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VIDEO: Local Dems Join Thousands Protesting in Madison

150 North Shore residents march Saturday in Wisconsin rally against law weakening public employees' bargaining rights.

An estimated 100,000 people marched on the Capitol in Madison, WI, on Saturday to protest a law signed by Gov. Scott Walker last week that decreases bargaining rights for public employees throughout the state.

At least 150 of those protesters came from the North Shore, where members of the Tenth Congressional District Democrats organized a trip to Madison to join the demonstration. 

"This matters to more than just people in Wisconsin," said Lauren Beth Gash, founder of the organization. "There's no question that people are worried that this kind of class warfare will spread beyond the many states it's already occurring in."

Armed with signs and a Tenth Dems banner, 24 of the 150 participants met at the parking lot in Highland Park on Saturday morning and divided into cars for the drive to Wisconsin. Once they arrived, the group joined the tens of thousands of protesters marching around the Capitol.

"This is a game-changer," Highland Park resident Herb Brenner said about the turnout. "This is saying that the Democrats really need to get out and get the word out that this is not acceptable."

The currently signed legislation that sparked the mass demonstration removes many collective bargaining rights for public employees. It also gives the state the ability to fire employees for going on strike, and makes it illegal for unions to deduct fees from their members' paychecks. 

"People are concerned that other states will take away rights," Gash said.

Though the passage of this law seems like a blow to those fighting for unions, many of the protesters see their struggle as just beginning. Gash, who served in the Illinois House of Representatives for four terms, said that when it comes to legislation, "nothing is ever final."

"Often people say, 'It's already passed; it doesn't matter.' But that's not generally true in a legislative body," she said. "It's not always immediate; it's not always pleasant; it's a very messy process."

Many protesters held signs advocating the recall of Wisconsin's governor as well as the Republican state senators who supported the bill.

Also present at Saturday's demonstration were Hollywood celebrities, including Susan Sarandon and Tony Shalhoub, the star of the TV show Monk. Shalhoub introduced his sister, an educator in Green Bay, WI, during the rally. The Foo Fighters' guitarist Chris Shiflett performed a protest song during the afternoon march.

But the real celebrities were "The Fab 14," the nickname for the 14 Democratic state legislators who hid in Illinois for weeks in a failed attempt to prevent a vote on the bill.

"We ran into the mayor of Madison, and he went up to us and thanked us for housing the legislators in Illinois," said Ilya Sheyman, a Waukegan resident and member of the Tenth Dems. "It just felt like folks there appreciate us standing with them."

Sheyman echoed Gash's view that Saturday's demonstration was just the beginning.

"Everyone emphasized that what really resonated is that this isn't the end of the fight," he said. "This is the beginning of a movement." 

William H. Friedlich March 14, 2011 at 02:02 PM
Just another embarrassment from the liberals who still believe that handouts are superior to hard work. We have a president whose major advisers are Ayers, Dorn, Farrakhan and Wright. Then you have the 14 cowards who ran from their elected duties to represent their constituents. I will bet my last $ that at least one voter in their district was for the vote. If so, then the cowards should be recalled. This is just the start. We must bring this to Highland Park. Stop these liberals who control the city counsel. We must bust the unions. Bust big government. The movement is just started. Just watch!
Ellen Beth Gill March 14, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I sure hope the commenters above got a good payout from the Koch brothers for their efforts. The policies they wish to see in Wisconsin, Illinois too, won't be good for anyone other than the very wealthiest in the long run. It doesn't matter whether you are in a union yourself because states where unions are the weakest, the so-called "Right to Work" states, have the lowest wages for everyone, union or not. These states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Their wages are 11.1% lower than in other states. If you own a small business, you might think union busting is ok with you because you can pay your workers less. However, your customers will also have less to spend on your business. The truth is that everyone does better when everyone does better. The foolish commenters above were either paid to write what they wrote or steeped in Fox News tea party lies about what it means to be in a union state.
Daniel Krudop March 14, 2011 at 04:18 PM
I was a member of the Teamsters Union and the National Federation of Federal Employees Union. I don't have a problem with private sector unions. Having been involved with both private sector and public sector unions, I agree with FDR and George Meany, that public sector unions are not conducive to responsive, responsible public servants. I also base my opinion on involvement with a public sector union. Did you get your opinion from Media Matters talking points?
Randy Seffren March 14, 2011 at 05:09 PM
The problem is that old union programs are chocked full of what is bad business. I am pro-education, pro-teacher, and open on unions. However I have had to suffer incredible price premiums when working with Union locations/shops at times for what in return was average to below-average quality work and there was nothing I could do about it. When in comes to the garbage that drives up costs read the story on this link http://walker.wi.gov/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=177&prid=5676 I am not pro-Walker but this is the problem he and the state of wisconsin is facing. If you haven't watched the movie "waiting for superman" watch it immediately and see the poor state that education is in in the United States, and see where much of the problem falls, its the unions. When you can't fire a teacher for doing a bad job, when you have to pay double pensions, and on and on its just bad business. Did Walker go about it properly, no probably not. But from a business perspective he is doing precisely the right thing to get rid of the horrible provisions built into the union agreements. Read the link, watch the movie and till you have done this don't make up your mind. It will surprise you it surely shocked me.
Paul Smith March 14, 2011 at 05:45 PM
What's happening in Wisconsin is a long overdue market correction. Gov. Walker has the guts to make what is obviously an unpopular decision with those state employees directly affected. Unfortunately for those of us who live in Illinois, our "leaders" in Springfield have no desire whatsover to do what is best for the taxpayers and will just continue to give money we don't have away to the public unions. The Tribune has a good editorial on this today that Ms. Gill - and anyone else who doesn't understand why we can't afford the same old model of compensating public employees - should read. See link below. I've also linked to a good Jonah Goldberg column on this topic. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-pension-20110312,0,4277223.story http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-0223-goldberg-20110222,0,7574542.column

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