March 8th, 2011
06:04 PM ET

Tired but undaunted, Wisconsin protesters continue to make themselves heard

Francis Clark walked away from the Wisconsin capitol building in Madison with protest signs under his arms and leaned against a stone ledge.

"Man, we're tired. We need a day off," the chef from Madison said Tuesday to anyone walking by who would listen.

For three weeks, tens of thousands of protesters and union supporters from around the Midwest have flocked to Madison to rally against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate most collective bargaining powers from state worker unions.

The crowds have thinned since the ferocious early days of protests, but  protest chants still echoed through the golden halls of this gorgeous capitol building on Tuesday.

In the rotunda, union supporters took turns leading the crowd in protest chants. A woman held up a sign that read, "Walker's Bill is Sick. I know, I'm a nurse." And a small group of firefighters marched around the rotunda showing solidarity with the union protesters. (Police and firefighters will not lose their collective bargaining powers under the governor's proposal.)

All of this took place just feet away from the Republican governor's office. There's no question that the governor could hear the chants of the protesters as he worked to end the legislative stalemate.

On the capitol grounds, Walker is rarely seen outside his office. He did step out Tuesday to rip the Democrats who fled to Illinois. One Democrat in particular, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, took the brunt of the governor's lashing. In the press conference, Walker called the meeting idea "ridiculous" and said Miller was blocking compromise.

CNN has made repeated attempts to reach Miller the last few days and he has not returned our phone calls. But other Democratic senators who fled to Illinois say they support Miller and that the group remains unified.

The protesters at the capitol refer to the Democrats as "The Fab 14." Several Democratic senators say the group meets daily to discuss whether to return to Madison. Some are still hopeful that a compromise can be reached this week but others remain extremely skeptical.

"Negotiations with the governor’s office have broken down," Sen. Chris Larson said. "He’s not negotiating at all."

Larson argues that recent polls suggest the Democrats are gaining the upper hand in the battle over public opinion and that the senators will stay away as long as needed to get concessions from Gov. Walker. But Walker says the last election was the mandate he needed to make these changes.

In the meantime, Francis Clark keeps coming back to the capitol. He's tired but not giving up.

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Filed under: Gov. Scott Walker • Labor • Politics • Wisconsin
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Emanuel Contreras

    CNN, why have you not allowed responses on this topic? You make an article, but don't allow people to respond?

    March 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • MELISSA

      WHY AREN'T YOU COVERING OHIO? THE GOVERNOR HAS NOW FIXED THREE COMMITTEES BY REMOVING MEMBERS THAT AREN'T GOING TO VOTE THEIR WAY ON THE UNION BILL. WHY IS NO ONE REPORTING THIS???????? AT LEAST WISC IS ABLE TO FIGHT. OHIO IS PULLING THE RUG OUT FROM UNDERNEATH EVERYONE AND THE MEDIA IS IGNORING IT!

      March 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • bman

      Ohio gave us President Goerge W Bush. They deserve what ever happens to them.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      I don't know why CNN has this they of reply when most of the time it doesn't work.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      It seems that CNN does not have enough reporters to report the 50 State Capital protestors who in some of the Capitals were in the Thousands. Nothing on CNN/MSNBC. Of course the lies keep cpming from the Nutty Fox (RNC/Teaparty)stations. So it is not a surprise that Wolf and Copmpany fails in reporting what the brainless republican teaparty governors are doing in Ohio,Indiana,Pennsylvania,NJ, etc. etc. A cover up with News Blackout like in Libya.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • bobby99

      It is hard to figure out how to make comments on this site...hope they get it improved soon. Just want to say I looked up statistics on unions yesterday out of curiosity and found that only 11% of workers in the US. are union. The news media tries to make it sound like unions are the majority.....that is way.far from the truth.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patty

    DITTO!!!

    March 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    The protesters are tired. Can the surrounding states help? How?

    March 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      Why has Wolf. AC360 etc not done a full story on why the teaparty republicans in Congress and the various states have NOT cut their own Benefits, Pensions and yes the Socialistic Taxpayer paid HEALTHCARE?????
      Why has the Republican Congress NOT cut the wasteful 53 BILLION Dollars of Tax payer monies that is gifted to the OIL Companies? Why this silence? Teaparty republicans are behaving like the Taliban and the Media is as usual Silent on their Behavior. Zero Guts.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Maybe PBS is the only media source that does not have money coming in from interest parties only. Maybe that is why they want to cut 140 million from PBS. Stiffle any real source of news to stations with an agenda.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Frank Mills

    CNN: This reports the surface events. What about a larger story of how trickle-down economics has led to economic water-boarding of the middle class, not only in Wisconsin, but elsewhere. This is a deep rupture that needs airing. The country needs to face the underlying issues for Wisconsin is just the iceberg's tip.

    March 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      A large percentage of our economic woes come from almost a decade of wars. We have wasted our blood and our wealth in Iraq and Afghanistan – and now they're talking about more war in Libya! How about spending our wealth on our own education and infrastructure, and propping up the middle and lower classes in the USA? What do we do instead? Subsidize Exxon, spend on weapons and death, and give tax breaks to millionares! Something is wrong with this picture.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pam

    And where is the coverage of the demonstrations at Bank of America today? If banks had paid their income tax without the loopholes, we could have paid all the teachers that were laid off in the past couple of years.

