Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Protesters swarm Capitol

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget-repair bill has spawned protests and demonstrations almost everywhere in the state, including at the Capitol building, most UW System schools and even outside state legislators’ houses.

As many as 10,000 protestors could be seen inside the Capitol building in Madison holding signs, chanting and singing. Photo by Tim Gumz.


Many UW-Whitewater students, faculty and staff, such as freshmen Reggie Kania and Cody Ybarra, have decided to participate in these demonstrations, whether they are on the UW-Whitewater campus or in Madison. Kania and Ybarra arrived in Madison Friday night to join in the protests.

Kania, a broadcast journalism major, said he believes the bill is a terrible idea.

“[Walker] is using it as a budget repair bill,” Kania said. “Some things in it make sense but he’s using it to sneak in to take away collective bargaining, which is completely wrong.”

Ybarra said as a social work major, he and his sister, who is a social worker, will be greatly affected by the bill if it gets passed. 

“I’m just here for our rights,” Ybarra said. “[This] is like a human rights violation almost … You’re supposed to have the right to bargain and to take it away, I think, is against human rights.”

UW-Whitewater geography and geology lecturer Steve Curran decided to show up in Madison on Friday afternoon as well. Curran, along with the majority of protestors, showed up to fight against the proposed decrease in power for unions and not so much the increased income loss.

“As a state worker, I came to support other people,” Curran said. “What Walker is proposing is not fair and not correct.”

Curran and other UW-Whitewater employees aren’t unionized, so there won’t be any effect on his collective bargaining rights. Still, that didn’t affect Curran from proclaiming his support for state employees affected by this bill.

Protestors filled the streets around the Capitol, causing law enforcement to block off some of the surrounding streets. Loud, echoing chants, such as “Feingold for governor,” “Recall Walker,” “Kill the bill,” “Tell the  truth,” and “It’s not about the money, it’s about the rights,” could be heard, along with drums and other instruments, inside the Capitol and out on the streets.

Songs such as “Solidarity Forever” were sung by thousands.

People from other states traveled to the state capital to join. One sign read, “Iowa will fight for you Wisconsin.” 

Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and Rep. Evan Wynn, R-Whitewater, both support the bill.

“[Nass] does support the governor’s budget repair bill because the other alternative is even worse,” said Mike Mikelson, a spokesperson for Nass. “The other alternative would require massive layoffs at both the state and local level.”

Wynn said the bill is needed because of the fiscal crisis the state was in when he took office.

From now until June 30, the state is short more than $130 million, Wynn said. 192,000 people on BadgerCare would be unable to use it and 6,000 state employees would be laid off.

Wynn said union members from the Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO picketed outside his house early Friday morning, urging him to vote against Walker’s bill. Wynn said he thought it was ironic that a union  would show up at his house trying to intimidate him when unions were originally formed to fight against the intimidation and bullying tactics used by employers on their workers.

“When unions show up at my house in Whitewater when they know I’m going to be here in Madison, they’re not doing that to get a message to me,” Wynn said. “It’s through pure intimidation and bullying because they know my family lives in that house, and that’s the message they’re trying to send me. I think that has to change.

“This has been an eye-opening experience for me to see this type of behavior in these groups.”

When roughly a dozen union members showed up at Wynn’s house, they were met by about three dozen Wynn supporters.

“I absolutely welcome protestors at the Capitol, at my office, or even in front of my old campaign office,” Wynn said in a release.  “But them coming to my home and my family just shows that the unions have grown too large and have way too much power.”

A representative for Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said Cullen is against the bill as it stands right now. Cullen, along with the other Democratic state senators, left Madison Thursday in an attempt to boycott a vote on the bill. The senators were rumored to be hiding out in Illinois where state law enforcement could not legally retrieve them. 

The 19 Republican senators were not enough to pass the bill, as a fiscal bill requires a vote of 20 senators. 

The state assembly also pushed back a vote on the bill until this week after Republicans tried to vote on the bill Thursday afternoon without Democrats present.

Democrats then stormed into the chamber and demanded that the Republicans rescind the vote that had been taken. Republicans agreed and discussion was postponed to this week.

The session was adjourned quickly because things were getting out-of-hand.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson spoke to protestors Friday evening, calling the protest against Walker’s proposal a “real Martin Luther King moment.”

Whitewater Police Chief Jim Coan said two policemen were sent to Madison for a 12-hour shift on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There has been no provision for reimbursement and the department felt the obligation to assist, he added.

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  • A

    Alainna HarrisFeb 24, 2011 at 1:13 am

    At the end of this article it says: “Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson spoke to protesters Friday evening, calling Walker’s proposal a “real Martin Luther King moment.” ”

    Jesse Jackson was not calling Walker’s proposal a “real Martin Luther King moment” he was talking about the people fighting for the rights a “real Martin Luther King moment”. How educated do you think the people who wrote/edited this article are?

  • L

    Laura SteigerwaldFeb 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    “Curran and other UW-Whitewater employees aren’t unionized, so there won’t be any effect on his collective bargaining rights.”

    This statement is incorrect. It DOES affect him because it takes away his rights to bargain if he wants to unionize in the future. This is (was) a good possibility because the faculty were/are starting the process of unionizing and were going to vote on it soon. With this new bill, that changes all of those plans!

    Secondly, several UW campuses’ faculty have recently unionized and are in the contract negotiation process now. I think UW Superior, Stout? I’m not sure which campuses, but it’s about a handful. This DOES affect our campus faculty because whatever those unions bargain for, our faculty would likely get similar provisions due to the competitiveness factor as well as system fairness and unity. So those other UW schools with faculty unions, could benefit the other UW schools without. Just as private-sector unions help raise the wages, working conditions, benefits etc. of everyone in the private sector, union and non-union.

    Finally, your statement that “…other UW-Whitewater employees aren’t unionized” is VERY incorrect. Yes, UW-W faculty is not unionized, but staff is. The people who plow our sidewalks, clean our halls, and support this institution are unionized. If we take away their collective bargaining rights, it will not only affect non-union UWW staff, it will affect every person on this campus, including students.

    Laws related to collective bargaining and unionization, especially in the private sector, affect every private sector employee. Just having that right there benefits everyone. Companies will treat employees fairly just to prevent the union from coming in. These laws that allow and protect workers who are trying to bargain benefit everyone. Even if you are non-union and your boss overheard you saying “I want to join a union” and then she/he fires you, YOU have remedies under the law. My point is, just as all private-sector employees benefit from the rights to unionize, the same holds true for private sector employees. Just having that right, whether or not you exercise it, benefits you.

    Thank you,
    Laura Steigerwald
    Human Resources Management Major &
    Legal Studies Minor Senior

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Protesters swarm Capitol