Thousands Gather at Today’s Worker Rally, Madison Wisconsin

An iron worker from Waupaca

I’ve put up just a few pictures for now – more to come very soon. I’ve heard that there are 10,000 people here. I’m not sure.  It’s difficult to know since the capitol building is full of people and they also flow out and down to State Street. Certainly we are in the thousands. I feel a sense of determination when I speak with people. They are angry but also worried.

About 200 people are registered to speak at the public hearing on Scott Walker’s budget” bill (which if you’re new to this, bans collective bargaining by workers and takes away other union rights in Wisconsin). I’d like to be in that room, but only 10 people are allowed in at a time, and even those people are only allowed 2 minutes. Last I knew, the entire East Wing of the Capitol was roped off. I asked staffers but they were not aware why, but mentioned maybe there is a security issue.

I did just get a tweet that Senator Dale Schultz’s office is closed due to a threat.

There was a rumor that Tea Party counter-protesters would be here, but I’ve seen none. We are a mix of men in work coats, people in dress coats, younger people with kids, older people. A few young people who look to be students. I heard that an entire high school class came. Most of the people are in work coats or jackets.

Somebody asked me on twitter if we see national guardsmen. The answer is “no”. A few police are casually walking around, and they seem unconcerned, just chatting with each other.

I’m going back outside to take a lot of pictures. There’s no internet in the capitol building. It’s not too cold outside in Madison, but the wind is very high, so those folks standing out there for hours are tough!

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17 thoughts on “Thousands Gather at Today’s Worker Rally, Madison Wisconsin

  1. I think the teachers are paid pretty well, for 8 months work. Plus numerous holidays. Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation on National test scores which tells me we aren’t getting a lot of Education for our kids. I worked in a school and believe me the teachers had very fine jobs. Let them get back to work and do what they are being paid for. There are many excellent teachers in Wi. but let me tell you there are plenty of poor teachers. Unfortunately the unions go to bat for the poor ones and the excellent teachers just pay their dues. I had union health care workers who were worthless and to get them fired took an act of congress. Remember the county hospital, the unions won their fight for higher wages and benifits. But they lost the war because the county closed it’s door and thousnads of people were jobless. No wages, No benefits. I bet they wished they had gotten a few less benefits and still had jobs,not unemployment.The lives of thousands of workers were ruined while the president of the nurses union lived in luxury in Wasington DC. When it came time to fight, the union turned tail and sold us out.

    • I don’t agree on the pay. You could not pay me to get in a classroom of kids. I think they should be paid more to be with kids 8 hours and more every day and also grade papers at home on the weekends and nights.
      Because I was a library worker in a public setting…. well..those jobs tend to become combo educator, tech specialist, social worker, and cop. I’ve been there. I won’t do that type of work again not over pay or benefits…because it is extremely demanding work.
      If money is something we give to people who do hard work…OK. If money is something we give to people who do extremely valuable work…OK. I’m not sure what the problem is here. with paying teachers well.
      If you have a bone to pick with a particular union over treatment, fine. If you have an issue with some leader somehwere, fine. ..please address those individuals. You certainly should. However, if that is the inspiration for siding with Walker and trying to strip all public unions – and you know privates are up next – of thier collective bargaining rights….I repeat RIGHTS…I do think you are in error.
      A final note, i respect that you commented here and did not use course language. I know we do not agree, but I value that you took the time to write. Hope we can continue to be passionate but respectful people. That’ll keep Democracy alive.

  2. Can you tell me when would be a good event to target to come to Madison to join in on the protests and show support for organized labor? I live in Michigan and can get there with a little lead. I am sure I am not alone.

  3. What Governor Walker is doing has nothing to do with balancing the budget. This is the political payback he needs to make to payoff those millionaire contributors. We should all hope that workers have health care, pensions, and negotiating rights.
    Why bring people down to a lower standard, can we not as a people try to raise people’s living standards. If private sector now do not have those rights, what does that say about the private sector. The rich get richer, the poor poorer.
    How does this bring jobs to Wisconsin, and how does this grow Wisconsin’s economy?
    Shame on you Governor Walker

  4. It is one thing to talk about cutting the budget but it is another thing when your bargaining rights are being threatened! Many people have no idea how many people fought to have the right to bargain and organize. (My father, for one!) I suggest the people in Wisconsin read about the history of the labor movement in this country. People fought with their lives to create fairness for the worker back in 1935! We absolutely MUST protect the right of workers bargain for their rights–this is what democracy is all about.

  5. To Patrick: Instead of harping on lower middle class public sector employees — by the way, do you happen to know what a school teacher makes? I do, and it doesn’t qualify as middle class — why don’t you take a look at the fact that corporations in Wisconsin (two-thirds of them) don’t pay any taxes. That’s the real problem here.

    And yes, pay cuts are proposed. When you talk about taking higher percentages of people’s paychecks to cover increases in premiums, etc. that constitutes a pay cut.

  6. 50% of my parents paycheck goes to taxes, 90% healthcare, vision, dental, 100% orthodontia, they get no help. The teachers union gets all these benes and are refusing the fact that they get them. Its a pension, free-healthcare.. and now they’re all completely aghast. I’m 15 years old, and I understand what’s going on. The sad thing is many people who are actual voters DO NOT. I completely agree with the right to voice opinions, and I think that if someone thinks that there is a reason to protest go ahead, protest your heart out. There in fact was an entire high school there, all of Madison Schools had off today and their teachers encouraged them to participate in the rally. On the news, they interviewed these high schoolers, who proceeded to say that they had NO idea why they were there. I have off tomarrow because over 30 teachers asked for substitutes. No school. Yay. But what about the people who now have to stay home because their th grade and under kids don’t have school? It’s all lunacy, the media blows things up to RILE people up. Think about it. Actually LISTEN to governer Walker, he’s a person too, people are so thick-headed I don’t know what to do.

