Thousands Protest Against Right To Work In Madison Over Weekend

About 3K Activists Attended Rally In Madison

Preston Austin (CC-BY-SA)

Many protesters referenced Gov. Scott Walker’s remarks at CPAC from the previous week with their signs. Shawn Johnson/WPR

An estimated 3,000 people gathered at the state capitol Saturday to protest a Republican right-to-work bill that will receive its final public hearing in the Legislature on Monday.

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Right-to-work laws ban mandatory union dues at private-sector businesses. A bill to make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state is currently being fast-tracked by Republicans through the Legislature, and will likely be signed by Gov. Scott Walker into law when it reaches his desk.

Among the most fiery speakers at rally on the steps of the Capitol Saturday was Teamster Bill Carroll, who said this bill was written by a “secret society” of businesses that has “nothing but contempt” for working people. Carroll said that right to work undermines unions and makes it harder for them to stand up to management.

“This legislation, which is a lie … is covered by a thin cloak of a claim of worker freedom. When we remove this cloak, and see the bill for what it is, you see the body of labor, suffering the death of a thousand cuts, one scab at a time,” said Carroll.

Carrol said he expected the bill would become law, and once that happened, unions would need to educate people who might otherwise not pay their dues.

Many in the crowd Saturday carried signs saying “I’m not a terrorist,” referring to a recent remark Walker made at the Conservative Political Action Conference. When asked how he would deal with threats such as the Islamic State group if he becomes president, Walker referenced his last clash with unions, saying that if he could take on 100,000 protesters, he could do the same across the world.

Some of the speakers at the protest, like Wisconsin Education Association Council President Betsy Kippers, called Walker out for the comment.

“I stand before you as a proud teacher and union member — not as a terrorist. In school, what they are doing, we would call it bullying. And we will not stand for it,” said Kippers.

An Assembly committee will hear testimony on the right-to-work bill starting at 10 a.m. on Monday.