Photos: WI Capitol Sit-in, Student Walkout & More
Molly Glasgow writes from Madison:
2/19/11: In the largest demonstration since the Vietnam war, thousands have occupied the Wisconsin State Capitol for days to protest Govenor Walker's bill that strips public sector employees of their bargaining rights. As the first state to adopt collective bargaining law for public employees in '59, unions and workers rights are ingrained in life in Wisconsin. So ingrained, that taking it away overnight could cause a devastating collapse.
Protests began on Monday, February 14th and by Tuesday, 10,000 people were at the capitol. The National Guard was put on alert and demonstrators began to occupy the rotunda armed with banners, sleeping bags, and a large dose of solidarity. People lined the hallways, gathering to testify against the bill. Public comment ran through the night and into Wednesday. By Thursday, the protest gained national and international attention as teachers statewide called a sick-out closing public schools from Eau Claire to Milwaukee. The National Guard was activated, and Democratic Senators fled the state to impede the vote. Since then, crowd numbers have continued to grow by tens of thousands, far surpassing the record of 30,000 set on Wednesday.
What will come of this defining moment in labor history? The course of events over the last week has shown that people are willing to stand together in record numbers, but in order to win, serious concerted action must be taken. The voices and numbers are there, and if the bill passes, this growing movement will need a strong clear voice to lead them in the right direction.
Day 1- Monday Feb 14th: Protests begin
Day 2- Tuesday Feb 15th: 10,000 Rally, National Guard put on alert, hundreds occupy capitol at sleep-in during committee hearing
Day 3- Wednesday Feb 16th: Testimonials continue at hearing, Madison Area teachers walk-out, record setting 30,000 turnout at Capitol, Committee vote 12-4
Day 4- Thursday Feb 17th: Statewide teacher sick-out begins, UW Students walk-out, Democratic senators leave the state, National Guard activated
Day 5, Friday Feb 18th- Assembly convenes while protesters listen to Jesse Jackson's address, Dem Senators walk-out for a second time. Law enforcement "toughens"
Day 6- Saturday Feb 19th- Teapartiers hold comparatively small counterprotest; IWW Rally; largest pro-labor demonstrations yet well over 50,000
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