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USA - Wisconsin workers fight on

posted 22 Feb 2011, 09:03 by Admin uk   [ updated 2 Apr 2011, 03:41 ]

 First Recall Petition Will Be Filed Today

 by James Parks, Apr 1, 2011

 The first recall petition will be filed today against a Wisconsin Senate Republican who joined the rigged vote to take away public employees freedom to bargain. Organizers say volunteers have gathered more than the 15,588 signatures needed to trigger a recall election of Sen. Dan Kapanke, who represents the La Crosse area. Recall supporters say they plan to take the petitions to Madison after a rally today at La Crosse City Hall.

This is the first  of 19 active recall efforts registered between Feb. 24 and March 2 against 16 senators. The filing comes just before the halfway point in the 60-day window the recall committee has to gather signatures in the district.

The state Democratic Party provided infrastructure support but “not a single paid canvasser was needed to trigger the recall versus Dan Kapanke,” said party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, who credited volunteers for collecting more than 20,000 signatures in less than 30 days.

“It took on a life of its own,” said Pat Scheller, who filed the original paperwork to launch the recall effort. Scheller is  a banker and is not a member of any party.

The state Government Accountability Board could order an election on the sixth Tuesday after determining the petition is in order. If there is more than one challenger, that election would be a primary followed by a general election four weeks later.

Democrats need three additional senate seats to gain a majority. Kapanke is one of three targeted Republicans who won the last election with less than 52 percent of the votes.

http://blog.aflcio.org

200,000 demonstrate -  Protesters Refuse To Quit

YouTube Video


 by Todd Richmond 12 March 2011

 MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of pro-labor protesters turned out for more demonstrations at the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday, seemingly undeterred by the fact that a contentious collective bargaining bill had been signed into law the day before.

The demonstrators insisted the fight wasn't over, and many said their focus would now be on recalling the Republican lawmakers who had pushed through the bill. Efforts to recall from office eight Republican state senators and some of the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to try to prevent a vote on it have already started.

Democratic senators were expected to make their first appearance in Madison since fleeing the state later Saturday. Their departure had left the Senate one vote short of the number needed to pass measures spending money. Republicans got around that by breaking out the collective bargaining provisions of the legislation, which could be passed with fewer members present.

The proposal to eliminate most of public workers' collective bargaining rights touched off a national debate, and its passage was a key victory for Republicans who have targeted unions in nationwide efforts to slash government spending. But labor leaders have said they plan to use the setback to fire up their members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012.

Saturday's protest got a boost from a parade of more than 30 tractors driven by farmers supporting the union workers. Thousands of people lining the sidewalks cheered as tractors rolled by bearing signs with messages such as "Planting the seeds for a big season of recalls." The farmers thrust their fists in the air in response.

Tod Pulvermacher, 33, of Bear Valley, drove a tractor towing a manure spreader carrying a sign that read, "Walker's bill belongs here" – a reference to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

"Farmers are working-class Americans," he said as the crowd around him started to cheer. "We work for a living as hard as anybody, and this is about all of us."

Pulvermacher said the fight against the law was "everybody's fight" and it was just beginning.

"If we can keep the energy high, we can change a lot of things in Wisconsin in the next year," he said.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com


 Tears and Anger after Anti-Union Bill passes

 By Katrin Dauenhauer, http://www.ipsnews.net/

  MADISON, Wisconsin, Mar 11, 2011

  - Emotions are running high at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin after Republican senators passed a revised version of a budget repair bill that will take away public workers' collective bargaining rights in an ad hoc session Wednesday night.

Democratic senators fled the state more than two weeks ago to prevent a vote on the controversial piece of legislation. But this week, Republican lawmakers stripped the bill of financial components to circumvent a quorum that would have required 20 senators, and thus at least one Democratic senator, to be present.

The bill passed the Assembly Thursday and was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker early Friday morning.

Outside the capitol building, protesters expressed anger and frustration over the Republican maneuvre by shouting "Shame, Shame" and "Liar, Liar". Earlier chants of "This is what democracy looks like" have turned into "This is what tyranny looks like."

"This was totally dirty politics," Ben Kaker, a teacher from Madison told IPS. "The vote clearly shows that Walker isn't after the money but after busting unions. Financial goals might come later, but they are not paramount. This also shows that Walker was lying the whole time."

