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Wisconsin Protests, Sunday, February 20, 2011

1:00 a.m. - From Ben Manski: Police have stopped removing materials after TAA and other activists talked to them. Officers who were removing signs, etc were from new jurisdictions. New signs and materials, banners, etc, will be needed tomorrow.

8:00 p.m. - The Associated Press is reporting that Ian's Pizza in Madison has received 40 calls as supporters across the nation have sent $2,500 worth of pizza to the capitol. Where are the cheese curds? The Huffington Post reports that some of the pizzas were sent from supporters in Egypt.

5:06 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports that pizza, water and bagels are still being handed out, and that rally leaders are reiterating the message that the protest must be kept peaceful, and that the Capitol must be treated with respect.

Wisconsin Protests, Saturday, February 19, 2011

8:00 p.m. - Signing off.

Saturday's rallies were the largest yet! News reports have put the number of Walker protesters at the Capitol today at 70-80,000 compared to 3-5,000 for Tea Party participants.

Tea Party crowd5:00 p.m. - TEA PARTY RALLY

Brendan Fischer reports on the Tea Party rally:

In what appears to be the largest day of protests yet, opponents of the budget repair bill filled the capitol square and paraded through packed streets while Walker supporters, Tea Party members, and conservative activists congregated in the state capitol's East spur. Approaching the spur at the height of the noon rally (organized by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity), a deafening mix of competing chants ("Kill the bill!" "Pass the bill!" "Si se puede!" "What's disgusting? Union busting!") made it difficult to hear the speakers.

Wisconsin Protests, Friday, February 18, 2011

10:30 p.m. - Mary Bottari: WI Congressional Rep. Paul Ryan who was far from the protests in Washington this week, said disapprovingly that WI was beginning to look a lot like Cairo. Today, one person responded with a sign in 20 degree weather: "I thought Cairo would be warmer."

10:00 p.m. - ASSEMBLY'S ABRUPT ADJOURNMENT CAPS CHAOTIC DAY IN CAPITOL

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter gives a dramatic account of what happened on the Assembly floor today:

The Assembly teetered on the brink of chaos Friday evening but then adjourned peacefully after Republicans rescinded a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill that the GOP lawmakers took without Democrats present.

In the Wisconsin Assembly on Friday, Republican leaders had called lawmakers to the floor at 5 p.m. to take up Walker's bill to fix a budget shortfall by cutting public worker benefits and bargaining rights. But they began business just before that hour, when Democrats were not yet on the floor.

The Koch Connection in Scott Walker's War on Working People

Wisconsin's embattled Governor Scott Walker took large donations from Koch Industries in the run-up to the 2010 election that swept him into office. OpenSecrets.org reports that Koch Industries donated a total of $43,000 in two separate contributions -- $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 -- to the Friends of Scott Walker Political Action Committee (PAC), to help get Walker elected governor.

Firefighter Support

Firefighters at the Wisconsin State CapitolDespite Governor Scott Walker's exemption of unionized public safety workers -- firefighters, police officers and the like -- from his union-busting budget "repair" bill, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) wants to make one factor clear: Wisconsin firefighters are on the side of labor rights.

"We've got firefighters at the Capitol right now," said 5th District IAFF Vice President Joseph Conway.

Loud cheers met all firefighters and police officers joining the national news-making protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol earlier this afternoon.

Where is the Budget Crisis?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker alleges that dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights is made necessary by a $3.6 billion deficit in the next budget, and a $137 million shortfall this year. Setting aside the fact that the ability to negotiate shifts, seniority, benefits and conditions of employment would have a negligible impact on the deficit, and looking beyond Walker's deceptive claim that the alternative to union-busting is to kick 200,000 children off Medicaid (called "false" by Politifact), how deep is the state's economic crisis?

Wisconsin Protests, Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kill the bill! So easy a caveman can do it! Or a gorilla!9:30 p.m. - IN THREE WORDS: DECEPTIVE, DISHONEST, DESTRUCTIVE

Mary Bottari: Outside the capitol, I bumped into UW Professor (Law, Political Science, Sociology, Public Affairs) Joel Rogers and asked him to explain the budget number to me. The national media can't seem to decide if Wisconsin has a budget deficit or not, or whether $30 million in concessions being demanded from workers is significant or not. Rogers explained that the $3.5 billion shortfall projected over the next biennium is about half what the one projected last time, which Wisconsin survived, and that $30 million was both trivial and dwarfed by new concessions unions had already offered to make. Says Rogers, "you just can't make sense of this as a deficit reduction strategy. It's a political strategy. Destroy public sector unions and you destroy the campaign organization of your opposition, Democrats. Of course he won't ever just say this." Rogers thinks the budget repair bill is "in three words: deceptive, dishonest, destructive. Deceptive because its not what people elected him to do. He's got no mandate to take away worker rights. Dishonest because unions are really not the source of our budget problems. A lousy national economy is, and unions are anxious to work with him in surviving in it. They're really not the problem, but can be part of the solution. And it's destructive because their help is needed. Nothing is gain by blowing up a 50 year tradition of public sector collective bargaining that was born in Wisconsin and gives a lot of people a great deal of civic pride."

Wisconsin Governor Walks on Workers

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is trying to end collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, and thousands have converged on the state capitol in protest of what many consider a radical and blatantly political move. Walker's plan threatens the rights of all Wisconsin workers, and if it prevails in this state, could threaten the rights of working people across the nation. It would also reverse the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have fought for economic justice through the power of organizing.

Protesters at Wisconsin state capitol Although federal collective bargaining laws protect private sector employees, Wisconsin has been a leader in extending those rights to the public sector. The American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) formed in 1932 in Madison, Wisconsin. The "dairy state" was the first to pass collective bargaining rights for local government workers and teachers in 1959. The push for public sector unionization extended through the sixties.

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