Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a controversial bill Friday that removes bargaining powers from public-sector labor unions in the state.
The measure doesn't include everything Governor Walker has been pushing for.
In order to pass the bill, in the absence of Senate Democrats who fled the state, Republicans removed some provisions of Walker's bill that affect state spending directly. This was a tactical move to pass the bill without a quorum, which is required for budget matters.
But the measure contains the major elements that stirred outrage against Walker by union workers and many other Wisconsin citizens. Those same elements put Wisconsin in the national spotlight as a test of whether public-sector unions can retain their clout in an era of tight state budgets.
Here's are key provisions of the act Walker signed.
• The bill strips core collective-bargaining powers for most state and local-government workers. Members of these public employee unions will no longer be able to bargain collectively over benefits, and the base-level wage rates they bargain for can't be adjusted upward higher than inflation..
• It provides that annual elections be held among unionized workers, with secret ballots, for public-employee unions to remain in place. This comes as national labor leaders have been hoping to move federal law for private workplaces in the opposite direction, creating an easier way for unions to organize in workplaces.
• It bars the automatic deduction of dues from workers' paychecks for most public-sector unions in the state. By making dues voluntary, that is likely to crimp union finances.
• It prohibits public-sector workers from striking. If workers do walk off the job, the governor is allowed to declare a "state of emergency" and fire them. Employees can be fired for striking, engaging in a work slowdown, or missing three days of work during such an emergency.