"What happened last night was a travesty of democracy," said Don Smith, a union member from Madison. "I am almost speechless because it amounts to rape of the American way. This vile creature [Walker] and his 17 criminals with their total disregard for what America stands for totally corrupted democracy and sold it to an oligarchy that must be defeated at all costs."

Democrats and protestors are questioning the legality of the procedure. Participants had only been informed about the meeting less than two hours prior. Open meeting laws by the state, however, require the notification of participants and the public at least 24 hours in advance.

"I am completely horrified that such an illegal thing took place. It's different if you read about it. But if you actually saw how the vote went down, you can't but cry. This is a 'F**k you' to the American people," Leah Thomas from Madison told IPS.

"Similar initiatives are going on in other states right now. They are all looking to Wisconsin to see how things turn out. If Wisconsin will serve as a precedent for legislation in other states, we are in big trouble," she continued.

"I am appalled. I think what happened last night was the culmination of the Republican Party's disrespectful behaviour of the last couple of weeks. This is the furthest thing away from democracy that I can think of. I am not in a position to say if it was unlawful but at the very least it was unethical. My faith in democracy has been shaken," Dawn Wavra from Waunakee told IPS.

"I am hoping this vote will not stand. Otherwise it is looking pretty tough for Wisconsinites," Dough Joseph from Eau Claire told IPS.

Protesters also criticise the increased difficulties to enter the capitol building. While in the beginning the building was open to the public day and night, a Mar. 3 court order declared that people could not occupy the capitol after hours. And during the day, long lines await people who want to get inside. Bag checks and metal detectors are in place.

"I was here during the vote. They [the police] dragged us out of the vestibule by picking us up one by one, even though I was part of a public hearing. It's disgusting. They started out by saying it's about the budget and it's not about collective bargaining. Scott Walker is a liar. You can't get any more blatant about a lie than this," Tim Wersland with Iron Workers Local 383 told IPS.

Meanwhile, unions asked members to join the recall efforts against Republican senators in the eight districts where the process is already underway. Calls for a recall of Republican senators and Governor Walker have also been made by many protesters.

"Walker is taking this state backwards, this is very unsettling. Hopefully, we can recall him. Walker is saying he is not listening to polls, but he ought to be, because right now, the majority of the people has turned against him," Sue Brumberg from Eau Claire told IPS.

"He is dividing the state, people are getting polarised. It is very disheartening. Hopefully, we can turn things around," she said.

The possibility of a general strike is also being discussed. "This is not just a vote on union organisation. This is a larger attack on the working class and amounts to class warfare," Michael Koc from Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) told IPS. "It is sad to see that the best thing Democrats could do is leave. But this also shows that we cannot rely on either party within the system, but need to use direct actions to fight for our rights."

"We are a long way off from a general strike, but we have to organise to make our voices heard," he added.

Protesters are closely watching the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, which could help turn the tide in making their voices heard. Currently, the court has a four- to-three conservative majority. One of the judges, David Prosser, is up for reelection on Apr. 5. Running against him is JoAnne Kloppenburg.

As activists expect the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of Wednesday's vote, they stress the importance of a liberal majority with Kloppenburg on the court.

Despite the passage of the bill, protesters are determined to continue their demonstrations. Another big rally is planned for this Saturday.

"We think it's completely unfair that they are not listening to the peaceful protesters right outside their window. But we are not going away. And the weather is only getting better," Shelley Hoernke, a teacher from Oshkosh, told IPS.

"I am embarrassed for my state, which has a proud history of progressive politics. I am not proud of last night's vote but we will prevail," said Paul Klein from Steven's Point. "People are mad."

With No ‘SHAME,’ Republicans Ram Walker’s Bill Through Assembly

 http://blog.aflcio.org

by Mike Hall, Feb 25, 2011

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly early this morning unexpectedly cut off debate and quick-marched a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) bill to eliminate the right of public service workers to bargain for middle-class jobs

The bill passed 51-17 with 28 lawmakers—all Democrats, three Republicans and an independent—abstaining in protest. The bill still must pass the state Senate and Wisconsin workers continue their fight against the bill.

There were still more than 15 speakers still scheduled to speak out against the attack on workers and more amendments poised for votes. But according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Republican leaders invoked rarely used rule to end the debate before voting on the bill.

That rule requires a motion seconded by 15 members and then a roll call vote. Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said afterward he was not sure whether that had occurred, saying he had heard the order to start a vote on the final passage of the bill and had done so.

Later Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison) said, “We never imagined they would do it as they did, not even properly using the nuclear option.”

