Thousands Protest Anti-Union Bill in Wisconsin

Teachers angry at governor's proposal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2011 6:12 PM CST
Thousands Protest Anti-Union Bill in Wisconsin
Protesters to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers demonstrate in at the State Capitol in Madison.   (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Thousands of teachers, prison guards, and students descended on the Wisconsin Capitol for a second day today to fight a move to take union rights away from government workers. The Statehouse filled with as many as 10,000 demonstrators, and Madison teachers joined the protest by calling in sick in such numbers that the district had to cancel classes. Republican Gov. Scott Walker is seeking passage of the nation's most aggressive anti-union proposal, which was moving swiftly through the GOP-led legislature.

In addition to eliminating collective bargaining rights, the legislation would also make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6% of their health care coverage—increases Walker calls "modest" compared to those in the private sector. He says the moves are needed to help balance a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall and avoid widespread layoffs. Voting could begin tomorrow. (More Wisconsin stories.)

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