Wisconsin lawmakers have voted to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from the state's public workers in one of the strongest blows to the power of unions in years.
The state's Assembly passed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's explosive proposal 53-42 Thursday. The state's Senate approved it the night before after using a procedural move to bypass its AWOL Democrats.
Walker says he'll sign the legislation as quickly as possible. The vote brings a swift end to a standoff over union rights that has rocked Wisconsin and the nation. Tens of thousands of protesters have converged on the state's Capitol for weeks of demonstrations.
The implementation of Walker's proposal will be a key victory for Republicans who have targeted unions amid efforts to slash government spending.
Thousands of people poured into the Wisconsin state Capitol following the surprise vote in the Senate last night. Police gave up guarding one of the main entrances to the Capitol on Wednesday, allowing people to come in unabated. Capitol security repeatedly asked protesters to get off of second floor walkways because they were concerned over their structural security.
The Capitol has been the scene of protests for three weeks, with hundreds of demonstrators spending the night until last week when they left under a court order.