MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight Republican-backed efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that “Madison is only the beginning.”

The crowd roared in approval as Moore implored demonstrators to keep up their struggle against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation, comparing their fight to Egypt’s revolt. He also thanked the 14 state Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to block a vote on the bill, saying they’ll go down in history books.

“We’re going to do this together. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up,” Moore told the protesters, who have held steady at the Capitol for nearly three weeks. Police have said a crowd of about 70,000 showed up on Feb. 19, and an even larger crowd rallied Feb. 26.

Moore said the wealthy have overreached, first taking the working class’ money and then taking their souls by shutting them up at the bargaining table. The crowd yelled “thank you” before Moore began to speak, and he responded: “All of America thanks you, Wisconsin.”

Walker has said the legislation is needed to help ease a state deficit projected to hit $3.6 billion by mid-2013, though opponents see it as an effort to weaken unions.

Negotiations between Democrats and Republican broke down Thursday, though communication lines remain open, said Sen. Tim Cullen, one of the Democrats who fled the state. Cullen said it’s difficult for either side to compromise, since Democrats don’t want to lose support from their base and Walker doesn’t want to appear weak by backing down.

Walker’s spokesman didn’t return a message Saturday, though the governor has said that he won’t compromise on the collective bargaining issue or anything that saves the state money.

Two other Democratic senators joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago to urge Walker to negotiate with workers. Sen. Lena Taylor said Democrats left because they “needed to slow the bill down” after it was approved unchanged in the state Assembly.

“I ask the governor, ‘Do your job. Come to the table and speak to Wisconsin workers,”‘ Taylor said. “We agree that fiscally we need to do things differently. We even agree that there are some places where we need to talk about how we negotiate. … However we refuse to accept in America that we don’t believe that a voice at the table is an option. It is not an option of a leader and it surely is not the Wisconsin way.”

Sen. Chris Larson urged protestors to stay strong.

“We’ve been here for the last 16 days we’ll continue to be here until worker’s rights are removed as the target in this budget repair bill by our governor,” he said.

Activists began a sit-in at the Capitol on Feb. 15, and although a judge ended protestors’ overnight stays late last week, several hundred were back in the rotunda Saturday chanting “Who’s house? Our house!” and “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Scott Walker’s got to go!”

Renee Peplinski, a fifth-grade teacher in Wisconsin Rapids, said she doesn’t mind making financial concessions to help the state even though it would hurt her family. She’s more concerned about losing her collective bargaining rights. Without union protections, teachers would be at the mercy of administrators who could decide to fire them for any perceived slight, she said.

“Every teacher I know is depressed,” said Peplinski, 42. “Every minute of the day there’s this black cloud.”
Outside, hundreds of people marched in the streets, banging drums and carrying signs that read “No one has ever died from overexposure to education” and “Worst bill ever.”

Walker has said the bill is needed to ease a deficit that could hit $137 million by July and $3.6 billion by the middle of 2013. His proposal comes up with the money for this year in part by forcing state employees to pay for half the cost of their pensions and twice their current health care premiums — concessions equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut.

With the labor bill stalled, Walker said layoffs may be necessary so the state can start to realize the $30 million savings he had assumed would come from the concessions. All state workers, except those at prisons, state hospitals and other facilities open around the clock, would be potential layoff targets.

Walker informed state employee unions Friday that he intends to issue layoff notices to 1,500 workers that would be effective on April 4.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (35)
  1. mark from says:

    Fat Slob, Socialist Pig, He sold out America as he makes millions

    1. john from says:

      Your such a dirty slimebag! You pig. Your the one that is fat and disgusting. i pictures of your fat lazy ass on your webpage d-bag!

  2. Tom Maine says:

    This guy is a JOKE. Why does anyone pay attention to this idiot. He says rich folks money is ours, yet he keeps his own seperate. He should go to some communist country and stay there and be happy with what the gov. gives him.

  3. Victim Du Jour says:

    “Waiting for Superman”, a film about Public Schools is being ignored by the media.

  4. paul says:

    Michael Moore tells it like it is, but the right gets mad because it hates the truth.

    1. mark from says:

      SOOOOOOO Paul, is it right that he lies?

    2. Victim Du Jour says:

      Micheal Moore is good at Cherry Pick editing. Like the part in his 911 movie where Bush is saying “Haves and Have mores”, he clipped out Al Gore sitting at his table with him, and didn’t want his audience know that dinner is for Catholic Charity, and the speakers traditionally make fun of themselves at that event.

