Democratic attacks on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker notwithstanding, it appears that good man was indeed willing to compromise with Senate Democrats who fled the state. It’s only that the state’s minority party proved intransigent:
It appears the Democrats had not accepted the concessions outlined by Walker in an email to some Dem senators (an email his office released). These were discussed below. They allowed collective bargaining over a broader range of issues, but kept the provision ending mandatory union dues checkoff, which is arguably the change unions fear the most. I doubt there was ever a route to a mutually acceptable compromise unless the dues-checkoff provision could itself have somehow been compromise
Simply put, what automatic checkoff does is make it trivially easy for unions to collect dues: the employer (in this case, the state government) simply deducts the money from an union member’s pay and sends it along. No fuss, no muss, no debate… it’s just one more thing that the government takes from your paycheck. This turns the collection of union dues into a guaranteed revenue stream (instead of the colossal pain in the neck that such things usually are); most people don’t even notice, frankly. And it’s from union dues that unions get the money that they use for political advocacy*.
Read that whole thing too. In short, the bill is indeed about a “power grab” as some have described it; the unions and the Democrats have long since grabbed it. Not, once the Walker reforms pass, Wisconsin Republicans will have taken the power away from a Democratic interest group — and restored it to individual public employees.
**and California law (as well as that in other states).