Wis. Labor Protesters Say Next Fight At The Polls

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Clogging the Wisconsin Capitol grounds and screaming angry chants, tens of thousands of undaunted pro-labor protesters descended on Madison again Saturday and vowed to focus on future elections now that contentious cuts to public worker union rights have become law.

Protests have rocked the Capitol almost every day since Gov. Scott Walker proposed taking nearly all collective bargaining rights away from public workers, but the largest came a day after the governor signed the measure into law. Madison Police estimated the crowd at 85,000 to 100,000 people — along with 50 tractors and one donkey — by late afternoon. No one was arrested.

Speakers delivered angry diatribes while the crowd carried signs comparing Walker to dictators and yelled thunderous chants of “this is what democracy looks like.”

“This is so not the end,” said protester Judy Gump, a 45-year-old English teacher at Madison Memorial High School. “This is what makes people more determined and makes them dig in.”

Walker’s signature on the measure capped a week of political maneuvering to end a bitter, month-long standoff that began when the state’s 14 Democratic senators fled to Illinois in an ultimately futile attempt to block the legislation.

Throngs of protesters gathered Saturday outside a convention center where senators made their first public appearances in Madison since ending their self-imposed exile. Demonstrators treated the lawmakers like rock stars, yelling “Fab 14, our heroes!” and giddily snapping pictures.

All 14 Democrats later marched around the Capitol, trading chants of “thank you” with protesters who ringed the sidewalks. When the senators made their way to a stage, they promised to shift their energies toward recall drives already under way against eight of their GOP colleagues.

“Now … we trade in our rally signs for clipboards and we take to the streets to recall the Republicans,” Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee told the cheering crowd, “and in one year we recall the governor that refuses to listen.”

Walker is not eligible to be recalled until he completes his first year in office in January 2012.

Eight of the Democrats also face recall efforts. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a statement Saturday calling them the most shameful 14 people in the state.

“(Fleeing to Illinois) is an absolute insult to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who are struggling to find a job, much less one they can run away from and go down to Illinois — with pay,” Fitzgerald said.

Walker’s plan has spurred a national debate over labor rights. Its passage is a key victory for Republicans who have targeted unions in efforts to cut government spending across the country. Democrats see it as a blatant attempt to weaken organized labor, one of their strongest campaign allies.

Labor leaders have promised to use the setback to fire up members and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012.

“We’re never going to give up,” said Marilyn Rolfsmeyer, 56, who serves as the 300-student Argyle School District’s only art teacher. “What part of it don’t they understand? There’s hope here. I feel it. You feel the energy, the intensity. Somebody’s got to be out there feeling it, too.”

Dozens of fist-pumping farmers drew cheers as they chugged around the Capitol square in tractors bearing signs with messages such as “planting the seeds for a big season of recalls.”

Tod Pulvermacher, 33, of Bear Valley, towed a manure spreader carrying a sign that read, “Walker’s bill belongs here.”

“Farmers are working-class Americans,” he said as the crowd cheered. “We work for a living as hard as anybody, and this is about all of us.”

Walker has repeatedly argued that ending collective bargaining gives local governments much-needed flexibility to confront cuts in state aid necessary to fix Wisconsin’s deficit, which is expected to grow to $3.6 billion deficit over two years.

The new law erases public workers’ ability to collectively bargain anything except wages up to the rate of inflation. It also requires them to contribute more to their pensions and health care, changes that amount to an 8 percent pay cut. Police and firefighters are exempt.

The Senate Democrats had fled to deny Republicans, who hold a 19-14 Senate majority, the 20-member quorum needed to vote on measures that spend money. But GOP leaders worked around them Wednesday, calling a special committee to take spending items out of Walker’s proposal.

The Senate passed it 18-1 minutes later. Assembly Republicans approved it the next day.

Democratic Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the secretary of state from publishing the law, the last step before it takes effect. She argues the bill still contained fiscal items and that the committee meeting violated Wisconsin’s open meeting law.

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

  • Zingbopper

    Just goes to show, it’s not about the kid’s, it’s about the money.
    Before all this happened, you would here,” I teach because I love the children”, not so much anymore.
    Go home cry babies, the law has passed. Be thankful you have a job, and a good one at that. Do they actually think the general public has any sympathy for them ?