    March 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zeta

    What that governor is doing is blackmail, plain and simple. What else would one call threatening to lay off 1500 employees if those Senators don't come back? He refuses to negotiate *anything*...it smacks of a Wisconsin dictatorship..."Here's the budget...if you don't like it...f*u?

    March 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    I think Francis Clark needs to get off his butt and pay for his health insurance just like the rest of us!

    March 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      Hey James have you asked that same question to your teaparty people? Why has the Governor and Republican teaparty Congress NOT cancelled their Taxpayer paid Socialiistic HEALTHCARE?? Taxpayer paid Pensions?
      Has a single Teaparty Republican Office Holder Cut their Pension (Tax payer PAID), or any other Taxpayer overpaid Benefits? A big ZERO. Teaparty stands for "Take Everything and Party" As long as it is our Tax Dollars that these republican grab and waste. $ 53 BILLION in Gifts to OIL companies TRILLIONS to the Wall Street and the Rich. Zero sharing of the pain.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Linda

    I am surprised these apologists for big labor have lasted this long. Fortunately, most have come to their senses and realized just who and what they were fighting for.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • HRMike

      Who's apologizing? All I see is determined citizens protesting and growing in numbers, union and non union members alike. They are not apologizing, they're supporting the people's right to collective bargaining. They are sending a message to all tyrant to keep their mitts off our rights. No apologies, no surrender.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. meee

    Shouldve waited until football season those idiot cheesers would never even know it happened until feb

    March 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. meee

    No other states arent going to help it isnt their battle or budget

    March 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      It is their battle. This whole mess in Madison is about much more than just the budget. This is about oppression of the working class. This is about the 98% standing up and telling the top 2% (and the puppet they instated) THIS WILL NOT STAND! If you are tired of working for low wages while your mortgage is under water and your kids' class sizes keep getting bigger, this is your battle. If you believe in taxing the billionaires instead of lowering wages for teachers (who start out making $35k in WI), this is your battle. This is about equality and integrity.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Stay strong, senators!

    March 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    To: The People of the United States and the People of Wisconsin: Beer tastes better from a glass than from a can. Thank you.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David

    How about cover the story in Florida, CNN?

    Rick Scott wants to make our law enforcement, teachers, nurses, doctors, and firemen pay for their retirement, deducting 5 percent of their pay. Are these the workers you want to take money from? The people who protect you from harm?

    March 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      Why has this Teaparty Republicans not Cut their own Pensions and Taxpayer paid Benefits like the Socialistic Healthcare which the republicans LOVE? Not a single lying Teaparty republican has cut their overpaid Salaries? Why Not?
      $53 BILLIONs of Taxpayer monies to the Oil Companies not cut Why not? The tax and spend Teaparty republicans gave TRILLIONS of Tax payer monies to the likes of Koch Brothers but did not ask them to share in the pain. Why Not?

      March 9, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. kt86

    I live in Wis., and it is just unbelievable how this arrogant governor has damaged our state. Beyond the budget "repair" bill, the budget has a slew of unnecessary, punitive cuts. The "we're broke" argument is a bunch of BS conconcted by the Repubs. because they don't want to ask the rich and corporations to pay anything. Where's their "fair share" of the burden??

    The national media, for the most part, has done a poor job of covering it, and hasn't nearly covered enough on Ohio, Indiana, etc.
    We've all got to stand together and fight this. It's nothing but an attack on the middle class by the rich and powerful, and it doesn't matter if you are public or private sector, union or not. We're gonna continue to get crushed if we don't fight back.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      As a fellow Wisconsinite, I completely agree with you! We need to stand together to protect our quality of life.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • tropic

      I agree too! I started marching against Gov. Walker on Feb. 14, every day have gone to capitol to fight – Non-union and marching for the rights of my friends and neighbors.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    People, wake up! This is class warfare. It`s time for the working class to rise up and take back our country. I also think it`s long past time to go to a flat tax for everybody, and eliminate all write offs for everybody. Maybe a 10% tax on everybody from the poor to the Millionaires and Billionaires. No more write offs for anybody. Make everybody earn it, including businesses and wealthy people, without their precious tax breaks. This will stop people from constantly worrying that somebody is getting a bigger piece of the pie. If everybody pays the same rate, with no write offs, there is no need for anybody to be jealous.
    Next, put a 25% tarrif on all imports to stop China and other countries from destroying our working class. Use the money to pay down our debt. If the big corporations don`t like it, let them leave. We are strong enough to survive without them.
    The race to the bottom was started by tricky Dick Nixon and his buddy Henry Kissinger, and has continued with every President (including Carter, Reagan, read-my-lips Bush, Slick Willie, the idiot Bush, and now Obama. Now is the time to stop the ongoing race top the bottom. Support the working class people. Wake up!
    Stop bashing the Union workers. They pay more taxes than the politicians and big businesses. They are just working class, regular people. It`s too bad that so many people have to be jealous of anybody earning more than Walmart wages. The race to the bottom has to stop now.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
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