Wisconsin Protests

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Background

Weeks of public protest followed a controversial "budget repair bill" that Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced, February 11, 2011. Collective bargaining for public workers started in Wisconsin 50 years ago. For unions, the heart of the controversy was not the health care and pension contributions contained in the bill, but the direct attack on the ability of unions to organize and collectively bargain. A series of measures in the budget repair bill, including annual re-certification of unions with a majority of all eligible voters (not just a majority of those voting), will make it difficult for unions to function or effectively represent workers.

Wisconsin Protest Timeline

CMD slideshow of WI protests signs and images (Feb - Mar 2011)

November 2010

  • November 2, 2010 Scott Walker defeats Democratic candidate Tom Barrett 52 percent to 47 percent in the Wisconsin governor’s race. [1]

January 2011

  • January 3, 2011 Scott Walker is sworn in as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin. [2]

February 2011

  • February 11, 2011 WALKER "DROPS THE BOMB" On Friday morning, Gov. Scott Walker introduces his collective bargaining bill which he calls the "budget repair bill." with plans to extract benefit concessions and eliminate collective bargaining for most public employees. [3] He would later describe this as "dropping the bomb" in a conversation with a blogger from the Buffalo Beast pretending to be billionaire David Koch, a Walker campaign contributor. [4] Because the bill is a fiscal budget bill, there must be a full quorum in the Senate and Assembly for the bill to pass.
  • February 12, 2011 FIRST PROTEST. The first small protest against the bill was organized on campus.[5]
  • February 13, 2011 FIRST PICKET. A small band of Madison east-siders picketed the governor's mansion. [6]
  • February 14, 2011 AFTERNOON AND EVENING RALLIES BEGIN. On Monday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) secured permits and organized afternoon and evening rallies at the capitol building. This pattern would continue for weeks to come, an estimated 2,000 people participating on the first day. The Teaching Assistants’ Association of UW-Madison (TAA) and supporters delivered “Valentine: messages to Gov. Walker that read “We (heart) UW. Don’t Break My (heart)” [7]
  • February 15, 2011 THE OCCUPATION BEGINS. Protesters attend afternoon and evening rallies at the capitol and the occupation of the capitol building begins. State officials estimate the crowd at 10,000 outside, 3,000 inside, starting the mass protests seen in the coming weeks. [8] Assembly Democrats begin hearings on the budget repair bill, requiring the capitol building to be open to the public under the Wisconsin Constitution. Protesters begin to occupy the capitol building. They would occupy the building for 17 nights and 18 days. Firefighters and police joined the rally for the first time. They were accompanied by the sound of thousands of cheering voices as they entered the Capitol building. [9]
  • February 16, 2011 TEACHERS WALK OUT. The budget repair bill passes out of committee and heads to the Senate and another estimated 20,000 protesters attend the daily rallies. Madison schools are also closed as more than half of teachers call in sick, thousands of parents and students of all ages join their teachers at rallies at the state capitol. [10] MSNBC’s Ed Schultz kicked off media coverage of the Wisconsin protests by spending his show's hour focusing on the unprecedented people power being demonstrated in Wisconsin. Schultz said that this is a fight for the "soul of America." [11] [12]
WalkersWalker.JPG
