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.