Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose "Budget Repair Bill" has sparked union protests in Madison, Wisconsin
Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill began at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday, February 15.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4][5] 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.[6] State police were dispatched to retrieve the senators, but were unable to do so because of their inability to cross state lines.[7]


  • 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."[8]

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.[9]

 Wisconsin's 14 Democratic State Senators 

School closings

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.[10]

School districts that were unable to hold classes because of missing teachers included:

  • Barneveld
  • Beaver Dam
  • Columbus
  • Deforest
  • Dodgeville
  • Edgerton
  • Glendale-River Hills
  • Juda
  • Lodi
  • Madison East, Madison West, Madison Memorial
  • Marshall
  • 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.[11] This school district, the state's largest, serves 82,000 students.[12]
  • Mineral Point
  • Monona Grove
  • Mount Horeb
  • Oregon
  • Reedsburg
  • Riverdale
  • River Valley
  • Sauk Prairie
  • Stoughton
  • Sun Prairie
  • Verona
  • Watertown
  • Waunakee
  • Wisconsin Dells

Recall campaigns

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results
See also: Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)

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 Wisconsin State Senate included 14 Democrats and 19 Republicans as of the November 2, 2010 Wisconsin state senate election.

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.[13]

Crowd estimates

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[14]

External links