Wis. Democrats speak out

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7 of 14 Wis. Democrats who remain absent to prevent vote on legislation that could strip public employees' collective bargaining rights.
CBS

As the blaring protests continued just outside their chambers, 19 Republican senators returned to work today in Madison, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

Noticeably absent - the 14 democrats who fled the state six days ago to prevent a vote on legislation that would effectively strip public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Late Monday night, we sat down with seven of them just across the border in Illinois in a location they asked us not to disclose.

"I don't think we've gone AWOL, I think the governor's gone haywire," said Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee.

"We felt that it was imperative to use the only constitutional provision available to us which was to deny a quorum so that bill did not get railroaded through the legislature," said Senator Mark Miller D-minority leader.

When asked what Senator Frank Risser would say to people who say he lost the election that's the facts, he said:

"I was present in 1959 when the state of Wisconsin became the first state in the union to authorize collective bargaining by its state employees. To have it wiped out in less than five days without any previous explanation just isn't right."

Even so, Republican leaders say they have the votes and they vow to pass this legislation. Tuesday night Governor Scott Walker will give a televised fire side chat hoping he can bypass the ongoing protests.