Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill
The protests began in advance of the approval of Assembly Bill 11, and escalated after it was approved by the Wisconsin State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee late on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Gov. Walker said AB 11 will help ease the state's $3.6 billion deficit. The bill attempts to chip away at the deficit by dealing with state finances, and limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.
The non-fiscal items of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11 were enacted by the Wisconsin State Assembly on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 3:42 p.m. on a 53-42 vote. The Wisconsin State Senate adopted the non-fiscal items on Wednesday, March 9 on an 18-1 vote. The bill was signed into law by Scott Walker on March 11.
Democratic senators flee state
In light of an almost certain Republican victory in the Wisconsin State Senate on Assembly Bill 11, all 14 Democratic senators fled the state of Wisconsin on Thursday, February 17, leaving the 19 Republicans one vote shy of a quorum. Ted Blazel, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, went looking for the missing legislators, but to no avail. Reports later confirmed the senators fled to a resort in Rockford, Illinois. State police were dispatched to retrieve the senators, but were unable to do so because of their inability to cross state lines.
- The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial board decried the flight of the Badger 14, saying, "Democrats in the state Senate threw a temper tantrum Thursday - essentially they took their ball and went home. Actually, they didn't go home. They apparently went to Illinois, just out of reach of their obligations...Both Senate Democrats and teachers should get over their snits and get back to work."
The 14 senators
The 14 state senators who left the state were described as the "Badger 14" - Tim Carpenter, Lena Taylor, Spencer Coggs, Chris Larson, Jim Holperin, Tim Cullen, Mark Miller, Robert Wirch, Julie Lassa, Robert Jauch, Fred Risser, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen and Kathleen Vinehout.
|Wisconsin's 14 Democratic State Senators|
On Wednesday, February 16, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state's largest union for teachers, called on all 98,000 of its members to attend protests in Madison on Thursday and Friday. This led to schools around the state having to close on those days.
School districts that were unable to hold classes because of missing teachers included:
- Beaver Dam
- Glendale-River Hills
- Madison East, Madison West, Madison Memorial
- Middleton-Cross Plains
- The Milwaukee Public Schools District closed the doors of all its 184 schools on Friday, February 18 after more than 600 of the district's 5,400 teachers called in sick. This school district, the state's largest, serves 82,000 students.
- Mineral Point
- Monona Grove
- Mount Horeb
- River Valley
- Sauk Prairie
- Sun Prairie
- Wisconsin Dells
|Other Recall Information|
Recall campaigns directed against a dozen Wisconsin state senators had been launched by early March in the wake of events surrounding the introduction of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11, the "Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill".
Democratic and Republican state senators were targeted by recall campaigns.
The laws governing recall in Wisconsin say that an elected official must have served at least one year of the term for which he or she was most recently elected before he or she can be targeted for recall. This meant that 8 Republican state senators (out of 19) were eligible for recall and 8 Democratic state senators (out of 14) were eligible for recall before the year elapsed.
|Day||Estimated crowd size|
|Outside capitol||Inside capitol|
|Tuesday, February 15||10,000||2,000|
|Wednesday, February 16|
|Thursday, February 17||20,000||5,000|
|Friday, February 18||35,000||5,000|
- Maciver Institute, "Field Trip!!!!!," February 15, 2011
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Committee passes Walker's budget bill; now moves to Senate ," February 17, 2011
- Wisconsin.gov, ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
- AB 11 by Committee Budget Repair Bill Concurrence CA 1 Offered by Committee
- The Wheeler Report, "Governor Walker Statement on Legislative Action," March 9, 2011
- Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
- Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
- Journal Sentinel, "The Dems' tantrum," February 17, 2011
- The Badger 14
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Madison schools, others closed amid call for demonstrations," February 17, 2011
- Media Trackers, "'Sick' Teachers Force Milwaukee Public Schools To Close," February 18, 2011
- Fox 6 Now, "Milwaukee Public Schools closed for Friday due to high number of absentee calls from teachers," February 18, 2011
- AOL News, "Wisconsin Election Recall Reality Check," February 23, 2011
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Opposing sides meet as Capitol protests enter sixth day," February 19, 2011