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Large Rally in Wisconsin Against Stripping Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Employees

An extremely large crowd of 5,000 activists, by some estimates, has gathered at the state Capitol in Madison, protesting the attempt by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans to strip collective bargaining rights for public employees. Earlier today, high school students in a nearby city in Wisconsin walked out of class in solidarity with their teachers.

About 100 high school students in Stoughton walked out of class Monday to support their teachers who are trying to hang onto their union bargaining rights.

Junior Theron Luhn helped organize the protest. He said, “Let’s show Gov. Walker that we care about learning, and the teachers are worth every cent that we pay to them.” […]

Students and teachers from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee held protest rallies against Gov. Walker’s plans for public employee unions.

In Madison hundreds of people chanted “Kill this bill” as they filled the hallway leading to Walker’s office. They poured valentines on the desk of an office guard, asking the governor not to break their hearts. They chanted and stomped on the floor for a few minutes then left without incident.

At UW-Milwaukee, one protestor carried a sign asking, “Did Wisconsin elect a king?”

Facebook has been a hub for political organizing around this issue. The group Protect Wisconsin Families has the most active page.

Members of the world champion Green Bay Packers joined the union rallies today, and they signed a letter supporting the efforts of the AFL-CIO to fight this proposed stripping of their right to organize.

Walker announced that he would give his budget address away from the Capitol for the first time in many years. And a public hearing on the bill could take hours, as the thousands at the rally seek to make public comment. However, despite this pressure at the Capitol, the State Senate claims to have the votes for passage:

The president of the Wisconsin state Senate says there are enough votes among Republicans to pass Gov. Scott Walker’s plan. Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah told The Associated Press that there are the 17 votes needed in the 19-member Republican caucus to pass Walker’s proposal. Ellis says senators are worried that not passing the plan would lead to thousands of layoffs.

This will likely be decided in the next several days by the legislature. However, unions could sue the state and get a temporary injuction blocking it from going into effect.

UPDATE: Video of one of the student walkouts:

UPDATE II: The Wisconsin State Journal reports over 10,000 in Madison today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen