Madison, WI - The struggle at the Wisconsin State Capitol to defeat the union-busting Budget Repair Bill held strong through its 9th day, Feb. 23. The state Capitol remained occupied and as early as 7:30 a.m. the chants of "Kill the bill" could be heard from all over. Over 50 Sheet Metal workers, many laid off, came marching up to the capitol at 8:00 a.m., chanting "Union Power!"
The State Assembly met today amidst loud protests and chants, discussing amendments to the bill.
Protesters in the hundreds followed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to the Monona Terrace today, a building a few blocks from the Capitol where Walker was to meet with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce annual business day participants. Led by the Wisconsin Wave and Defend Wisconsin, the protest was a way of drawing attention to the corporate backers behind Scott Walker's anti-union agenda.
The high level of organization within the Capitol Building is one example of the protesters’ determination to continue with the occupation. The building is clean because a rotating team of volunteers mop and pick up trash. A food table on the third floor offers donated breads, cheeses, vegetables and drinks. Early risers this morning got a scoop of an egg scramble and a hot cup of coffee. A pharmacy exists around the corner, with donated vitamins, band aids and toothpaste. The second floor has an information station where students and visitors may check in to share events, fliers and events.
The entire building is coated with posters, banners and leaflets. At 3:00 a.m. one morning, patrolling police tore down all posters from the Capitol walls, but in the morning the protesters put them right back up.
In the early afternoon today, as people began to mobilize for larger rallies and marches, news arrived of a prank call to Gov. Scott Walker. A caller posing as a major contributor to Walker’s campaign recorded Scott Walker likening his union busting efforts to that of Ronald Reagan's firing of the air traffic controllers in the early 1980s. Walker also revealed his consideration of sending in protest wreckers and a plan to trick the 14 State Senate Democrats who fled Wisconsin to come back to session in order to ram his union-busting bill through.
"Every once in a while the curtain get pulled back and you get to see how things really work," commented one protester after listening to the 20-minute prank call.
Day in day out, it becomes more apparent than ever that Gov. Walker's Budget Repair Bill is nothing more than a shameful attack on workers and their organizations.