I just happened to be inside the Capitol when Jesse Jackson showed up. It was a pretty amazing site to see him leading an overwhlemingly (but not exclusively) White crowd singing “We Shall Overcome” and reminding them that King supported workers’ rights.
It’s a huge crowd, a lovely day by our standards (sunny and in the 30s), high spirits all around. It’s like a giant party there, inside, outside, all around the town. The Democratic Senators are sequestered out of state somewhere; the Democratic Representatives are wearing orange T-shirts saying something like “Democratic Representatives in solidarity with labor.” The labor speaker who offered financial concessions straight up and said “this is not about money” was only half-heartedly cheered by the crowd, but everybody screamed in support when he yelled that it is about the right to organize and workers’ rights are human rights.
There’s actually a lot more in that bill than attacks on public unions, including devastating cuts in health services for low income people, but it is clear that the attack on collective bargaining and the idea of unions is what is pulling out the troops. A speaker at the rally said that the Michigan governor has said he won’t go after the unions.
House Reps are keeping testimony going in a rump session of the Joint Finance Committee after the Republican majority declared the hearing closed so they could get on with their vote. I’ve been a little puzzled about why the twitter feed keep exhorting people to sign up to testify in the middle of the night, but apparently this is because the Capitol is kept open if there is a public meeting gonig on.
Again there was a reference at the rally to protests elsewhere. I don’t have time to track them down, but a grad student who saw my previous post said this blog entry links to some of them: http://hiphopandpolitics.com/2011/02/18/class-warfare-in-wisconsin-10-things-you-should-know/
I don’t have a smart phone and don’t have a text plan (texts cost me 20 cents each) so I’m pretty much off the grid when I’m down at the protest. It’s hard to know what is going on without a smart phone now. I’m going to take my wifi-enabled planner back down there to see if I can manage to do anything with the TAA’s set-up.