After the rapid fire vote, Democratic Assembly members begin a chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” that was quickly picked up the legions Wisconsin workers in the packed  Assembly gallery. Teachers, nurses, state parks workers and other public employees and their supporters have been in Madison for nearly two-weeks in a historic protest against Walker’s assault on good jobs.

Republican lawmakers immediately left the chamber without comment.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca called the action

a sad day for day for this state when we are willing to ignore the traditions that people died for in this state, that people fought bitterly for.,we ignore our forefathers who made this a great state.

The bill still must pass the state Senate and Wisconsin workers continue their fight against the bill. Also hundreds of solidarity rallies are on tap across the country this weekend and we’ll bring you more on these later today.





Sunday, February 20, 2011  02:57 AM

http://www.dispatchpolitics.com

Protesters gather outside the Capitol in Madison, Wis. The largest crowd since protests began showed up yesterday.

MADISON, Wis. - A state Capitol thrown into political chaos swelled for a fifth day with nearly 70,000 protesters, as supporters of Republican efforts to scrap the union rights of state workers challenged pro-labor protesters face to face for the first time. GOP leaders insisted again yesterday that there was no room for compromise.


Image courtesy of the New York Times
Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Up to 30,000 people overwhelmed the Wisconsin State Capitol amid weeklong protests in Madison. Members of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and President Obama have made statements in support of public workers’ unions.

Tom Morrello leads singing of World Wide Rebel Song and reads solidarity message from Egypt


World Wide Rebel Song


As the standoff entered its second week, thousands braved cold winds and freezing temperatures to march again on Monday, waving signs that said “Stop the attack on Wisconsin families” and “solidarity.” The protests drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday.

A standoff in Wisconsin between Republican state lawmakers and their Democratic counterparts, as well as public workers and unions, has put the state capitol at center stage of a national struggle for workers’ rights, with peaceful protests not seen since the Vietnam War 40 years ago. Republican leaders are ignoring the interests of 200,000 state employees and their families, and so far are choosing to stand with big business and campaign contributors over working families.

Under the guise of pushing through debatable budget cuts, Governor Scott Walker is also trying to push through legislation that would curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers in violation of their democratic rights and in what many say is an un-American assault on labor unions and workers. He is using the fiscal crisis to advance an extremist agenda against the middle class. At a time when many public employees have taken freezes and furloughs already, Governor Walker proposed to cut the pay and benefits of workers as much as 10 percent.

These are middle class families on the line, and Governor Walker’s blatant disregard for their democratic rights as workers to form a union and collectively bargain is a blatant power play by Republican big money interests and a blow to working families in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker would destroy the voice of educators, nurses, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, and other public employees by destroying their unions. His legislation would placate big business and his campaign contributors, abandoning 200,000 public employees. This does not solve the state’s budget problems, and would instead unfairly penalize the people of Wisconsin.

We stand with the working families in Wisconsin and wish them luck in their struggle.


by Northwestern Living Wage Campaign

http://www.nulivingwages.org


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Jobs With Justice
http://www.jwjblog.org/

Worker Solidarity Rallies Planned

By jwjnational, on February 19th, 2011

Albany rallies for WI workers on Feb 18. Photo by John Flanders.

The week of February 21st, workers, community, faith, and students will come together to rally in support of workers under attack in Wisconsin and across the country.  Below is a list of actions we know are planned so far.  More details ar e coming in all the time, so check back for updates.  Please post in the comments if you’re planning something or email us & we’ll add it to the list.

(Last updated February 21, 2011 at 11:30am)

Juneau, AK
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, State Capitol

Little Rock, AR
Tueesday, February 22 . 11:30am, State Capitol

Phoenix, AZ
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:00pm.  Pershing Square

Oakland, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm at the State Building (15th and Clay — one block west of City Hall)

Palmdale, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm.  Vigil at Poncitian Square

Sacramento, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm.  State Capitol, West steps

San Diego, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:30pm.  3737 Camino del Rio South (Rep. Davis’ office)

Denver, CO
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, Colorado State House

Washington, DC
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:30pm. 444 North Capitol St NW (offices of WI Gov and OH Gov); Feeder march from Dupont Circle starting at 11:30am also in the works.

Hartford, CT
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:00pm, State Capitol West Steps

Orlando, FL
Thursday, February 24 . 6:30pm.  In front of the University of Central Florida.

Palm Bay, FL
Monday, February 28. 1:00pm and 6:00pm.  Town Hall meetings with Reps Tobia and Workman at City Hall.

