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A year after anti-worker onslaught

60,000 protest as Wisconsin uprising continues

Published Mar 16, 2012 10:00 PM
Photo: Jenna Pope

Displaying the mighty power of workers and the poor in Wisconsin and beyond, more than 60,000 protesters flooded the State Capitol grounds for a people’s march and rally on March 10. Refusing to be beaten down by union busting and austerity imposed by Gov. Scott Walker and his 1% bosses, the rainbow of protesters made clear that the people’s uprising in Wisconsin is in full fightback motion. March 10 was the one-year anniversary of when the state Legislature illegally rammed through, and Walker signed, the union-busting bill attacking public sector workers.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, the rally and protest included union and community members, students and progressive faith-based participants from every corner of the state. Strong delegations came from Milwaukee, where the majority of people of color reside in the state. Numerous buses and car caravans were sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, the Laborers Union, Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, Service Employees Local 1 and other unions.

Other participants from Milwaukee included members of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera and the WI Bail Out the People Movement.

Occupy Wall Street groups from Fondulac, Madison, Milwaukee, Riverwest and elsewhere joined together in a powerful, diverse contingent. They marched around the Capitol with a massive “We are the 99 percent” banner and chanted slogans such as “Make the banks pay!”

Speakers at the main rally on the Capitol steps included Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Firefighters union, Mary Kay Henry, national president of SEIU, and Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

The rally was the culmination of a statewide, weeks-long tour by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO to expose the effects of the union-busting and austerity measures and continue building the people’s movement, which includes the upcoming recall election of Walker and other right-wing racist politicians.

On the evening of March 9, candlelight vigils were held throughout the state in a symbolic gesture to shed light on all the lies of the Walker administration and its bosses on Wall Street. In a moving display of people’s power, thousands at the state Capitol held aloft candles and then marched down State Street led by the Firefighters and their pipers.

To see photos and videos of the March 10 rally and for information on upcoming events, go to wibailoutpeople.org.