Addressing the nation's governors today in Washington, President Obama targeted state chiefs who have sought to balance their budgets through weakening unions and curbing employees' benefits, insinuating that doing so is demonizing workers.
The comments are the second time Obama has weighed in on the unrest across the country after several governors have taken a touch approach with public employee unions. And while he didn't overtly mention "attacks" on unions as he did last time, he did scold those governors forced to make tough choices to plug astounding budget gaps:
"I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon," the president said.
Those remarks came on the same day that Wis. Gov. Scott Walker told AWOL state senate Democrats that unless they returned and voted on his emergency budget bill, he would be forced to start laying off workers.
Speaking in La Crosse, WI on Monday, Walker said the state faced "dire consequences" unless the 14 state senators return from their nearly two weeks away. His comments came as he planned to deliver his two-year budget plan in the state Assembly chamber Tuesday afternoon. He has said that plan will help make clear why the collective bargaining concessions he is seeking from public employees are necessary to help plug a $3.6 billion shortfall.
Walker explained that he will start issuing layoff notices to state workers as soon as this week if the bill isn't passed, but he hasn't said who would be targeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.