As the state Assembly continued its marathon session in to the early morning hours of Thursday, Democrats came to the defense of correctional officers; one institution at a time.
The Assembly debated about 20 amendments from Democrats that would restore the collective bargaining rights of prison workers to the budget repair bill. Each one named a specific institution in the state. All were tabled, effectively ending the chances of them being adopted.
State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) says those officers are constantly put at risk and should have a voice in the conditions they work in every day.
The loss of those rights has been key sticking point among Democrats. It’s also the major them among most of the thousands of protestors that have been around the Capitol for the last 10 days.
Several lawmakers voiced concerns that the loss of collective bargaining rights for prison workers could result in them losing health benefits without notice, face reduced protections against exposure to communicable diseases, or being forced to purchase their own safety equipment.
During the lengthy debate, State Representative Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) questioned the tactic of singling out institutions. Kaufert said Democrats could have offered one amendment and accomplished the same goal.
The comment prompted several Democrats to defend their methods. State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) argued it’s the only way to make sure workers’ rights are being defended. Screaming from the floor, Pocan said “hell yeah” it’s inconvenient, but they will be heard.
Following the defeat of the corrections amendments, the Assembly moved on to several similar proposals aimed at restoring collective bargaining rights for state technical college workers.
As of 4am this morning, the Assembly had been in session for over 40 hours.