  • February 17, 2011 WI 14 LEAVE STATE. All 14 Senate Democrats flee across the state line to Illinois as efforts to amend the budget repair bill fail. Assembly Republicans also convene a floor session before the scheduled start time, preventing Democrats from introducing amendments. [13] Seven people are arrested in teh Senate Gallery, two others arrested that day. [14] Assembly Democrats began a continuous hearing to listen to public testimony. This would last for weeks. [15] People set-up blankets and sleeping bags at the state Capitol for an all-night vigil as testimony continued. [16]
  • February 18, 2011 CONCESSIONS OFFERED. Leaders from AFSCME and the WEAC announced their willingness to accept the financial concessions called for in Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, but said they would not accept the loss of collective bargaining rights. [17] An estimated 40,000 people attend Capitol Square rallies. Speakers include AFL-CIO national president Richard L. Trumka and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. [18] Governor Scott Walker was booed at the Madison, WI restaurant The Merchant. One of the owners politely asked Walker to leave. A bartender said "his presence was causing a disturbance to the other customers and management asked him to leave." [19]
  • February 19, 2011 Police estimate a crowd of 68,000 people attended the Saturday rally at capitol. Madison police commend all attendees for a peaceful gathering. [20]
  • February 21, 2011 Tom Morello, former Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist, joined other musicians first on the capitol steps then at a “Rally for Wisconsin Workers,” at the Monona Terrace. “The future of rights of working people in this country will be decided on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin,” said Morello. [21] Mahlon Mitchell, head of the Madison Firefighters, announced that Madison firefighters would be sleeping over in the capitol. [22] Morello later cuts the track "Union Town" to financially aid Wisconsin unions. [23] [24]
  • February 23, 2011 KOCH CALL. A prank phone call was made to Gov. Scott Walker from editor of The Buffalo Beast, Ian Murphy who pretended to be David Koch, a prime funder of Walker’s campaign. [25]
  • February 24, 2011 Republicans and Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly agreed to a deal shortly before dawn on Thursday morning that sets the stage for a vote the bill.[26]
  • February 25, 2011 Wisconsin Assembly Republicans pass Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill in 17 seconds, at 1 a.m. Many legislators on both sides of the isle miss the vote, due to the lack of notice. Other shout "shame, shame, shame" as the measure passes 51-17.[27] This followed a record 62 hours of debate over Gov. Walker’s changes to the bill on the floor. [28] Police officers handed out fliers saying they planed to restrict access to the Capitol as protesters geared up for another round of weekend demonstration over the state budget battle. [29] The head of The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the state’s largest police union issued a statement urging Gov. Walker to keep the Capitol open. Police Union official urges officers to sleep over in the capitol. [30]
  • February 26, 2011 Another nationally televised protest, CNN estimates 100,000-125,000 people descended on the capitol grounds. [31]
  • February 27, 2011 The capitol building was scheduled to be cleared of protesters. A religious delegation arrived to witness. No forcible eviction took place. In an interview with Meet the Press Gov. Walker said he did not believe the unions were sincere in offering the pension and health care concessions. [32]
  • February 28, 2011 A broadcast of Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News shows footage of angry union protesters in a news story about Wisconsin. Palm trees can be easily identified in the background. Palm trees become an enduring symbol of the WI protests and false media spin about the massive yet peaceful protests. [33]

