On February 11, newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a fast-tracked budget repair bill. If passed, it would place the burden of balancing the budget squarely on the working class and remove their rights to protest these changes. State employees in nearly all sectors would lose massive benefits, but more importantly they would lose their right to collectively bargain for sick leave, working conditions, and even working hours. Walker has stated that if unions refuse to cooperate, he will not hesitate to send in the National Guard.
The only unions exempt from these proposed changes would be firefighters, police and state troopers—coincidentally the only unions who supported Governor Walker in his election bid to begin with. But, even these unions are coming out against Walker, backing labor, and standing as a unified front.
While union leaders have agreed to the pension and health care cuts outlined in the bill, Republican leadership has held fast to the bill’s provisions that collective bargaining be eliminated for state workers.
In Madison the past three days, tens of thousands have shown up to protest the governor’s bill. Teachers, students and workers from accross the state have flocked to the capital to voice their disappointment and show their solidarity.
These photos are from the demonstrations on Feb 16.