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Up to 100,000 people protested at the Wisconsin state Capitol on Saturday against a new law curbing the union rights of public workers that is seen as one of the biggest challenges in decades facing U.S. organized labor.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain estimated the crowd at 85,000 to 100,000 people, which would top the size of protests in Madison during the Vietnam War…
Republicans say the measures are needed to gain control of deficit-ridden budgets. Democrats and their union backers say Republicans are ramming through union-busting proposals.
Protesters on Saturday cheered the Democratic state senators who returned to Wisconsin after fleeing to Illinois for three weeks to try to stall the Legislature’s consideration of the measure.
“It’s so good to be home in Wisconsin,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller told demonstrators, who chanted, “Welcome Home” and “We’re With You.”
“Our fight to protect union rights has become a fight to protect all our rights — a fight to protect democracy,” said Miller. “You have inspired the nation with your passionate and peaceful protests…”
Restrictions on public sector unions have been introduced in a number of other U.S. states with Republican governors, including Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and Florida. Some Democrats see it as the opening salvo of the 2012 presidential election because unions are the biggest single contributors to the Democratic Party.
Who knows. This may herald a return to the days when unions provided a much-needed backbone to the Democratic Party.
Yes, you know how much of a cynic I am. Optimist; but, cynic. Lighting a fire under the barely-Left half of America’s political establishment may ignite a matching fire in the eye of politicians who like to say they are allied to the mass of American voters.