    • Walker

      Teachers do not make 90 grand a year. Blame the union? perhaps the place he worked for was managed poorly, manufactured things no one wanted, or he was just plainly a poor worker. If he is a nurse and has too much experience, it is not the union’s fault

    • Oldiesjunkie2000

      My company is not union. I was taken out of my warehouse position that I held for 10 years, I was told that I wasn’t a good fit. The company now employs 90% temps (illegals, most cannot speak English) . A union would not have allowed this to happen, and maybe your husband would have a job here.

    • Timmy

      I would think the Teachers would be doing something more consturctive. At this point they are wasting time protesting. Nothing they can do now but continue to LOVE there job and the Children. Correct?? They do really love the kids .. right?? Grow up and deal with it TEACHERS. You are not teaching good lessons right now. I am a High School student and the teachers reallly dont care. Some of them do but most dont give a damn and just pass you through.

      • Sum It Up

        Timmy, Do NOT give ANYONE incl. peers, adults/teachers-
        POWER OVER YOUR OWN self-confidence/esteem…
        Y-O-U ROCK too much to fall through ANY cracks-
        Where there’s a will, there IS a way. NEVER forget THAT-
        !!!YOU CAN!!!~

      • Nikki

        you guys are gay

    • Christopher Restemayer

      If you have evidence that company is hiring illegals, then report them to INS! Personally, I just think you’re angry that your job was given to a Hispanic man who was willing to do the same job for less. Deal with it.

    • Thekhanvict

      I love my job, but I wouldn’t work for free. Which is apparently what you think teachers should do…. Also they agreed to paycuts and to pay for part of their healthcare. The protest is about collective bargaining rights.

      • thinkforyourself

        I really hope these knee-jerk angry conservatives keep posting. It is so good to be reminded of what is wrong.

        In fact, nearly half of Wisconsin voters voted against Walker. And now that his agenda is clearer, more than half of the voters would vote against him. We are all scared of large paycuts (except for the very wealthy, like Walker). And we all see the danger of this narrow, mean, and illogical thinking.

    • Whirly

      I would say seeing 2/3 of the public support favors the workers and not the foolish anti-worker corporate lackeys, that yes, those people DO have the public support.

  • lorenz

    Time for some arrests and a little jail time. Given the quality of the teachers I know, the schoolchildren won’t fall far behind.

  • mark from mntaxwaste.com

    Can I help Mace them if they don’t leave. I would love to give the unions a taste

    • Peter

      There is nothing in the report that says there is anything but a peaceable demonstration, yet you want to do violence to them. HATEFUL ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF AN UNWED MOTHER. Perhaps you should seek attention for the condition of feeling so hateful to people. Your posts are full of hate. Never a solution to a problem. Never constructive, yet they proliferate this site.Free speech all you want, but at some point don’t you have to become a human being? And don’t say I am some more hateful words and attach the label liberal to me. You know nothing about me other than the name attached.

    • Whirly

      Good luck with that. The crowd is 70,000 strong pro-worker – you pull that mace can out and it will be shoved exactly where Sen Walker’s bill should have been shoved in the first place. Enjoy your idiot governor while he still has a job.

  • Thewho

    Go back to work like the real working class does in the Private sector!!!

    • mg

      No kidding…get to work already and just be glad you have a job.

    • How About Them Apples

      Yes, join the spineless boot lickers in the private sector.

  • threebigrocks

    Sooooo, they’re gonna do this…indefinately???

  • Average Joe

    “Judy Gump says the fight is far from over. She says if the first person who got arrested during the civil rights movement had given up, the movement would have failed.”

    Typical union attitude, compare this to the Civil Rights Movement. I hate to tell you Judy, there is nothing similar about the two. The Civil Rights Movement was about Rights and fair treatment based on race. So what, do you think the union gives you the ‘right’ to have your job.

    You have a job. Be thankful for it. Quit your whining and go back to work.

    Do you know what a ‘Professional’ is. It is a person that does their job to the best of their ability. Period.

    Grow up and be responsible.

  • Freedomlover

    Some folks would want teachers to take a vow of poverty. I believe teaching our children is one the the most important jobs in the country. However, this is bigger than just money, it’s about freedom and democracy. Taking away rights is always a slippery slope one the way to facsism. I think Ronald Regan had this right when he made his famous speech for collective bargaining rights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsHXJr8tqP0

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  • b. L.

    I had a special ED teacher tell everyone at my sons IEP meeting, that if they expected her to do anything that was on his IEP, they were out of their minds. If he didn’t fit into her one size fits all special Ed room, then too bad! Can you believe that this horrible teacher was not fired on the spot and infact remains with Tenure as a Special Ed teacher in St louis Park, MN.? The district removed my son from that school and we had to start up a new program for him at another school, which cost the district more money due to this teachers demands. Now think about that when you look at Wisconsin.

