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Protesters cheer in the gallery of the Wisconsin state senate after 14 Democrats failed to show up to allow a vote. Andy Manis/AP

Police called in after 14 Democrat state senators dodge vote

Republicans in Wisconsin’s state senate wanted to stop workers from having collective bargaining rights. Democrats fled.

POLICE in the American state of Wisconsin have been called in to help locate 14 members of the state’s senate who have apparently fled in an apparent attempt to boycott a controversial vote.

The 14 members – all of whom are Democrats – were absent for a midday roll call which was to be followed by a vote on a new law, backed by the 19 Republican members, which would strip collective bargaining rights from most of the state’s employees.

With legislature rules ruling that a quorum could not be found unless there was at least one member from each party present, police were despatched to fetch the absent Democrats – but they could not be found, and some are believed to have left the state.

“Today they checked out, and I’m not sure where they’re at,” Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald told AP. “This is the ultimate shutdown, what we’re seeing today.”

The Democrats’ leader Mark Miller issued a statement appealing to the Republican side to reconsider the measure and to seek a compromise with its opponents, but did not indicate where the Democrats were, or when they might return.

Observers in the public gallery who oppose the bill shouted, “Freedom! Democracy! Unions!” as the president Mike Ellis announced the planned business could not proceed.

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