About the protests, we have this report from The Guardian,
Tens of thousands of demonstrators staged a fourth successive day of protests in Wisconsin against the most sustained "union-bashing" measures proposed in the US for decades.
Wisconsin has become a test-bed for Republicans planning similar anti-labour moves elsewhere as they seek to remove union rights and cut benefits in states facing huge holes in their budgets.
Unions, backed by Barack Obama, have responded by mobilising workers throughout the country in support of Wisconsin workers.
Reuters tell us:
Police estimated that 35,000 protesters converged on the Capitol grounds in Madison on Friday, with another 5,000 demonstrators packed inside the building itself, said Carla Vigue, a spokeswoman with the Wisconsin Department of Administration.And we hear from Associated Press that Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca vowed to fight to the bitter end
...in a speech delivered on the Assembly floor after Republicans had turned off the microphones and left.
"This is wrong!" Barca shouted to wild applause from the packed gallery. "Desperately wrong and we will not stand for it!"Meanwhile, we pass along this message from Teamsters Local 344:
ATTENTION ALL LOCAL 344 MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES!!! Drop what you are doing and go to the Capitol tomorrow (Feb. 19th) at 10:30am. All Teamsters please converge on the intersection of State St. and Capitol Square (across from the Veterans Museum). We must defeat Govenor Walker's budget bill!! This is urgent!!! Your future is at stake!!!
Teamsters arrived in force in Madison today, carrying banners, flags and homemade signs. One said "Our only dispute is with Gov. Scott Walker." Another had a photo of (Republican) President Eisenhower next to his quote: "Only a fool would deprive working men and women of their right to join a union."
Demonstrations are spreading to dozens of states next week.
This isn't just about Wisconsin or Ohio or Indiana. And it isn't just about unions, government or otherwise. This is about middle-class Americans rising up because they're sick to death of working harder and harder while earning less as politicians ignore their economic needs in favor of their corporate backers who just want to ship more jobs overseas. As Teamsters President Hoffa wrote today,
In Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire and Minnesota, people are flooding statehouses to say “no" to declining wages, “no” to economic instability that threatens their families, “no” to greedy CEOs and predatory corporations that try to suck every last penny from their wallets, “no” to the politicians who campaign for the middle class and then dance to the tune of the super-wealthy after they're sworn in.
For decades, politicians have distracted Americans with cultural issues like guns and religion while they've done nothing to solve the real economic problems that are wrecking the middle class.
What they're trying to do in Wisconsin and Ohio and New Hampshire and Michigan and Indiana and elsewhere is to silence unions. They know that unions make it harder for corporations to pass laws that weaken protections for middle-class families -- protections like Social Security and pensions, food and product safety laws, collective bargaining rights and minimum wage requirements. Can you believe that in Missouri they want to get rid of child labor laws, and there's a Tea Party U.S. Senator who agrees?
Now is the time to make your voice heard. Now is the time for the media elite to finally notice there's something in America called “middle-class workers.” Now is the time to gather your family, grab a sign and take to the streets to deliver a message to the big corporations and their political puppets. Now is the time to tell them what they’re telling them in Wisconsin, "We're not gonna take it anymore."