    • the crux of the biscuit

      Just try putting your special ed student in a private school. You will get laughed out the door. My kinds went to a parachial school, they didn’t have any special ed or hadicapped kids. No law says they have to take em so they didn’t. They were not going to have to make the building wheel chair accessable either, that came out while my kids went there. They just flat out erfused as another student had a younger sibling that wanted to go there but couldn’t because they couldn’t navigate thru the building. The Republicans will force your special ed student out the door and to the curb if they have their way……

    • Figureitout

      Maybe you need to look in to moving to Wisconsin, in 2004 the “Director of Special Education and/or Pupil in the Lake Geneva district made $82,970.

      For that price I would think they would have a phenomenal program.

      Visit their site and see what the administration of the WI school system makes. I inderstand now why they are protesting.


      I am not trying to belittle and special ed programs, teachers, students, or parents. I know some of them do a great job, and some of them don’t, but my sister as an administrator in the education system (she makes about $45K, works about 55 hours/week) expained to me that it is extrememly difficult to fire any employee regardless of what they do or don’t do, thanks to the unions.
      If anything they are moved to a different area to become someone elses problem.

      Some teachers get paid way to little (I wouldn’t be able to handle their job), some get paid way too much, but what you need to understand is the unions don’t help anyone but themselves and the leeches.

      I guess the governor should have stepped back, and started to issue layoff notices as he had no choice. Maybe after a few weeks of layoffs the “protesters” would figure it out, maybe not.

  • atymins13

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    Find the poll here…

  • stefan

    You don’t like your working condition. Quit!!!!!! find another company that you like..

  • Christopher Restemayer

    If your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are any indication of the quality of the public education system in America then, no, I have no sympathy for the Teacher’s Union. Secondly, this fight isn’t over “collective bargaining rights”; never was. No one mentions how the unions were willing to compromise on every single issue… every single one… with the exception of making Wisconsin a “right to work” state. That is it. It isn’t about “rights”… it isn’t about “the middle class”… it isn’t even about the teachers… it’s about the unions keeping their cash-flow intact by maintaining their legal authority to fire anyone who refuses to financially support the union.

    • John

      Thanks Christopher! People need to know the facts.

    • Christopher Restemayer

      Thank you. I mean, seriously… the union leadership has flat out stated (I’m paraphrasing) that they are absolutely willing to throw the union members under the bus, as long as those same union members are still legally required to pay dues as a condition of employment. Why that aspect of it isn’t making bigger news, I have no idea.

      • MARK from mntaxwaste.com

        well said Christopher

        • Concerned Mother

          One thing about the union… is they protect the incompetant and their own… you almost have to commit a felony to get fired from your job…

          DUI… not a problem, just attend AA and you’ll be back in week

          Sex with your student? Not a problem, we’ll look the other way, heck, we’ll continue to pay your salary (leave with pay) until the news media gets a hold of you.. who knows, you could be back in the classroom in another state!!

          As long as you pay your “union dues” come on in!!

          • mark from mntaxwaste.com

            Well said Concerned Mother

    • RichOldBoysClub

      Funny you don’t seem to mention the no-contract bids that can be given to Walker’s buddies with no oversight by the state. Seems to me that is what this is REALLY about.

  • Seth

    im going to vote for Walker and will enjoy it! :)

  • wick

    With all the power unions have at getting their members to vote in a certain way, its time to realize you lost in the last election. Republicans won and just because you don’t like the outcome to bad. Why don’t the protesters join the people you elected and run away also.

  • Mr Smart

    I love how they drag civil rights into everything. If you’ve noticed lately, that initial argument about how this will effect the children has morphed into racism. Grasping straws as desperate drug addicts addicted to receiving what they want and having to face a competitive landscape can be a scary thing for someone, let me tell you because most of us do it everyday.

    Growing up and placing our family security on our hard work alone is scary, yet truly rewarding because it isn’t at the expense of someone else’s money. Welcome to our world.

  • Jody

    Dear Democratic Officials:

    You remind me of a little kid, who is a sore loser! It seems like you have a little back bone! If I were to run away from a job at work, just to avoid making a tough decision, I would be fired!! If I were your boss, I would point you towards the door. Well, I am one of your bosses, I pay your salary, and I will point you toward the door in the next election.

