14 Democratic Wisconsin Legislators Leave State to Prevent Vote

A group of Democratic lawmakers blocked passage of a sweeping anti-union bill Thursday, refusing to show up for a vote and then abruptly leaving the state in an effort to force Republicans to the negotiating table.

As ever-growing throngs of protesters filled the Capitol for a third day, the 14 Democrats disappeared around noon, just as the Senate was about to begin debating the measure, which would end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

“What’s at stake in Madison is the basic right of working people to have a voice,” contends Anders Lindall, Chicago spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “I don’t think that we have the same dynamic in Illinois, where that type of total assault, on such a basic right, would be tolerated.”