100,000 Protest In Madison; Recall of Walker on Track
“I have never, never, never seen anything like this,” said Scott Becher, a former Republican legislative aide who now runs a political consulting and public relations firm outside the capital. “Democrats have never been more energized.”
Democrats are circulating petitions to recall 8 Republican state senators who approved the controversial measure.
This past weekend 100,000 protestors showed up in Madison, Wisconsin to show their solidarity against the recently signed bill by Governor Walker to strip collective bargaining and decimate Wisconsin public education. Included in the crowd were Wisconsin dairy farmers. I have to say, I am proud of my fellow Wisconsonians. They will be taking this all the way until Scott Walker is recalled.
Chicago Tribune reports: MADISON, Wis (Reuters) – Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican governor, won his battle last week to get the curbs he backed on public-sector unions approved by the state legislature and signed into law.
But the Democratic Party and organized labor, which opposed the bill, show signs of being energized by the setback, which up-ends more than 50 years of collective bargaining by nurses, highway workers, nurses and other Wisconsin public employees.
Mark Pocan, a Democratic member of the Assembly who opposed the Walker bill, told protesters this week: “They may have won the battle, but I guarantee you they’ve lost the war.”
With Republican majorities in both the state Assembly and the Senate making a legislative counter-attack impossible, Democrats and their allies are focusing their hopes on a number of fronts, including eventually a recall campaign for Walker.
“Rock on, keep the faith and don’t worry,” said one protester, Amy Barlow Liberatore. “Recalls are coming.”
Under Wisconsin state law, however, Walker’s foes can’t even circulate a petition to recall him until January 3, 2012, his one-year anniversary in office.
But a group called United Wisconsin has set up a website (http://www.unitedwisconsin.com/) it says already has 149,000 voters pledge to sign the recall petitions next year. More than 540,000 signatures will be necessary to launch a recall.
As many as 100,000 people protested at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Saturday against the new curbs on public worker unions, and they greeted as returning heroes 14 Democratic lawmakers who had fled the state to stall the measure.
About 70,000 protesters had massed a week earlier, before a legislative maneuver by Republicans in the senate hived off the controversial union measure from a budget bill and pushed it through without a single Democrat present.
“You do not understand,” Assembly minority leader Pete Barca told the giant rally on Saturday, addressing Governor Walker. “Rights die hard in America.”
Wisconsin was birthplace for some of the first U.S. unions among foundry, shoe and paper workers in the 19th century. It was the first state to pass worker compensation protections in 1911, unemployment compensation in 1932, and public employee collective bargaining rights in 1959, according to the Wisconsin Labor History Society.
The new law, by contrast, strips public sector unions of collective bargaining rights except for wages, with increases limited to the level of inflation. Pay rises above inflation have to be put to a referendum of voters. Unions have to be recertified by annual votes of members and dues collected privately. Health insurance and pension contributions rise.