    Best Wishes…

    • pss

      remembr there are also people who will show the slimmy rebublicans the door also

  • mark from mntaxwaste.com

    The voters spoke, good bye public unions LOL

    • pss


    • OMG

      Had this union bust been on the table before the vote – he never would have won

  • Paula

    If you have kids in public schools in Wisconsin, take them out and home school them in the future. Don’t let the freaks near them.

    • Shannon

      Paula, I have kids in public schools in Wisconsin. I don’t home school them because I don’t want them to become unsocialized and narrow-minded. How long were you homeschooled?

      And for the record, the teachers we have here are intelligent, generous and hard-working. Keep drinking the Kool-Ade and ignoring the fact that the rich have had socialism in this country for a very long time.

      • Figureitout again


        You need to do some research on home schooling.

        Home schooled kids score higher on any standardized tests than public school kids in most cases. Most colleges/universities love home schooled kids, as they generally work hard, are well behaived, and pay their own way.

        As far as them becoming “unsocialized and narrow-minded”, 2 of my 3 children are now in public school, after being home schooled for several years. The first 3 months they didn’t have the best grades as obviosly the program we were using was not the same as the public schools (although they scored way above the rest of the class in some areas as they were way ahead in that area), but after the first 3 months they were on the B honor roll, and now after 3 years are in the top 10% of their class. My daughter is a football cheer leader, and is constanly invited over by her friends, as is my son. My oldest son (who will graduate from our home school this spring) scored extemely high on his SAT test, and we get between 3 and 7 emails from colleges every day inviting him to apply, offering scholerships, express applications, no need to submit an essay, etc (and also has many friends). He took one science class at a local public school, the teacher took him aside one day and explained to him that he could not include his grades in the curve, as if he did the rest of the students would fail. He got an A+ in that class and the other students were constanty asking for his help.

        The local gun club we belong to (and the members) have devloped all of the youth trap shooting groups that include a lot of public schools and a couple of home school groups. They basically let the school groups shoot for free. When the local high school groups shoot, they leave a mess, never volunteer to help clean up, and complain. When the home school groups shoot they pick up, and then ask if they can help clean anything else up. They must be unsocialized and narrow-minded also.

        We were at a local Culvers a couple of weeks ago, there were several families with 1 to 3 kids there, the kids were doing the typical run to the pop dispenser every few minutes, one was even standing on top of the table while his parents watched in amuzment. In the middle of all this was a younger couple with 6 kids, my estimation is 1 to 12 years old. They were all sitting at the table, quietly haveing a conversation. After watching them for about 10 minutes (in which time non of the childred yelled, got up, or danced on the table) I walked over to the father and said “you home school your kids, don’t you”. He looked at me a little puzzeled and said “yes, we do, how did you know that”. I said because they are politely sitting at the table, eating their dinner, and helping their brothers and sisters out, not standing on the table.

        And “for the record” I have 6 nephews and on neice that were home schooled from K through 12. All of them have a job, one of them has been offered the opportunity to take over his boss’s business when he retires (married with 2 kids), one of them told his boss he was leaving to take another job and his boss gave him a 20% raise to stay (married with 2 kids), one works for and intelligence agency, one is set to graduate from Duluth University with honors in a few months (and engaged), another works for Cargill (married), another is set to graduate from a highly regarded college in a year or so. I would like to see them once in a while but most times they are busy with thier unsocialized and narrow-minded friends, although they are always at the important family gatherings.

        There are a few good public schools left, 2 of my kids attend one of them, but there are a lot of them, I’m glad your kids attend one of them also, but until you have walked a mile in someone elses shoes…. Maybe you are the one that is unsocialized and narrow-minded?

      • Shannon

        We “slaves” would be happy to keep the money we do make and not have it go to the wealthy oil companies and corporations.

        “Wisconsin – a Division of Koch Industries”

      • Shannon

        Figureitout again,

        I may not have been home schooled, but at least I can stay on topic. I’m so happy for you that people walk up to you at Culvers and are amazed that you’re kids are behaved and declare them home schooled.

        And it doesn’t surprise me that you belong to a Gun Club.

        This is not the argument here.

        And, for the record, I am too busy working for a living to stay at home and home school my kids. Maybe if I could keep some of my hard-earned money instead of giving it to corporations . . .

