Madison Reacts to Gov. Walker Signing Anti-Labor Bill

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Students Walk out of Madison East High School

Students Walk out of Madison East High School

Video by Jacob Wheeler
Friday at 9:30 a.m. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law his legislation that prohibits collective bargaining among public-sector employees. Thus ended a dramatic legislative week in Madison: on Wednesday night at 6 p.m., Republicans in the State Senate forced a vote during an impromptu executive session; and yesterday at 3:30, the State Assembly followed suit. Gov. Walker held a press conference today at 3 in the Wisconsin State Capitol where he called the union-killing bill “what’s best for the middle class” but said that he never meant to say anything against state workers. Walker seemed to contradict himself at various points during the press conference, confessing that he was just doing what other states are doing, but simultaneously casting Wisconsin as a leader in passing such legislation.

Reaction around Madison was swift. During the press conference, over a thousand demonstrators outside his office chanted “shame” and “recall Walker”. Meanwhile, hundreds of students walked out of East High School at 2 p.m. and marched to the Capitol, and then Library Mall on the University of Wisconsin campus, where they met students from three other local schools. Students from schools across the nation also walked out today. Activities in Madison will reach a crescendo tomorrow when tractors and farmers from around the state parade around the State Capitol beginning at 10 a.m. A rally with musicians and nationally-known speakers including Jim Hightower will follow on State Street. And at 3 p.m., the cheese state’s 14 Democratic Senators who took exile in Illinois in mid-February will reportedly return and address the crowds.

Meanwhile, on Monday in Minnesota, that state’s Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee, chaired by Republican Mike Parry, will hear a bill to take away essential bargaining rights from Minnesota teachers.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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