Around the US, rallies lend moral support to Wisconsin public workers
Public employees protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to weaken collective bargaining in Wisconsin have been joined by steelworkers, teamsters, nurses, airline pilots, and other private sector workers. In state capitals around the country, supporters rallied as well.
In Pictures Wisconsin protest signs
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Demonstrators in Madison have been at it for two weeks now, camped out in the capitol building and filling the chilly streets in protest of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to gut most collective bargaining rights for teachers, social workers, snow plow drivers, and other public employees across the state.
As they chanted "This is what democracy looks like," demonstrators in Madison Saturday hoped to top the 70,000 that had gathered last weekend. They’ve been joined by steelworkers, teamsters, nurses, airline pilots, and other private sector union workers. Around the country, in state capitals and other towns and cities, supporters rallied as well.
So far, everything in Madison has remained peaceful with law enforcement officers acting more like chaperones at a mass sleepover.
But those hundreds of people camped out in the capitol rotunda – resting on sleeping bags or munching on gift pizzas ordered by supporters across the country (and, according to one report, by a sympathetic fellow-traveler in Egypt) – face an important decision Sunday: Whether to leave then, as the police have said they must do so the place can be cleaned up, or stay put and risk arrest.
Meanwhile, the political impasse continues.
As Democratic lawmakers cried “shame, shame!” majority Republicans in the Wisconsin state Assembly abruptly cut off debate and passed Walker’s bill just after midnight Friday morning. But there things stand, with Senate Democrats (also in the minority) still holed up beyond state borders, denying Republicans the quorum necessary to pass the bill.
Some Republican governors have been enthusiastic in their support for Walker. Some, but not all.
“A few governors have embraced Walker’s politically-risky proposals on collective bargaining but the majority of them want no part of it, preferring a more conciliatory approach to public employee unions,” report James Hohmann and Alex Isenstadt at Politico.com. “They don’t want to spend political capital in a bloody flight with unions that either don’t have enough juice in their states to warrant their attention or, on the other hand, are too powerful to beat.”