Atlanta, GA
Wednesday, February 23 . 4:00pm-6:00pm. State Capitol

Chicago, IL
Monday, February 21 . 6:00am, Plumber’s Hall.  Buses to Madison, WI returning at 9pm.  Contact Chicago JwJ to reserve a seat.

Peoria, IL
Thursday, February 24 . 5:00pm. Peoria County Courthouse.

Urbana, IL
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm.  Alma Mater statue, Green and Wright Streets, Urbana, U of I campus.

Indianapolis, IN
Monday, February 21 · 9:00am – 5:00pm, Indiana State House, Room 156A in the basement.  This is a hearing on IN’s Right to Work Bill.
Tuesday, February 22 . 9am – 5:00pm, Indiana State House.  Faith Service at 10:30, RALLY – 12:30, Grassroots Lobbying – Afternoon, Closing rally: 5:00 – SIT IN HAPPENING NOW!

South Bend, IN
Monday, February 21 . 10:00am.  Teamsters Local 364 2405 East Edison Rd.  Workers’ Rights Board Hearing on Right to Work

Des Moines, IA
Tuesday, February 22 . 1:00pm, State Capitol west steps (a counter-rally will be held at 12pm)

Annapolis, MD
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, Lawyer’s Mall.  MD AFL-CIO for more info

Boston, MA
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm – 6:00pm
, Massachusetts State House

Springfield, MA
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm, City Hall, W. Mass JwJ for more info

Lansing, MI
Tuesday, February 22 . 9:00am . 215 N. Capitol (corner of Ottawa) Central United Methodist Church
Tuesday, February 22 . 10:00am.  MI AFL-CIO Press Conference.

Duluth, MN
Thursday, February 24 . 12:00pm. City Hall.

Saint Paul, MN
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm – 5:00pm. Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda

Helena, MT
Monday, February 21 . 2:00pm . 1301 East 6th Avenue

Santa Fe, NM
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:15pm. State House East side

Trenton, NJ
Friday, February 25 . 12:00pm. State House.

New York, NY
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:00pm. Wisconsin Solidarity Rally at FOX News at 6th Ave. and 48th St.
Thursday, February 24 . www.civilservicetechnicalguild.org for details

Raliegh, NC
Monday, February 21 . 11:00am AFL-CIO  press conference; 12:00pm rally at  North Carolina State Capitol, UE Local 150 for more info

Carson City, NV
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Las Vegas, NV
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. State Building

Canton, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:00pm.  Rally against SB5 at the Civic Center, 1101 Market Ave. N.

Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . various.  Buses to Columbus for Ohio’s SB5 hearing.  Contact Cleveland JwJ for details.

Columbus, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . 1:00pm, Ohio State House.  This rally is in before a hearing on Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 at 4pm, which would ban collective bargaining for public workers.

Portland, OR
Saturday, February 26 . 4:00pm. Pioneer Square

Salem, OR
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. Oregon State House, Rally for Education & Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers, contact Portland JwJ for details

Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, February 24. 11:30am-2:30pm. Tom Paine Plaza, in front of the MSB, across from City Hall

Pittsburgh, PA
Thursday, February 24. 12:00pm. USW Headquarters

Scranton, PA
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:00pm, Lackawanna Court House

Statewide, PA
Tuesday, February 22. WEAR RED to show solidarity

San Juan, PR
Monday, February 21 . State Capitol, contact PR AFL-CIO for details

Providence, RI
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:30pm – 7:30pm
, Rhode Island State House

Nashville, TN
Wednesday, February 23 . 11:30am.  State Capitol, Legislative Plaza in front of the escalators to the tunnel. Rally & Press conference “Stop the Attack on Hardworking Tennesseans”

Austin, TX
Monday, February 21. 6:45pm. Candlelight march & vigil starting at AFL-CIO 1106 Lavaca Street.

Dallas, TX
Saturday, February 26 . 10:00am. Hearing at 410 S Beckley (Judge Medrano’s Room)

Salt Lake City, UT
Tuesday, February 22.  State Capitol, contact UT AFL-CIO for details

Montpelier, VT
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Olympia, WA
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm.  State Capitol Rotunda

Spokane, WA
Friday, February 25 . 4:30pm-5:30pm.  Corner of Ruby, Division and North River Drive in front of Wendy’s Restaurant

Charleston, WV
Monday, February 21 . Lobby Day.  Contact AFSCME for details

Madison, WI
Rallies at the Statehouse continue.