March 2011

  • March 1, 2011 Gov. Scott Walker introduces massive biennial budget bill and announced plans to cut $1.5 billion from public schools and local government. [34] Dane County Judge Moeser issues temporary restraining order to open capitol. Under administration orders, police block all citizens without appointments from entering the state capitol. [35] Dane County Sheriff removes his deputies from the capitol doors and refuses to be "the palace guard." [36]
  • March 2, 2011 The Republican majority in the State Senate passed a resolution finding the AWOL Democrats guilty of contempt and disorderly conduct if they didn't make it back to Wisconsin by 4 p.m. [37] The Wisconsin Democratic Party filed papers to recall the “Republican 8” Wisconsin Senators in an attempt to flip control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat. [38]
  • March 3, 2011 OCCUPATION OF THE CAPITOL ENDS. Dane County Judge Moeser rules public access to the capitol must be restored for all citizens during working hours with some restrictions. Court order in hand, the last remaining protesters decide to leave the capitol. However, administration refused to ease certain restrictions, such as metal detectors. [39] [40]
Taxrichnotteachers.JPG

*March 4, 2011 Gov. Scott Walker threatened to send out 1,500 layoff notices to state employees if the budget repair bill did not pass. [41]

  • March 5, 2011 Michael Moore spoke at a Wisconsin Labor Rally. “Your message has inspired people in all 50 states, and that message is: 'We have had it,” said Moore. [42]
  • March 7, 2011 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rejected the offer of the meeting with Democratic senators who had fled the state, a move that extended the political standoff. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Scott Walker for statements made during a recorded prank phone call. [43]
  • March 9, 2011 SENATE VOTE. The Republican-led Wisconsin Senate shortcut the open meetings process and quickly call a committee meeting and Senate vote on a new version of the bill that allegedly strips the fiscal issues yet keeps the collective bargaining provisions. With less than 2 hours notice as required by law, thousands notified by Twitter and Facebook descend upon the capitol and are blocked. They shout “shame, shame, shame” under Senate Parlor windows. In the Senate Parlour Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca, tells the conference committee, they are meeting in violation of the state's open meetings law. Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald calls the roll and the bill passes out of committee. With Senate Democrats still out of state, the bill passes 18-1 on the Senate floor with no debate. Republican Senator Dale Shultz votes no. Some protesters manage to get into the capitol building, and sleep there that night, occupying the Assembly antechamber in an effort to prevent an Assembly vote the next morning.[44]
  • March 10, 2011 FINAL ASSEMBLY VOTE. After the capitol is locked down and protesters are carried away from the Assembly chambers the Wisconsin Assembly passed the collective bargaining bill now called AB10 with a vote of 53-42. Gov. Walker defended his bill in the opinion section of The Wall Street Journal in the article “Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin.” Firefighters marched in parade led by bagpipes. [45]
  • March 11, 2011 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law. It is now 2011 Act 10. He rescinded layoff notices for 1,500 public workers. [46]
  • March 12, 2011 WI 14 RETURN TO STATE. The 14 senators who had left the state returned [47] and were greeted by upwards of 150,000 people. Wisconsin farmers showed their support by driving dozens of tractors around the capitol and printing “Milk Not Koch” signs. Farmer Tony Shultz tells the crowd why famers are joining with workers. Hundreds of protesters in the crowd collect names on clipboards. They eventually collect over 200,000 and form organization United Wisconsin – to unofficially begin the Gov. Walker recall process. [48]
  • March 15, 2011 University of Wisconsin-Madison professor William Cronon publishes a piece on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its influence in Wisconsin legislation, “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here).” The Wisconsin GOP files an open records request for all of Cronon's emails referencing a long list of key words in a failed effort to link him to partisan political activity.
  • March 21, 2011 University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, William Cronon publishes, “Wisconsin’s Radical Break,”in the New York Times where he recounts the history of labor unions and writes, “many of the innovations on behalf of working people were at least as much the work of Republicans as of Democrats.” [49]

April 2011

  • April 5, 2011 The 2nd closest Supreme Court race in Wisconsin history takes place between JoAnne Kloppenburg and conservative incumbent David Prosser. The race was seen as a surrogate for the collective bargaining fight. Unofficial results put Kloppenburg ahead by 204, making a recount likely. [50]
  • April 6, 2011 Kathy Nicholas, the Waukesha County clerk, formerly a partisan Republican, declares she discovered an extra 7,500 votes for Prosser, sparking an uproar. [51]

May 2011

  • May 19, 2011 AB-7, the ALEC-inspired, Voter ID Law, passes in Wisconsin. [52]
  • May 20, 2011 David Prosser officially wins the recount in the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race with a lead of 7,006 votes. Kloppenburg considers challenging the results in court. [53]
  • May 25, 2011 AB-7, the Voter ID Law, is signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Supporters say the bill is intended to limit voter fraud. Opponents argue that the bill will disenfranchise thousands of potential voters. [54]
  • May 26, 2011 Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that Republicans violated the open meetings law when they passed the budget repair bill, thereby voiding Act 10. [55]
  • May 31, 2011 JoAnne Kloppenburg concedes election to incumbent David Prosser, and said she would not challenge his victory in court. [56]

June 2011

Tractorcade Approaches Capitol.JPG

*June 2, 2011 Around 100 tents were set up around the capitol building to create a tent city called “Walkerville.” Organizers were granted a permit to stay until June 20. [57]

  • June 13, 2011 A physical confrontation between Supreme Court Justice David Prosser and Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley occurred in the office of Justice Bradley over Gov. Walker’s budget repair bill. [58]. The decision overturn's Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi's ruling that Republicans violated the open meetings law when they passed the bill. At issue was whether Republicans gave proper notice of this State Senate committee meeting in early march as they pushed the bill to passage. [59]
  • June 25, 2011 Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley publicly acknowledges that fellow Justice David Prosser put her in a choke hold during a dispute in her office over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill on June 13th. [60]
  • June 26, 2011 Gov. Scott Walker signed a two-year $66 billion budget bill that cuts nearly $800 million from K-12 schools, contains drastic cuts to universities and technical colleges, Medicaid and Badger Care, and city and county local aids. [61]
  • June 29, 2011 Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney handed the investigation of allegations of a physical alteration between David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley’s over to his Chief Deputy after questions were raised about Mahoney's objectivity because he endorsed Prosser's opponent in the recent election. [62]

