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Slide Show: Wisconsin's Protests In Pictures | The Nation

Slide Show: Wisconsin's Protests In Pictures

  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at an inauguration ceremony in Madison, January 3, 2011 (1 of 11)

    Shortly after taking office in January, Wisconsin’s new Republican Governor, Scott Walker, began an attack on public workers, submitting a proposal to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights. Walker’s move, says The Nation’s John Nichols, represents the “most radical assault yet by the current crop of Republican governors on the rights of workers and would be the first major overhaul of union laws that the nation has seen in years.”

     

    But Wisconsin’s workers are fighting back: demonstrations have exploded across the historically progressive and pro-labor state and are now in their fourth day, with the state’s capital, Madison, the epicenter of the growing backlash to Walker’s anti-worker efforts.

     

    Credit: AP Images

  • Protesters in the State Capitol building, February 15 (2 of 11)

    In one of the first actions of the protests, thousands of students, public employees and other Wisconsinites stormed the state’s Capitol building to protest the governor’s bill on Tuesday. Over the last few days the turnout has swelled into the tens of thousands. Madison and surrounding area public schools have been closed since Tuesday as teachers call in sick to attend the rallies.

     

    Credit: AP Images

  • Protesters on the steps of the Capitol, February 15 (3 of 11)

    The Madison protests are the biggest the city has seen in decades, perhaps since the great protests of the Vietnam War era, Nichols writes. Buses have rolled in from across the state to join the movement and thousands of high school students and university students have showed their support for their teachers, chanting messages like “We support public education!” and “What’s Disgusting? Union Busting!”

     

    Credit: AP Images

  • Protesters in Madison, February 16 (4 of 11)

    The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Teaching Assistants’ Association TAA called for a “teach out” Thursday, asking for all activity to cease on campus so that the university could stand as unified front against the bill.

     

    Students have played a central role in organizing, including a sleep-in at the State Capitol building for the last two nights and walk-outs on campuses and high schools across the state.

     

    Credit: AP Images

     

  • “Can the National Guard teach Organic Chemistry?” February 18 (5 of 11)

    In a bizarre move, Walker notified the National Guard to be on alert for actions taken by unsatisfied state, county and municipal employees. The state of Wisconsin hasn’t called in the National Guard since 1886.

     

    But as Nichols said on his appearance today on Democracy Now!, “the interesting thing is that we have already heard from an awful lot of teachers and public employees, who also serve in the National Guard, and who are saying they have no idea why they would be called out to beat down or to beat back protests by their fellow workers, who are not being violent, who are simply doing what—you know, to use an analogy here—we saw on the streets of Cairo and other cities.”

     

    Credit: AP Images

  • Protesters in Madison, February 18 (6 of 11)

    After Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl victory earlier this month, Governor Walker “bathed himself sensuously in the team’s triumph,” The Nation’s Dave Zirin writes. “He oozed praise for the franchise named in honor of the state’s packing workers. But just days later, the Governor offered cutbacks, contempt and even the threat of violence for actual state workers.”

     

    In response, the team released a statement Tuesday expressing their opposition to the bill: “We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great,” the Packers’ denunciation of Walker’s plans reads. “The right to negotiate wages and benefits is a fundamental underpinning of our middle class. When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards… Public workers are Wisconsin’s champions every single day and we urge the Governor and the State Legislature to not take away their rights.”

     

    Credit: Reuters Pictures

  • A sign in the window of Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller’s office, February 18 (7 of 11)

    Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate walked out of the Capitol on Thursday to boycott the bill, which the state’s Republicans are trying to push through before opposition becomes too fierce. This robbed the Republicans of the majority quorum necessary to call a vote, stalling any action on the bill.

     

    Governor Walker called the walk out a “stunt” and claimed the Democrats were disrespecting democracy, but protesters responded with chants of “This is what democracy looks like.” John Nichols says that the words of Wisconsin’s greatest governor, Robert M. La Follette prove Walker wrong: “Tyranny and oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other.”

     

    Credit: Reuters Pictures

  • Protesters at the Capitol, February 16 (8 of 11)

    “If anybody didn’t know this was coming,” Walker proclaimed yesterday, “they’ve been asleep for two years.” But Walker hadn’t mentioned his plan to dismantle the collective bargaining process during his campaign, and had actually promised to work across lines of partisanship and ideology to create jobs. According to recent polls, Wisconsinites overwhelmingly oppose Walker’s bill.

     

    Credit: AP Images

  • A sign in the Wisconsin State Capitol, February 18 (9 of 11)

    Wisconsin isn’t alone: conservatives emboldened by November’s election results have launched what they hope will be their final offensive against America’s unions, Jane McAlevey writes in this week’s issue of The Nation.

     

    Attacks on unions aren’t new, but the “scale, intensity and real possibility of success” of recent efforts are a real cause for concern. “After outspending unions in November’s election by an estimated 4-to-1 margin," McAlevey explains, “corporations and their allies are exploiting the fiscal crises across the nation to drive a stake into the heart of what is left of organized labor—public workers’ unions.”

     

    Credit: Reuters Pictures

  • Inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, February 18 (10 of 11)

    Government workers face attacks in every state. Ohio, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Oklahoma are also considering collective bargaining for public sector workers, and if Walker is successful, other states are expected to follow suit.

     

    That means that now is the time, as Katrina vanden Heuvel writes, “for global, nonviolent challenge to anti-democratic forces, wherever they may be—forces that have enriched themselves while promising stability based on coercion, suppression of rights and profound corruption.”

     

    Credit: Reuters Pictures

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks to protesters, February 18 (11 of 11)

    The fight in Wisconsin could be coming to your state soon. Stop the right’s attack on unions in its tracks by joining Wisconsin demonstrators in a virtual march. The signatures will be delivered to Democratic leaders in the target states. And if you’re a Wisconsin voter you can sign this petition pledging to support a recall of any and all State Senators supporting Walker’s bill.

     

    With Jesse Jackson and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka making appearances in Madison today, the protests are expected to grow through the weekend. Check back at TheNation.com for updates.

     

    Research for this slide show provided by Sara Jerving

     

    Credit: Reuters Pictures

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