Over thirty thousand state and local public workers and supporters rallied yesterday in Madison, WI to protest Governor Scott Walker’s (R) extreme anti-union bill that proposes to reduce state workers’ salaries and take away the right of unions to collectively bargain for salary benefits, hours, and working conditions (MSNBC). The bill would cut public workers’ wages between six and eight percent. The Republican-dominated state legislature’s budget committee passed the bill late last night.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, responded, “It’s clear that right-wing Republicans are using the excuse of the budget to strip away the rights of public workers unions. Without unions, middle class and women workers, such as teachers, social workers, and nurses, are in grave jeopardy.”
The number of protestors has been increasing throughout the week, with 2,000 gathering on Monday and 15,000 on Tuesday. More are expected today. Forty percent of teachers called in sick yesterday in support of the protest.The second largest school district in Wisconsin closed yesterday for the second day in a row, as well as some two dozen other school districts.
Legislation that would limit public workers unions has also been introduced by Republican leadership in Maine, Alabama, Ohio, Arizona, and Missouri.