Protests Continue For Second Day In Madison As Senate Takes Up Right To Work

Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald Says He Has Votes To Pass Legislation

Breann Schossow/WPR

Protesters in the state Capitol early on Wednesday afternoon. Breann Schossow/WPR

Protesters returned to the state Capitol on Wednesday to rally against right-to-work legislation that’s before the Senate for a vote.

Union members and other opponents spoke out against the Republican-backed bill at a noontime rally outside the Capitol, while others sang protest songs inside. Capitol Police estimated that the crowd at the rally included between 1,800 and 2,000 people, the same number that was given on Tuesday.

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Phil Neuenfeldt, the president of Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO, was one of the speakers at the rally.

“They’d like to think that they can have an extraordinary session, ram this through in a couple days, and we’re all going to go home and forget about what happened here,” said Neuenfeldt. “Well, we’re not going to forget about this, we’re not going to stop fighting.”

During his speech, Neuenfeldt announced that his group would be at the Capitol Saturday to show solidarity, and invited protesters to join him.

After the rally, right-to-work opponents headed into the Capitol and are continuing to protest outside of the Senate. The number of protesters began to dwindle, however, as the afternoon progressed.

Keith Kemper with Sheet Metal Workers Local 18 said politicians need to be held accountable.

“The right-to-work bill is not about helping working families — it’s about paying back their friends who have their interest in mind. Not yours, not ours, and certainly, not Wisconsin’s,” said Kemper.

The Senate began debate on the measure starting at 1:30 p.m. Republicans hold an 18-14 majority in the Senate and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he has 17 votes to pass it.

Senate Democrats say they’re going to try and amend the bill to raise the minimum wage and make other changes.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with quotes from Phil Neuenfeldt’s speech and images of the protest inside the Capitol rotunda.