  5. HHH says:

    Many have suffered from worsened working conditions because they don’t have unions to protect their rights. If you think that unions are no longer needed, just remember; in times of economic difficulty, the worker is most vulnerable to oppression. Trust me, those on top are not going to suffer. They have succeeded in turning workers against one another. I’ll tell you one thing; all of you non-union workers out there who had to make concessions when the times were bad, are going to have a difficult time getting their rights back when the times are good, because they have no one to represent them. Instead of trying to bring down those who presently have better conditions, they should instead be fighting for better conditions for themselves.

  6. mark from says:

    This clown will make a film about WI, leave the unions behind as he makes his way to the bank

    1. Jerry says:

      Mark at the, why don’t you take your smart mouth over to the Green Bay Packers website and complain about over paid players?

      1. mark from says:

        Hey Jerry, your crossing a line when you mock my team. Easy Cowboy

  7. LikeItIs says:

    Of course he wants them to continue…so he can make a movie out of it an make millions more. MM is typical hollyweird garbage.

  8. reagan says:

    Michael Moore = Waste of Space

  9. Victim Du Jour says:

    Micheal Moore movies are liberal diarrhea.

  10. bob says:

    give all of us the same pay and benefits,then we b equal

  11. terry says:

    I thought it was the democrats that weren’t “at the table” to negotiate. The governer is waiting at the table for the disappearing democrats.

  12. Bruce says:

    This is great, bring in the ultimate socialist to show the truth about unions. I love it. I hope Moore talks the unions into Castros Medical Plan that he talks about, he would save the tax payers millions.

  13. Victim Du Jour says:

    We still have labor laws And government agencies enforcing them with or without Unions.

  14. Jerry says:

    Labor laws obviously don’t protect the workers right to negotiate a living wage, nor do they keep jobs in the USA. At this rate it won’t be long and the wealthy will be sending their kids out of the country to get educated.

  15. Jon says:

    Taxwaste there you go again,take mn. Out of your title because your an embarrassment to the state along with the other LIMBAUGH soldiers.backing corrupt politicians over average Americans .SAD

  16. Allah says:

    This pile of garbage shows up to find his next “hate America” movie…..he always shows up to help the poor and needy…..then makes a billion….and flies his jet out of town…..funny… you think he ever really helped anyone???? Or does he just keep getting fatter…..and becoming more and more like….what he is so against….

  17. A Big Fan of MM says:

    No need to get overly defensive people, we understand that the truth hurts.
    Keep them coming Michael.

    1. yeaaaaaaa for MM says:

      did he do the movie about fast food places ? it looks like it. any how. I agree keep’em coming MM I like to see how stupid some people are.

  18. Victim Du Jour says:

    The Truth is, the people of Wisconsin are fed up with the Teachers Union. The People elected a GOP governor and a GOP majority in the State Legislature.

    Micheal Moore is not a big deal at all.

    1. helper says:

      Yeah, and right now they are realizing how they shot themselves in the foot by electing such phonies. 2012 will come along and we can rid ourselves of the filth called the republicans…LOL!

      See ya you schmuck!

      1. helper says:

        And yeah… teachers are getting paid tons for what they do…

        Unlike you they went to college…. probably could have been paid lots more if they would have chosen a different path… but decided to help people.

        I hope you didn’t breed ’cause we don’t need more of your trailer park thinking…

      2. Victim Du Jour says:

        Sorry, but people who go to highschools in country places with trailer parks are more likely to go to college.

        The missing Senators are the ones with the worst performing school
        districts in the State.

  19. bob says:

    if the govenor and lawmakers past and present would give up thier cushy retirement benefits and insurance the states would have a surplus.

  20. Dude says:

    When Michael Moore takes your side, it’s probably time to reconsider your position.

  21. A Big Fan of MM says:

    When Michael Moore takes your side, it’s time to apply for welfare.

  22. Good Touch Bad Touch says:

    Is it just me?? Or does everyone want to grab Moore by his ears and go all “Deliverance” on his arse?? You know support the Teachers by teaching Moore all about “bad touch”…..

  23. A Big Fan of MM says:

    Her parents did raise any dummy.

    Private Sector

  24. John L says:

    i am so glad to hear michael moore say that, because i cant wait til he & all his actor buddies lay down their millions to help this country. thank you michael. tell us michael when r u going to give the govt ur millions?

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