West Bend, WI
Sunday, February 27 . 12:00pm-3:00pm. Corner of Paradise & Main St.

VARIOUS
February 26.  See www.usuncut.org for details.

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Tens of thousands march in Wisconsin in support of union rights

by Scott Bauer

Madison, Wisconsin— The Associated Press

Published Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 6:06PM EST


No resolution appeared imminent Monday to the stalemate over union rights in Wisconsin that has riveted the country and led to ongoing public protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people.

As the standoff entered its second week, thousands braved cold winds and freezing temperatures to march again on Monday, waving signs that said “Stop the attack on Wisconsin families” and “solidarity.” The protests drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday.

The dispute in the Midwestern state is being watched across America because if Republican Governor Scott Walker prevails in Wisconsin, other conservative Republican governors may try to go after powerful public employee unions as part of their budget-cutting policies.

Defeating the Wisconsin bill and others like it is crucial for public-sector unions, an important part of the Democratic Party base. President Barack Obama and other Democrats will need the strong support of unions in the 2012 elections — especially in key swing states like Wisconsin — to counter a huge influx of corporate funds allowed under a Supreme Court decision last year.

The 14 state Senate Democrats who skipped town Thursday to indefinitely delay a vote on Gov. Walker's bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees remained missing in action for a fifth day.

“You have shut down the people's government, and that is not acceptable,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said during a brief meeting Monday setting the agenda for Tuesday's Senate session.

Two of the missing Democrats participated by phone from an undisclosed location.

“You're not in negotiations. There is no negotiation,” Mr. Fitzgerald said, cutting off one of the Democrats on the phone. “You need to get back to the floor of the Senate and offer any ideas you may have on final passage. That's where we're at. There is no negotiation.”

Both the Senate and Assembly planned to be in session on Tuesday to take up the bill, but at least one of the missing Democrats needed to show up for a vote to be taken in the Senate. Assembly Democrats planned to offer dozens of amendments that could push a vote into Wednesday or later.

That left Senate Republicans resigned to forge ahead with less-controversial business such as tax breaks for dairy farmers and commending the local Green Bay Packers football team on winning the Super Bowl.

The Democratic senators taking part in the scheduling meeting urged Republicans to accept the offer made by the unions under which they would accept paying more for benefits as Gov. Walker wants but still retain their collective bargaining rights.

Another compromise offered by Republican Senator Dale Schultz would remove collective bargaining rights just for two years

“It's time for all of us to move forward,” said Democratic Senator Dave Hansen over the phone to the Republicans.

Gov. Walker has rejected both offers, saying local governments and school districts can't be hamstrung by the often lengthy collective bargaining process and need to have more flexibility to deal with up to $1-billion in cuts he will propose in his budget next week and into the future.

“It will never get to me because other than that one state senator, all the rest of the Republicans are firmly behind our proposal,” Gov. Walker said in an MSNBC interview on Monday, calling it an unacceptable short-term fix.

The emergency plan he wants the Legislature to pass would address this year's $137-million shortfall and start dealing with the $3.6-billion hole expected by mid-2013. The benefits concessions would amount to $30-million this year, but the largest savings Gov. Walker proposed comes from refinancing debt to save $165-million.

That portion must be done by Friday for bonds to be refinanced in time to realize the savings by June 30, the end of this fiscal year.

Gov. Walker said not passing the bill by Friday would make even deeper cuts necessary and possibly result in laying off 1,500 workers over the next four months.

Thousands of those affected and their supporters marched on the Capitol for a seventh straight day. Hundreds of them have been sleeping in the rotunda every night and several districts have had to close after so many teachers called in sick. The Madison School District was closed Wednesday through Monday but was expected to reopen Tuesday.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com

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AFL/CIO Now blog

http://blog.aflcio.org/

Check Out Great Video and Audio Clips from Wisconsin Events

 by Tula Connell, Feb 22, 2011




  

TONS of great video clips from Wisconsin.

Here is a list of links. Check them out and get inspired.

