to collectively bargain are removed. This will solve the budget challenge.
This is a real opportunity for us to come together and resolve the issue and move on. It is incumbent upon Governor Walker to seriously consider and hopefully accept this offer as soon as possible.