Wisconsin union activists are gathering at the Masonic Temple this morning and participating in training for lobbying efforts later today as they continue their fight back against anti-worker and anti-union efforts by the state's governor.
Hundreds of USW members are arriving via busses and cars from throughout District 2 to rally against Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to push legislation through the state Legislature that would strip thousands of public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
A rally on Tuesday drew over 15,000 activists - considered to be the largest labor rally in Wisconsin ever. Today's events are expected to reach about 20,000.
The response to the GOP-led efforts, including a marathon hearing Tuesday that was attended by hundreds of students, workers and other residents, has been historic.
"I have never seen anything like it before," said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt. At the hearing Tuesday, "Republicans were barely pretending to listen to the people who will be affected by this bill. Did they really think that they could take away workers' rights and dismantle the labor/management relationship that has served this state well for decades without getting an earful?"
Around 2:30 a.m., Joint Finance Committee Republicans abruptly concluded the hearing. Protesters refused to leave.
"Republican legislators walked out on working families. It is a perfect metaphor for this bill as a whole," said Neuenfeldt. "Government is supposed to listen to the citizens and care about the middle class. (Tuesday's) events prove that if we have to speak louder to make that happen, we will."