Wisconsin 14 To Join Massive Madison Protest Saturday
As many as 100,000 demonstrators are expected to protest the law signed Friday by Republican Governor Scott Walker that strips public employee unions of bargaining rights.
The bill was passed earlier in the week 18 to 1 by a rump caucus of Republican senators who claim they did not need a full quorum to act as the bill had no financial aspects. Democrats are posing a legal challenge to the bill saying the near all-GOP session was in violation of senate rules and state laws.
The signing of the bill came after three tumultuous weeks which saw a number of large protests, occupation of the Capitol, a boycott of Democratic legislators and charges that Governor Walker’s real intention was not to balance the budget but rather to break the public sector unions which are major funding sources for Democrats.
The Republicans passed the bill and Walker signed it into law as the Governor’s popularity was sinking and fears were mounting among the GOP that some of their legislators were ready to make a deal with Democrats to end the conflict.
The looming question is: What Now? Did the Democrats suffer a crushing loss, or did the Republicans over-reach and spark a new labor movement spreading through the Midwest? More than 25,000 rallied in Indianapolis to oppose a similar push against unions on Friday and next Tuesday a massive protest is planned by unions in the Michigan capital of Lansing.
Indeed, The New York Times reports that some Democrats see their legislative defeat in Wisconsin as a blessing in disguise.
In a push to raise money for their candidates, Democrats hope Wisconsin will be for them what the health care overhaul was for Republicans in last year’s midterm elections: a galvanizing force for their base, and an example of overreaching that will win them crucial independent voters, not just in Wisconsin but also in Congressional races and the presidential election next year.
They point to polls showing that the same level of intensity that helped Republicans campaigning against health care is now behind Democrats on the issue of collective bargaining. Gov. Scott Walker’s refusal to compromise with Democrats has given them a vivid way to demonstrate the point they tried unsuccessfully to make during the midterms: that Republicans are motivated by ideology, not just budget balancing.
Saturday’s rally in Madison will feature a farm labor tractor motorcade, a march of unionized teachers, and the presence of the Wisconsin 14, considered as local heroes by the anti-Walker forces.