Across the United States words of solidarity for workers rights and concerns about a union-busting wave are circulating through popular social media sites. The Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protests began on February 15, 2011 in response to Republican-led measures to balance a projected 3.6 billion state budget shortfall by diminishing union-based public employee benefits and collective bargaining rights.
This proposal has sparked a people's movement against the conservative agenda – that within the United States – has led to many comparisons with ongoing uprisings in the Middle East and especially Egypt.
Since February 20, the protesters have been camping inside and outside the state Capitol building in Wisconsin 24-hours a day. The following video by Stew Fyfe on Vimeo depicts protesters singing the national anthem “The Star Bangled Banner” inside the Capitol building at around 10 p.m. on February 21.
Three weeks into the protests, Capitol security began to crack down on the protesters bunking down in the building and have restricted additional public access.
On February 28, The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin wrote a letter to the Department of Administration Secretary, Michael Huebsch pointing out that closing the state house to the public is unconstitutional. Democratic representatives have moved their desks outside of the building in order to be able to meet with their constituents.
Protesters continue to camp out on the Capitol grounds in what they now call “Walkerville.” The following video by Stew Fyfe on Vimeo shows some of the protesters just after midnight on March 1, 2011.
Additional protest video footage includes Matt Wisniewski's piece which has been viewed by tens of thousands. His video demonstrates the passion and high energy of the protesters in Wisconsin.
Lawmakers, celebrities, activists and union organizers across the nation are also rallying around the Wisconsin protest ideals. From the West Coast to the East Coast to the Southwest, people are outraged regarding the recent anti-union measures in Wisconsin and are organizing to protect their states from similar fates.
Advocates met in Annapolis, Maryland on February 22, 2011 to express their views regarding the recent anti-union events in Wisconsin. Speakers commented that they would not allow the recession or budget deficits to be used as an excuse to eliminate collective bargaining rights in their state.
The California Nurse's Association organized a rally on February 22,2011 on the steps of the state Capitol. Speakers expressed that the recent anti-union legislation in Wisconsin was an assault on the working class values of America and signals a fight for democracy.
Austinites gathered on February 26, 2011 and demonstrated at the state Capitol with the charismatic Jim Hightower leading a discussion about how Washington is not going to save them, that it was up to the people to solve their own problems and stand up for the very idea of America. He also said it was no longer enough just to be “progressive,” and is now time to be “aggressive.”