July 2011

JOBS20G11.jpg
  • July 1, 2011 AUSTERITY BUDGET TAKES EFFECT. Gov. Scott Walker's austerity budget takes effect. After 6 months of slow job growth, July marks a turning point leading to 6 months of job loss in Wisconsin as seen in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel graph.
  • July 8, 2011 We Are Wisconsin's political action committee raised more than $4 million for recall efforts, with most of the large contributions coming from labor unions, according to campaign finance documents. [63]
  • July 13, 2011 ALEC EXPOSED. The Center for Media and Democracy unveils a trove of over 800 "model" bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These bills reveal the corporate collaboration reshaping our democracy, state by state. They published a list of known ALEC legislative members, ALEC corporations and an article about ALEC bills in Wisconsin. [64] [65]
  • July 19, 2011 Dave Hansen (D-Greenbay) won the recall election against challenger David VanderLeest. [66]

August 2011

  • August 9, 2011 The Wisconsin recall elections for six Republican state senators were held. Four Republican senators retained their seats while two were defeated. Republicans maintained their majority in the Wisconsin Senate by only one vote, making moderate Republican Dale Shultz (who voted against collective bargaining bill) in a tie-breaking position. [67]
  • August 16, 2011 Two Democratic incumbents (Welch, Holperin) easily prevail in their own recall races. [68]
  • August 25, 2011 A special prosecutor determined that neither Supreme Court Justice David Prosser nor Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley would face charges related to the June choking incident. [69] 13 protestors were arrested after refusing to leave the capitol at the designated 6 p.m. closing time. [70]

October 2011

  • October 20, 2011 The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court. They argue that the Voter ID law violates the provision in the Wisconsin Constitution that determines who can vote. [71]
  • October 28, 2011 A Republican-backed bill begins circulating for co-sponsors in the Legislature that would implement new legislative boundaries that favor the GOP, making it more difficult for Democrats pursuing recalls of incumbents. [72]
  • October 31, 2011 Republican Sen. Dale Schultz told the Associated Press that he “does not support the [redistricting] measure and will not vote for it.” [73]

November 2011

  • November 1, 2011 Committee delays vote on the bill after news of Republican Dale Schult’s decision not to support it because, “voters who elected [Walker] should have a say on whether he is recalled.” [74]
  • November 2, 2011 Wisconsin Republicans cancel vote on bill to change redistricting lines due to Shultz opposition. [75]
  • November 15, 2011 The campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker officially began. 540,000 signatures needed to by January 17 to trigger a recall election in 60 days. [76]
  • November 17, 2011 United Wisconsin reported that more than 50,000 signatures had been collected to recall Gov. Scott Walker in the first 3 days. [77] 30,000 marched on the Wisconsin capitol for a rally commemorating the first weekend of the effort to recall Gov. Walker. [78]
  • November 28, 2011 United Wisconsin announced 300,000 signatures were collected in the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. [79]

December 2011

  • December 1, 2011 Under the direction of Gov. Scott Walker, the Department of Administration updated the Wisconsin State Facilities Access Policy, which states that all activity in the state Capitol requires a permit that can only be obtained 72 hours in advance. [80]

January 2012

  • January 3, 2012 Wisconsin law made Walker eligible for a recall, having served a full year in office.[81]
  • January 17, 2012 Organizers of the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker filed over 1 million signatures with the Government Accountability Board (GAB). An additional 845,000 signatures were filed to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a sufficient number to recall for Republican Sens. Pam Galloway of Wausau, Van Wanggaard of Racine and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls. Earlier in the day, the group working to recall Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, filed 20,600 signatures. [82]

February 2012

  • February 16, 2012 Scott Walker's campaign asked Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess to give the campaign two extra weeks to review recall petitions, claiming that the campaign did not have enough time to go over the roughly 1 million petitions submitted.[83]
  • February 20, 2012 David Koch told the Palm Beach Post that he was going to help Walker get reelected: "We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," said Koch, "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."[84] David Koch's Americans for Prosperity 501(c )(3) "charitable" arm worked with the right-wing MacIver Institute to produce a multi-million dollar "issue-ad" campaign called "It's Working!" The online, television and direct mail campaign touts the benefits of the Walker austerity budget, which sent unemployment in the state off a cliff.[85] Sources say the groups have spent $2.9 million on TV ads to date and untold sums on staff, rallies, direct mail and internet ad campaigns.

May 2012

MilkNotKoch.JPG

*May 2, 2012 Walker, who had spent $20,854,000 by this point in the recall, became the single biggest spender in Wisconsin's election history. [86] As of April 23, 2012, when campaign finance reports were due to the Government Accountability Board, Walker had raised $25.3 million, 57% of which was from out of state. Barrett had raised $993,845, 48% of which was from out of state..[87]

  • May 8, 2012 Wisconsin voters chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run against incumbent Walker in the primary for the first gubernatorial recall election in the state's history on May 8, 2012. Barrett got 58% of the vote. He was trailed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk at 34%, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout at 4%, and Secretary of State Doug Lafollette at 3%. Wisconsin State Firefighters President, Mahlon Mitchell, easily bested two lesser-known candidates for the right to run in the recall against Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Walker faced a symbolic challenge from self-described (and attired) "Lincoln" Republican Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who received 3% of the vote in the Republican primary. Active campaigning by Walker and full mobilization by right-wing talk radio pumped up voter turnout in the Republican primary to unexpected levels.[88] Along with the recall primaries for Governor and Lt. Governor, there were primaries for the four recalled State Senate seats. Each of the Democrats who were running to challenge the recalled Republican Senators faced challenges by "fake" Democrats, whose campaigns were funded by the Republican Party. None of the "fake" Democrats won their primaries, but some got as much as 36% of the vote. Wisconsin has open primaries, where anyone can choose which primary to vote in. There was a concerted effort by right-wing talk radio and other organizations to get Republicans to go out and vote for the "fake" democrats, hoping to prevent the true Democrats from making it to the general election.[89]

June 2012

  • June 6, 2012 Scott Walker retained his seat as Wisconsin's governor, winning 53-46 over challenger Tom Barrett.[90] After an astonishing $63.5 million spent in the recall, mostly on attack ads that ran on a constant loop throughout the state, the recall was deemed the most expensive election in Wisconsin's history thanks to outside funding, which made up nearly two-thirds of Walker's $30.5 million dollar war chest.[91]

Wisconsin Protests Daily Live Reporting from CMD

Beginning on February 14, 2011 the Center for Media and Democracy reporters provided live coverage of the historic protests in Madison, Wisconsin and related legal and political battles. The coverage focuses on the corporations and spinmeisters pulling the strings. The Center for Media and Democracy ended their daily live coverage on July 13, 2011. [92]

References

  1. Scott Walker Wins 2010 Wisconsin Governors Race over Tom Barrett, Fox 11, November 2, 2011
  2. Lacey Crisp, Governor Walker sworn into office one year ago Tuesday, Today’s TMJ4, January 3, 2011
  3. Governor Walker Introduces Budget Repair, Office of the Governor Scott Walker, accessed December 7, 2011
  4. MrNijiboi, Buffalo Beast Impersonates David Koch Dupes Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in.flv, YouTube, February 21, 2011
  5. Teresa Macki, Students protest Gov. Walker's budget repair bill, WKOW, February 12, 2011
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  9. Firefighters Join Labor Rally-Madison 2-16-11, Youtube, February 16, 2011
  10. David Dayen In Wisconsin, Budget Repair Bill Passes Committee; Mass Teacher Walkouts Planned, FireDogLake, February 17, 2011
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  29. Ben Jones Police: No more sleeping bags in the Wis Capitol, USA Today, February 25, 2011
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  37. Christopher Weber Wisconsin Republicans Order Arrest of 14 Democrats Who Fled State, Politics Daily, March 3, 2011
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  61. Patrick Marley, Jason Stein Walker signs budget bill, vetoes just 50 items, JS Online, June 26, 2011
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  72. Bill puts new legislative boundaries in effect, WEAU, October 28, 2011
  73. Committee Delays Vote on Bill Affecting Recalls NBC 15, November 1, 2011
  74. Committee Delays Vote on Bill Affecting Recalls NBC 15, November 1, 2011
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  79. Emily Osborne Walker Recall Garners 300,000 signatures in 12 days, November 28, 2011
  80. Jill Courtney DOA Updates Wis State Facilities Access Policy, WKOW, December 1, 2011
  81. "Scott Walker Raises $2.5 Million In First Half Of Year", NBC15, July 19, 2011.
  82. Clay Barbour, Mary Spicuzza, Organizers file more than 1 million signatures to recall Walker, Lacrosse Tribune, January 18, 2011
  83. Scott Bauer, "Governor Scott Walker seeks more time for review of recall signatures', Greenbay Press Gazette, February 16, 2012.
  84. Stacey Singer, "David Koch intends to cure cancer in his lifetime and remake American politics", The Palm Beach Post, February 20, 2012.
  85. Mary Bottari, "On Anniversary of Prank Call to Gov. Walker, the Real David Koch Wants to "Stop Union Power", Huffington Post, February 23, 2013.
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  88. Mary Bottari Rematch! Barrett to Face Walker in Historic Recall Election, PRWatch, May 9, 2012
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