University of Wisconsin-Madison student protesters, including shouting Teachers Assistant Association (TAA) members swarm outside the Wisconsin Capitol's Mifflin and State Street corner, their chanting growing more impassioned as the clock nears 1 p.m.
Governor Scott Walker's radical and controversial budget-repair bill would strip all UW System employees and many unionized workers of their collective bargaining rights for wages, hours and working conditions, to help patch an alleged $137 million state deficit.
But most in Wisconsin will tell you that Walker's budget-repair bill is not about fixing the deficit. It single-handedly seeks to bust unions across the state and punish those who did not support Walker's election campaign.
Cue mayhem across the state, with teachers, nurses, steelworkers and even cops and firefighters -- who would be exempt from the curtailing of their collective bargaining rights under Walker's bill -- descending upon Madison to storm the Capitol.
Watching the action are three business representatives from Milwaukee's Teamsters "General" Local Union No. 200, their navy hats proudly emblazoned with gold crests.
"We are a contracting and bargaining unit," handling truck drivers, police, manufacturing and other Milwaukee county municipality job contracts, explained Tom Millonzi.
"There's a large difference between bargaining and stripping people of their rights," said Jeff Bandur, noting that the protesting educators, ironworkers and manufacturers, among other working class Wisconsinites "are reasonable people who need to survive."
The Local 200 "General" Teamsters helps Milwaukee working class union members to do just that, and these three men have been in Madison since Tuesday, along with other Local 200 Teamsters from Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Sunday in Horicon, Wisconsin, the Local 200 Teamsters from Milwaukee joined with other Trade Unionists to march on State Speaker of the House Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald's (R) home. Fitzgerald continues to voice his support of Governor Walker's budget-repair bill despite a working-class revolt that has garnered national attention over the past three days.
"Our employees would be losing $5,000 a year from their salaries under this bill," Nelson said."Once you give up collective bargaining, you've got nothing. It only gets worse from there. Walker is trying to turn Wisconsin into a work-state."
As of press time, the state Democratic senators have been confirmed to be out-of-state, protesting the vote on the bill. At least 20 senators need to be present to hold quorum, and there are currently 19 Republican senators present for the vote.
Talking Points Memo Editor David Kurtz notes that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has ordered state police to track down the Democratic Senators, who is, in fact, Jeff Fitzgerald's brother. Their father? Steve Fitzgerald, head of the Wisconsin State Patrol.