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Public sector unions in Wisconsin are faltering thanks to Governor Walker’s bold and courageous reforms, but the pro-union protestors are still making trouble in the great state.
In early 2011, Scott Walker took on the unions in order to rein in public sector spending and strengthen the state. By giving public sector workers the right to choose to be in a union, he has lessened their strangehold. Since he passed Act 10, union membership has declined in the state, in some unions, as much as 60 percent. The workers are feeling like they have an option, and they seem to be utilizing it.
Unfortunately, a small group of pro-union protestors are still causing a lot of trouble in the Wisconsin Capitol. Ever since the major protests started inside the building in February 2011, groups in size from 10 to 50 activists still gather regularly to protest Governor Walker. Recently, to combat some of the rude and disrespectful protestors, Governor Walker attempted to enforce a law that required all protestors (with a group of over four people) have a permit to protest. A federal judge struck that down, but now groups over 20 must obtain a permit to protest. The pro-union groups haven’t been too happy about that.
I went to the Capitol last week for two meetings and I witnessed the unfortunate necessity of this new law. At 10:30 AM, the Capitol was peaceful and quiet. Tourists were filtering in and out of the building without incident. By the time I walked out of my local representative’s office, I could hear protestors chanting, yelling, singing and protesting from the fourth floor. Close to 50 protestors were on the ground floor doing their best to derail productive work inside the building. Police were warning anyone on the ground or second floor that they were subject to arrest if need be.
The more I listened and watched, the more disgusted I became. Protestors were screaming, swearing, and harassing the police officers that were enforcing the new permit rule. Throughout the half hour I watched, four unlawful protestors were arrested.
I spoke with an officer for a few minutes about the situation. He seemed uneasy about the constant protesting. He told me he had received death threats for maintaining peace inside the Capitol. He also told me a group of children had come into the Capitol recently for a summer school program and were too scared to see the beautiful Wisconsin Capitol rotunda because of the protestors. He added that the protestors are just hurting themselves, something he’s been telling them for the past two years. Lastly, he explained how he believed the the rule completely abides by the Constitution because it isn’t restricting their speech. They only need a permit, which is readily available as you walk in. Many liberal newspapers have endorsed the permit rule as well.
As I walked away from the officer, two protestors walked up to me and started following me and questioning me. They asked “were you intimidated for arrest by the police?” I said “no, I was thanking them for doing their job.” They harassed me, told me I was a “bigot” and said I didn’t care about the middle class for almost five minutes until the police stopped them. Other families and tourists were also being questioned and asked to join the protests.
Protests such as this don't accomplish their supposed goal of reinstating union influence. They are hurting themselves, the unions and the Democratic Party more than they are helping. The rude, disrespectful and inappropriate behavior in front of/to innocent bystanders needs to stop. It has already cost our state millions and it is also tarnishing our image. The state may look beautiful outside the Capitol building, but it’s still a mess inside thanks to a small group of protestors.