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. BillyD1953

    It's stunning how upset these protesters get at the thought of actually having to live their lives the way the rest of us do–without tenure, pension, high salaries, summers off, extra pay for graduate degrees. Spoiled whiners. Who do they think they are!

    March 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • HRMike

      They are hard working Americans like you and me. They teach our kids, and nurse us back to health. Instead of criticizing them, try getting a masters degree and work for 40k... only dedication to our kid's future does that. You should be grateful that we still have so many UNSELFISH patriots in this country. Solidarity!!! Without it, YOU MAY BE NEXT!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    @ConcernedCitizen: $40-$65k per year spread over 12 months for a contract of 187 days is a sweet deal. I stand behind my post.

    March 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. L64

    So are teachers being bashed because they chose to get a college degree in a service that's vital and then further bashed when they continue their education to make them better at what they do and then deserve appropriate pay? Because no other industry does that, right? Sounds like jealousy to me. Wonder what would happen if everyone had to educate their own kids? Bet you'd all really be screaming then.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    @L64: You're right, "no other profession does that." Pay them a full year salary for working 187/365 days = 51% of the year. If you don't get it by my 2nd post, you never will.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. L64

    You have no idea what a teacher really does. I'd be willing to bet you wouldn't last a quarter. The sad thing is that the total lack of respect for teachers and education by students is learned from their parents. Want to know why education is failing? Look in the mirror.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. L64

    And we arent paid a full year salary. We are paid for a 9 month contract. Period. We just take home less over the year so we can 'save' it for the summer. I bring home 33k for working aug 9- june 4 and simply choose to receive it over 12 months instead of 9.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    L64: Come on L64, be honest. Not all teachers deserve such pay. A 10 year experienced 3rd grade PE teacher earns the same as a 10 year experienced English teacher. The PE teacher only works 5 days a week. The English teacher works 5 days a week, plus after school, plus some lunch times, plus weekends for a stinking $600 stipend. That is hardly fair to the English teacher. If you can't see the disparity in pay, then I don't know what to tell you.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    $33K is more than a lot of people earn in a year. So going by that criteria, yes it is a full year's pay. Those 9 months you mention are not 9 months. You don't work weekends, or holidays. Those 9 months are only 187 days, less the 10 paid sick days you get paid.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. L64

    Actually our pe teachers pull the same duties. They also work in classrooms with small groups of kids when not teaching their class. They turn in lesson plans. They attend the same training we do (100 hrs plus, part of which has to be taken during those summers we just laze around in).

    March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. L64

    So then go get a degree and up your market value. Or start teaching your own kids, because with the way teachers are being treatee, that's the road we're headed down. I recommend shadowing a teacher for a week or two. Come back and talk to me then when you have some real data. Pick a school like mine-over 60 percent hispanic, 94 per cent poverty, reading levels 2 or more grades below the norm and parents who think nothing of screaming in your face. Oh, and gangs. Then we'll have some common ground.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    Excuse me, but PE teachers don't teach. Their responsibility is motivating the students in exercise. PE lesson plan, Hah! You could do one of those in your sleep. Math, English, Science, History teachers, teach-of course not all. Some sit on their brains and give busy work while they grade papers during instruction time.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      Cesar, I would be very interested to know what your profession is? You don't sound very educated or informed. No wonder you have such a bad taste for education.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. L64

    Oh, and l teach elementary so go with 4th or 5th grade maybe.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mr. Lee

    L 64 you motherfukker I told you you are a marked man, you motherfukker

    March 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. L64

    M, pe teachers also teach in my school. You need to educate yourself. You have kids in school?

    March 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cesar

    Let's not forget those free off days due to weather. Then in May you all get a waiver and don't make up those days. You lazy teachers like that, don't you. Free ride, and you get paid for it too. Must be nice, L64.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
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