  • Alert U

    The Old South Confederacy is winning this battle; or is it? Back in the days it was the Masters, the House Slaves and the Field Slaves. So today for tomorrow what will happen should the Koch doctrine win. We will have the Super Rich, a High Upper Middle Class and the Dirt Poor. The Dirt Poor will be made to feel comfortable working for less than minimum wages with no ability to increase the net worth. People who manage to make a higher then what is currently salary, will feed the economy for its better goods and services and with their uppity attitude look down on the Dirt Poor. The Dirt Poor is what is needed to compete with third world labor and the majority of Americans will be made to feel comfortable as the new way of life. Of course all of this will be accomplished by having a One Party Republican RULE, with the private militia Blackwater as the world’s most prolific security force for their guard.

    Animal Farm!
    The chickens are sniffing the Big Dogs behinds and they love it.

    P.S. the chickens gobble TEA with their cornmeal feed

    • Figureitout again and again?

      I guess we need to redistribute the wealth, the rich that have busted their buts to make money should be perfecly happy giving their money to the “poor” that have sat on their buts and waited for a handout.

      The “slaves” rose up and demanded a better life and freedom, the “slaves” you talk of are the ones that want to sit back and collect welfare (or head to the next protest, they have no idea what they are protesing but hey, there might be free food).

      Think about it.

  • mark from mntaxwaste.com

    Why are American students failing when up against the rest of the world? Can’t be the teachers, or is it? mark@mntaxwaste.com

    • How About Them Apples

      They’re failing because of stupid parents like you.
      Did your Mother spank you on the wrong end?

    • Whirly

      Gee I don’t know, maybe becasue you stupid conservatives keep cutting the education budget? See, if people like you had never been in charge of the budget, you would have probably learned this in school and wouldn’t have to be asking about it here. Duh.

  • gum

    Sadly, the commentary here indicates a complete lack of understanding of the issue. The bottom line here is what Wisconsin’s future will be. Under Governor Walker’s leadership, the state will become a haven for corporate greed, and the actual Wisconsin citizen’s quality of life will decline radically. What he proposed is so unlike what Wisconsinites want, it had to be accomplished by underhanded methods. The fight in Madison, and throughout the state, is a fight for what we want Wisconsin to be–not us against them, not rich against the rest, but a good quality of life for everyone. And that’s why the demonstrations continue, and will until this travesty has been reversed.

    • Rollover

      “Good quality of Life for everyone?”. Nonsense, If you cared about others then where have you been when other people in your state were getting laid off?

      If you really cared about other’s quality of life, you would end your selfishness and get to work and be more attentive to taxpayer dollars. Reducing my quality of life to protect yours isn’t going to cut it anymore

      • pss

        and why are they being laid-off because the ceo’s can’t afford to pay there employees and still give themselves a multimillion dollar bonus every year

    • mark from mntaxwaste.com

      @gummy bear, sorry we did not know you could walk on water.

    • mark from mntaxwaste.com

      hey gummy bear, how bad is the quality of life for the WI students who are below the rest of the world in standings? Can’t be worse than that can it?

    • Sum It Up

      HEY- ‘Rollover-n-Sleep’,
      ~We’ll SEE how you enjoy your ‘lifestyle’ as the first, nursinghome-resident run by illiterates- K!?!
      ‘Markie-deSad-Hater’, What DID they do to you as a child?!?
      ~Do let us know what the view’s like ON your ocean of ‘ISSUES’.~

      • Christopher Restemayer

        Sum it up…Yea… ok. Keep up that old line. In the early 20th century, less than 3% of the US population was illiterate; a good 50 years before the founding of the Department of Education. Our illiteracy rate is actually HIGHER since public education became the standard; not lower.

  • John B

    This not about labor. They are only a small part of the people in WI. The gooses eggs will not be golden anymore. And they call Wall Street greedy.

  • swerver

    Any chance you people go back to work and move on with your lives your getting nowhere this isn’t the 60’s act like adults, it’s over no soup for you…

  • Sum It Up

    For Equality: It is time TO APPLY this new POWER OF THE PEOPLE to ALL those ‘govt. employees’ who enjoy their ‘invisible union’ and just “vote themselves” ALL the raises/benes/perks they desire… WI- DO start at the ‘Governer’s Mansion’, won’t you!
    ~An Axe Cuts Both Ways!~

  • Rick

    This reminds me of a baby that gets their bottle taken away. Sorry folks it’s time to drink from the adult cup now. Maybe they will hold their breath and stop their feet to get their way. This is why political correctness kills the country.

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