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"What's Disgusting? Union Busting!" Chant Wisconsin Crowds That Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver

by John Nichols

Published on Thursday, February 17, 2011 by The Nation

"I have never been prouder of our movement than I am at this moment,"  shouted Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, as he surveyed the crowds of union members and their supporters that surged around the state Capitol and into the streets of Madison Wednesday, literally closing the downtown as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites protested their Republican governor’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

Where Tuesday’s mid-day protests drew crowds estimated at 12,000 to 15,000, Wednesday's mid-day rally drew 30,000, according to estimates by organizers.  Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, a veteran of 27 years on the city’s force, said he had has never see a protest of this size at the Capitol – and he noted that, while crowd estimates usually just measure those outside, this time the inside of the sprawling state Capitol was “packed.”
On Wednesday night, an estimated 20,000 teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Capitol and then marched into the building, filling the rotunda, stairways and hallways. Chants of "What's disgusting? Union busting!" shook the building as legislators met in committee rooms late into the night.

Protestors to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers demonstrate in at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Manis) The country was starting to take notice, as broadcast and cable-news satellite trucks rolled into town. The images they captured were stunning, as peaceful crowds filled vast stretches of the square that surrounds the seat of state government.

Republican legislators -- who had been poised to pass the governor’s plan Thursday, and might yet do so  – were clearly paying attention. Two GOP senators broke with the governor, at least to some extent. Dale Schultz from rural southeastern Wisconsin and Van Wanggaard from the traditional manufacturing center of Racine, proposed an alternative bill that would allow limit bargaining rights for public employees on wages, pensions and health care for the next two years but allow them to continue to bargain on other issues.

While that’s hardly an attractive prospect to state workers – as it would also require them to make significantly higher pension and health-care contributions –  the measure rejects the most draconian component’s of the governor’s plan. Other Republicans resisted the proposal, however, offering only minor amendments to the governor's plan.

If Schultz and Wanggaard actually vote "no" Thursday, when the measure is to be taken up, just one more Republican senator would have to join them in order to block the bill.

That the first real movement by Republicans came after Wednesday’s rally was hardly surprising, as few state capital’s have seen the sort of mobilization that occurred at mid-day, and that is likely to reoccur at nightfall as teachers from across the state are expected to pour into the city for a rally and candlelight vigil.

In some senses, Wednesday’s remarkable rally began Tuesday evening, when Madison Teachers Inc., the local education union, announced that teachers would leave their classrooms to spend the day lobbying legislators to “Kill the Bill” that has been proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker.

The teachers showed up en masse in downtown Madison Wednesday morning.

And then something remarkable happened.

Instead of taking the day off, their students gathered at schools on the west and east sides of Madison and marched miles along the city’s main thoroughfares to join the largest mass demonstration the city has seen in decades – perhaps since the great protests of the Vietnam War era.

Thousands of high school students arrived at the Capital Square, coming from opposite directions, chanting: “We support our teachers! We support public education!”

Thousands of University of Wisconsin students joined them, decked out in the school’s red-and-white colors.

Buses rolled in from every corner of the state, from Racine and Kenosha in the southeast to Green Bay in the northeast, from La Crosse on the Mississippi River to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan.

Buses and cars arrived from Illinois and Minnesota and as far away as Kansas, as teachers and public employees from those states showed up at what American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union president Gerald McEntee says is “ground zero “in the struggle for labor rights in America.

The moms and dads of the elementary school kids came, and the kids, carrying hand-lettered signs:

“I love my teacher!”

“Scott Walker needs to go back to school!”

“Scott Walker needs a time out!”

And, “We are Wisconsin!

“I’ve been here since the 1960s, I’ve seen great demonstrations,” said former Mayor Paul Soglin, a proud former student radical who was nominated for a new term in Tuesday’s local primary election. “This is different. This is everyone – everyone turning out.”

Everyone except the governor, who high-tailed it out of town, launching a tour of outlying communities in hopes of drumming up support for his bill. Most of the support Walker was getting was coming from national conservative political groups, such as the Club for Growth, which have long hoped to break public-employee unions. But the governor held firm, saying after a day of unprecedented protests – in Madison and small towns and cities across the state – that he still wanted to pass his bill. He’s got strong support in the overwhelmingly Republican Assembly. But he cannot afford to lose one more Republican state senator. And the unions and their backers are determined to find that one Republican who is smart enough and honest enough to recognize that the governor's assault of public employees is an assault on Wisconsin itself.
 
The state's largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council has called on its 98,000 members to come to rally in their hometowns and then come to the Capitol. "All citizens of Wisconsin should come to Madison!" reads the call. Tens of thousands will come. The state, county and municipal employees will come. The nurses will come. The small business owners will come. The parents and students will come. They will ask the question: "What's disgusting?" And they will answer with a roar: "Union busting!"

© 2011 The Nation
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