“It’s trying to slow this train down,” he said. “It’s making sure that obviously everybody in the state knows what we’re dealing with here. It’s an opportunity for the governor to calm down, take a step back, realize what he’s asking for with this legislation and hopefully come to his senses.”
Mr. Erpenbach said Democrats have reached out to Mr. Walker’s administration but have not had their phone calls returned. He said it may take a coalition of moderate Republicans in the Senate to try to negotiate an end to the stalemate.
One of the Republicans, Sen. Dale Schultz, has proposed suspending collective bargaining rights temporarily to get through the state’s two-year budget but then restoring them in 2013. That idea was endorsed Sunday by the Wisconsin State Journal, the state’s second-largest newspaper.
Mr. Erpenbach called Mr. Schultz brave for bucking the Walker administration with the proposal. Asked whether Democrats could accept Mr. Schultz’s plan, Mr. Erpenbach said workers should not lose their rights since they have agreed to make concessions by paying more for their health care and pensions.
On Sunday, cornerback Charles Woodson, a member of the NFL Players Association, became the latest Green Bay Packer to back the public employees’ cause. NFL owners and the players union are locked in their own fight over a collective bargaining agreement. Along with Mr. Woodson, seven other current and former Packers have expressed support for the protesters.
Associated Press writer Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee contributed to this report.