Protesters have been converging on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, since mid-February to protest the governorâ€™s budget bill. Their voices are angry, energetic, accusatory.
The bill, which proponents say reels in spending but critics say is an overt attempt at union-busting, prompted 14 Democratic state senators to leave the state so they wouldnâ€™t be forced to vote on the bill.
Despite reports of progress in the negotiations, there are still several bones of contention. The original bill by Gov. Scott Walker requires all public workers but police officers and firefighters to increase contributions to their pension and health insurance, and it prohibits unions from collecting dues.
It also restricts the unionsâ€™ collective bargaining power, caps wages and requires annual votes for unions to remain certified, which critics say would be costly.
The crowds have thinned since the protests first began, but many remain adamant that Walkerâ€™s bill must be defeated. Here is what some of them are saying:
The 58-year-old from Madison said heâ€™s worn out from walking 5 or 6 miles a day during the last 12 days of the protests.
He accuses the statehouse of â€śbully politicsâ€ť and said he doesnâ€™t appreciate â€śthe way theyâ€™re trying to change things, ram things down our throat without a chance of really seeing the bill.â€ť
ď»żAn e-mail exchange released by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office on Tuesday revealed a series of potential Republican concessions to a three-week stand-off over a budget bill that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of most public workers.
The e-mails show a discussion between Walker's deputy chief of staff, Eric Schutt, and Democratic state Sens. Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch.FULL STORY
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, butÂ 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.)