    • Because I’m really tired, I won’t do a great job with my reply, but I wanted to say “thanks” for your note. I am always inspired to see young people getting interested in politics. I was a little sad to hear about the student that got interviewed and was ignorant of why he was at the rally. But that’s always going to happen whichever side of the issues you’re on. You can always find somebody ignorant, get them on camera, yada yada.
      We could both write volumes about healthcare. I do take that point seriously- your parents have to pay a lot. The United States has a serious crisis in healthcare.
      For today, to be very brief, I believe that the 2 worst parts of the bill for WI workers is losing the right to collectively bargain, and losing the right to negotiate on anything other than pay.
      I believe if he had come out with cuts in pay, in benefits, etc.. but kept rights intact, people would be less angry. Whenever you tell somebody, “I am taking away your right to…” they are guaranteed to be angry with you.

      A friend mentioned something I thought was wise. He said, “Why don’t you just cut every department by whatever percentage and let the manager figure it out?” It’s not a bad point. Every manager knows where the fat or waste is in the organization. Leave it up to them to figure it out.
      If I were governor, I would have used both of those tools: cuts in pay/benefits in the typical contracts that are negotiated & cuts in departmental budgets.

      There is a great deal in the bill–it’s about 175 pages long, and a lot of other things in it that have people alarmed, by the way. We’ll find out pretty soon what happens. The vote in the State Senate is tomorrow.

  7. This isn’t a battle between the private sector and the public workers. The judgement that is taking place is a real shame. I have worked most of my life in the private sector. I have worked as a teacher for the last 6 years. This attitude that all public employees are lazy loafers living off of hard working private sector tax payers is ridiculous. I can tell you lazy loafers aren’t exclusive to the public sector. I don’t know of any teachers who are saying they don’t want to be part of the solution. I don’t hear any teachers saying they aren’t willing to pay more if that is what is needed. The issue is there is no conversation. The attack on collective bargaining isn’t based on repairing the budget, it is union busting. So be honest and call it what it is. Honestly I do not understand where the anger and judgement comes from some people. This attitude, expressed by Peter, that as a teacher I am somehow not accountable, or responsible because I am standing up in a peaceful democratic way to an all out attack. Tell me Peter, if you were under attack and stood to loose everything do you know that you wouldn’t do whatever you could to stand up and have your voice heard?

  8. I would have gone to the rally, too, Peter, but I could not leave work as a public employee, because hundreds of Wisconsinites’ children expected me to be in front of my class. So I was there, holding myself accountable to them (even though many of those students do not seem to think that they are accountable to show up for class, do assignments, etc.)

    Oh, and because I’m a teacher for the state, I do not get any paid vacation at all. And I have had pay cuts (after no raises for five years) last year and this year, officially called “furloughs” — but teachers for the state were told to take our furlough days on the weekends and not cancel any classes, meetings, appointments, etc. However, I would not get done all of the work needed to teach hundreds of students if I worked only five or even six days a week.

    But gosh, thanks for showing me again why Wisconsin is trashing me — because Wisconsin is in the bottom half of states in terms of attainment of college degrees, including our uneducated governor and others like you who think you know it all, when you know nothing about our working conditions.

  9. I didnt hear anything about pay cuts…are there pay cuts proposed??? I did hear that there is a move to make state employees kick in more for their own pensions and health care. And the health care increase is nowhere near what the private sector pays, if they even get health care. Now, how is paying for one’s own pension a problem. Why should tax dollars that could be used to do wonderous things in the State be used to fund the future’s of the small percentage of the people. Last I checked, people should fund their own future. I wouldn’t want my taxes wasted this way. I’m sure the average cost of living increase in wages is enough for most State employees. People can choose to leave the State if they want. I’m sure there is a line of people that would be glad to take their place.

  10. To the Private Sector employee: I would imagine that you possibly have two weeks of vacation that you could use to go to the rally. You seem to suggest that Public Sector employees in unions aren’t held accountable for how they spend their time during working hours. They are – when they’re at work. What they do with their private time is their business.

    Maybe you don’t know anyone who has ever worked in a public sector union job (teacher, police, fire fighter, etc.). Maybe you nor anyone you know has ever benefited by services provided by teachers, police or fire fighters.

    Why would anyone want any of these super-rich teachers, police or fire fighters to be able to form a group that engages in thoughtful discussions and debate to come up with an agreement for a fair wage and benefit package? So many of these “fat-cat” living high off the hog folks are retiring at age 40 because they make sooooooooooo much money.

    Peter, this is likely not true for you, but many in the education profession have had to go to college (minimum 4 year degree and sometimes a graduate degree is also needed). Plus, there are continuing education and training requirements for all of these aforementioned positions.

    How sad. You say that the minority is vocal. That’s who the pilgrims were (a vocal minority). We need more of a vocal minority because the majority (politicians in WI) certainly have it wrong here.

  11. To you the vocal minority

    I would have gone to the rally today to show my support for Governor Walkers budget plan, but I could not leave work. That’s right I work in the private sector and I am held accountable for how I spend my time during working hours.

    Soon you will be too.

  12. To you the vocal minority

    I would have gone the rally today to show my support for Governor Walkers budget plan, but I could not leave work. That’s right I work in the private sector and I am held accountable for how I spend my time during working hours.

    Soon you will be too.

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