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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Thousands join Wisconsin labor protest

MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of people descended on the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison Monday to chant and sing, hoist signs and denounce Gov. Scott Walker for what they view as a direct assault on organized labor.

The union supporters withstood an ice-glazing storm that made walking treacherous and temperatures in the mid-20s that had them gladly jumping up and down during the musical portion of the demonstration.

“”What’s disgusting? Union busting,”” was the preferred chant of the day.

It was the eighth straight day of protests at the Capitol as state government workers fight Walker’s proposal to drastically curtail the collective bargaining rights of the state’s union work force. Unions have agreed to the benefit and pension concessions demanded by Walker, but the limits on collective bargaining, a right won by Wisconsin workers in 1959, have sparked a movement that has attracted outrage in the state and growing national attention.

“”This changed from budget cuts to flat out union busting,”” said Paul Aird, of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen in Fond du Lac.

He was just one of many private sector unions that traveled to Madison to show their support for the state workers.

“”I’m teaching the novel ‘1984′ right now where they try to keep the people stupid and out of power,”” said Milwaukee high school teacher Katherine Katter. “”I don’t want to live that here.””

Rallies were held outside the Capitol, where singers whipped up the crowd with songs made famous during the Vietnam War, the last time such large protests were seen in Wisconsin.

And hundreds more crowded into the Rotunda inside the state house, where protesters have set up camp for the last eight days, converting hidden cubby holes into rest areas, complete with folding chairs, sleeping bags and hundreds of donated (and now empty) pizza boxes.

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