Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker may have won the battle to strip workers of their rights to collective bargaining but he certainly has not won the war against the unions.
Reaction to the republicans ramming the bill through the senate Wednesday night was swift. Thousands of trade-unionists and their supporters poured into the streets of Madison, with pleas being sent out for reinforcements. Cries of ‘impeach Walker’ reverberated everywhere. Fire trucks circled the capitol blaring their sirens in protest. Union leaders called an emergency meeting to discuss a general strike. And a furious Peter Barca, Assembly Minority Leader, bellowed that this hasty vote was illegal, done in violation of the state’s open meeting laws.
Senator Bob Jauch is also furious with Walker, referring to him as a “fraud” because it is now obvious his bill had nothing to do with the budget:
It was about stripping workers’ rights. I was personally trying to negotiate a settlement with Walker. It’s clear now that he was not trying to make any changes.
Anger swelled among the protesters over being shut out of the democratic process. There was no notice of the impending vote and the capitol building was locked to prevent access by the public. But they did not remain outside the building for long after the vote, as the democrats immediately requested a room for a hearing and opened the doors for the public. The protesters flooded in, determined to have their voices heard. Chants of “the people united will never be defeated” “this is what democracy looks like” “general strike” resounded through the capitol. Cheers erupted as they were joined by a large contingent of firefighters. The crowd is determined to occupy the building, some planning to blockade the doors to the Assembly to prevent Thursday’s vote.
Local police were present but were under orders from Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to not attempt to remove the protesters. State troopers later appeared in force but stated they did not have orders to clear the building.
Could this be Walker’s Dien Bien Phu? With thousands of protesters calling for their recall and public opinion increasingly against them, the political futures of Walker, the Fitzgerald Brothers and the other republicans look bleak indeed. According to Senator Jauch, the people will have help from the Wisconsin Fighting 14 in their recall efforts:
We will stand with the people of Wisconsin, and push for a recall of the lawmakers who voted for this. I believe we can do it.
And what does he think about this vote that was taken without warning, without public notice and without debate?
This vote was political thuggery. It’s more like Moscow than Madison.
Well said, Senator.