A crowd of around 100,000 people rallied in support of Wisconsin public service unions in the state capital on Saturday, February 26. Sisters Kelti Cameron, Mary McCarthy, and Margot Young were there to show CUPE’s support and solidarity for Wisconsin’s over 280,000 public workers. They sent this report from Madison.
Municipal workers began Saturday with a rally outside Madison City Hall. Workers then proudly marched into the capital building where they were met by several other contingents there to show solidarity for the hundreds of protesters occupying the capital building.
We joined other Canadian union representatives at the capital, and watched as municipal workers, Iraq war veterans among others, showed their solidarity for the people keeping 24-hour watch over the building. Workers, students and community groups have peacefully occupied the capital building for more than ten days. Some nights there have been more then 600 people sleeping here.
We mounted the CUPE flag in the rotunda, along side solidarity messages from around the world that have been carefully pasted on the walls using blue painters tape so not to damage the well preserved building.
The weekend culminated in an unprecedented rally. Solidarity events took place across Wisconsin, and in state capitals across the US.
Reports from Madison police estimate the crowd at around 100,000 people, all there to voice opposition to the so-called “Budget Repair Bill” which will strip union members of their right to bargain collectively. Republican Governor Scott Walker’s bill is not only an attack on basic rights to collectively bargain but also a threat to public services such as Medicaid and basic education.
Throughout the day, the chant “Kill the bill” rang out from the crowds.
Most of the speakers at the rally were from Wisconsin, and illustrated the pervasiveness of opposition to the bill. Protesters heard from public sector workers about the value of the services they provide and their commitment to the work they do. They commended the 14 democratic state senators who’ve left the state; send a clear message to Walker that they are not backing down.
The crowd warmly welcomed us and rest of the Canadian delegation, showing us solidarity truly has no borders.
Update: CUPE stands united with Wisconsin public workers (February 26)
Read Paul Moist’s letter to Governor Walker
Read Paul Moist’s letter of support to the Wisconsin AFL-CIO
For more news and information on rally’s being held across the state visit these websites: