Demonstrations Spread from Egypt To Wisconsin – Teachers Go on Strike, Guard Called In

by on February 16, 2011 · 9 comments

in American Empire, Civil Disobedience, Labor, Organizing, Popular

Protestors at Wisconsin Capitol, February 15, 2011

Fifteen thousand Wisconsin workers and their supporters rallied at the state capitol in Madison on Tuesday to protest legislation aimed at both public employee and private sector union activity.  Teamsters, teachers, university workers, nurses, high school students, and state workers of all kinds flooded the streets and the capitol grounds. The crowd cheered as firefighters showed their solidarity. Five hundred students walked out of Madison East High School to join the demonstration. Seven hundred protestors staged an overnight sleep-in in the Capitol Building.

Recently elected Republican (and Tea Party darling) Governor Scott Walker has wasted no time since his inauguration in advancing legislation to make it illegal for public sector workers to bargain on anything other than wages.  The bill would make it easier to get rid of public sector unions by mandating annual votes of the membership. And it would allow private sector employers to fire workers who are trying to organize unions. To make his point perfectly clear, the Governor has threatened to call out the to take anyone’s job that refuses to go along.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Tuesday was the second day in a row of demonstrations, and those union members and their supporters say they’ll be back again Wednesday and every day for as long as it takes to make their voices heard and stop Governor Walker’s budget bill. The crowds in Madison are expected to swell Wednesday, as city schools are closing, with teachers taking sick days to join the protests.

The protests, unprecedented in recent Wisconsin history, are being organized by union—the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the Wisconsin Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin and others—in anticipation of a Thursday vote on whether to give the governor powers that the senior member of the state legislature describes as nothing short of dictatorial.

Many of those who showed up for one of the first of what are expected to be days of ever-expanding protests borrowed themes language and themes from the crowds that filled the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to call for the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial reign.  Signs at Tuesday’s rally referred to the governor as “Hosni Walker” and declared: “Protest Like an Egyptian.”

Another asked: “If Egypt Can Have Democracy, Why Can’t Wisconsin?”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace February 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

Wisconsin was the first state in the Union to implement a collective bargaining law in 1959. First in, first out? Such irony. ..


doug porter February 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

the crowd in Madison has swelled to over 30,000 today. more protests set for thurs. Gov.’s response “I don’t want to provoke anything.” lots of info coming in over twitter. use hashtag #killthebill or #notmywi to get live action reports.


Gary Ghirardi February 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm

While CNN covers the protests in Egypt for weeks on end in celebration of democracy, where are the images and video of Madison or the images of the student occupation of the University in San Juan? Major hypocrisy.


Gary Ghirardi February 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm
phyl February 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I think you meant to say: “the Governor has threatened to call out the NATIONAL GUARD to take anyone’s job that refuses to go along.” Is that proper use of men and women that may have even already served tours of duty in Afganistan & Iraq already, now this war ? This governor has biten off more than he might be able to handle….. Interesting that those unions that endorsed him in the election are not targeted by him in these proposed changes in state law. It was reported earlier today they would be enough votes in state assembly & senate to enact change in laws. This is just too scary for every honest, hard working stiff in the state!


doug porter February 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm

More protests on Thursday in Wisc: all Madison and Milwaukee schools will be closed. Students from all over the state, from Appleton to Madison, have walked out or are planning to walk out. UW-Madison student government has voted to support a student walk out tomorrow.


Darin Bicknell February 17, 2011 at 5:40 am

It is heartening to see people in America especially YOUTH get involved. It is time the US really gets behind real change and fights for the working and average American. Too many support Republican agenda though against their own interests. It is truly amazing to compare the yearning for freedom in the Arab and Muslim world and compare it to the apathy at the hypocrisy of the US government on these people world wide seeking freedom with out real definitive support from the Democrats in office. Maybe these protest will wake up YOUTH and get them out to vote and maybe with a real mandate Obama can fix the US.


David February 22, 2011 at 4:16 am

I think it’s interesting that as the middle east gains freedoms we loose them. Is Mr. Walker to first dictator to rise in America destroying people’s rights to have a say in their own future? Z’ Heil Walker Z’ Heil! He’s not asking the teacher’s if they will help he is telling them they will that’s what this is about people. Stop the erosion of our rights here and now!!!


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