Thousands are in downtown Madison for what is day three for some people protesting Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, legislation that scales back bargaining rights for public employees.
Sarah McDowell is among those on their third day of gathering. She has made the trip from Fond du Lac, back and forth every day. Both her and husband and her are teachers concerned with the proposal.”Fifty years of working to get collective bargaining and unions and to lose it all in five days is not right,” says the special education teacher.
Dozens of school districts around the state cancelled classes as a number of teachers protested the budget repair measure.
Milwaukee Public Schools were still in session after the superintendent warned against teachers and staff calling in sick today. It prompted a Milwaukee mother to take her kids to the capitol to represent the MPS workers. Heather Pantoga calls the actions by the superintendent “very unfair.”
Meanwhile Madison is on its second day of no school bringing out number of students from the grade school to the high school level. Roy celebrates his 17th birthday by marching with his classmates. He is “very proud” that despite difference in the hallways at school they can all come together with such an important cause.
Some groups simply used the rally to send their own message. Paul Streeter is a former state worker with Veterans for Peace. He just wants to send a message of love.
“Thank you Mr. Governor for making it easy for us. It’s such a wonderful rallying call. All we have to say is peace,” says the Soldiers Grove resident.
Randall Dynek of Milwaukee holds up a handwritten sign of the “First they Came” poem which talks of Nazi Germany’s creeping policy leading up to genocide.
“The first thing Adolph Hitler did was go after down the unionist and once he shut down the people’s voice everyone else was fair game,” says the member of a signage union.
A Madison police officer was there on his off time to protests. Despite fire and police being exempted from the legislation’s collective bargaining changes the man says he was there to show solidarity for all unions.
A Mosinee man compared Walker’s activity to bullying saying adults should come together through dialogue rather than “demanding things.”
Governor Walker is meeting with reporters late this afternoon to discuss the day’s events. The Republican has said changing negotiating guidelines for civil workers is necessary to prevent thousands of layoffs.
The state Department of Administration estimated 5,000 people inside the capitol with 20,000 more along the square.