All yesterday and today, I would much rather have been at the Capitol than at work. I would much rather have been in the midst of the noise and motion and movement and solidarity. Mr. PW has been there the past three days, soaking it up. He took me back last night, and we were there from around 7 to around midnight, soaking in the atmosphere. It's been just incredible. I don't even know how to put into words what's been going on. In case you don't know, Wisconsin's governor wants to take away collective bargaining rights for the public unions in WI. They would only be able to negotiate salary, and that would be limited to cost of living increases. He announced it on Friday, and planned to pass it today. No public discussion, no time to debate, no changes. Just dictatorship. Unions were already willing to give concessions, but the governor simply wants to take away their ability to protect themselves. Let's not even get into how disproportionately this would affect the mostly female home health care and child care workers, who are explicitly prohibited from collective bargaining in the bill.
On Tuesday there was 10,000. Yesterday there was 15,000. Today - they estimate 30,000 have packed the Capitol Rotunda and marched around the Capitol. Most represented are the TAA, WEAC, and AFSCME. But there have been more - firefighters and cops, both exempted from the proposal, have both shown up to raucous, deafening cheers. High school students from around Madison have walked out on class by the hundreds and walked to the Rotunda in protest. And of course, there are those of us who simply believe this is the right thing to do.
The State Senate Democrats didn't show up for work today. In fact, they left the state. They're reportedly in Northern Illinois. They refused to vote today. Banners have arrived in the Rotunda sending messages of solidarity from San Francisco, Boston, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Baltimore, and Detroit.
I would give anything to be there. But right now I know I'd be more of a hindrance than a help. I'll look at pictures with you instead.
There's more to be found if you look at the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times (where I ganked these photos) and all over Facebook. Look. Be aware. This is history.