Madison, WI - On Feb.15, students and workers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee traveled to Madison to join the tens of thousands of others protesting to demand an end to Governor Scott Walker's attack on Wisconsin employees. On Feb. 11, Walker proposed his 'budget repair bill' which would eliminate collective bargaining for nearly 175,000 public-sector union members to fill a $136.7 million budget deficit. In response, over 10,000 workers and supporters stormed the capitol in Madison.
Demonstrators filled the capitol building and flooded the streets chanting, "Kill the bill!" and "Workers rights are under attack…fight back!" Protesters held signs that read, "Stop the attack on WI families!" and "Stop union busting!"
Workers showed that they are determined to fight until the end. Gerry McEntee, international president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union exclaimed, "We will not allow them to break the backs of the workers of Wisconsin." Another union member stated, "There is no one who cares more about this state than its workers and we deserve a voice at the negotiation table."
Though firefighters were said to be exempt from the proposal to eliminate collective bargaining, many of them gathered to show their support for the rest of Wisconsin's workers. The crowd cheered as they passed through with their signs: "Firefighters for worker's rights!"
From inside the capitol, workers on the job supported the rally by displaying a sign reading "Solidarity!" through the window for protesters to see.
Students from local high schools and universities were also present at the rally. One Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) member explained, "Attacks on the workers at our university are attacks on human rights and the quality of our education."
Support for union members comes from far and wide. Thousands more will continue the fight with another rally scheduled on Wednesday, Feb. 16.