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2011 United States public employee protests

2011 United States public employee protests

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In February 2011, a series of public employee protests began in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 against proposed legislation which would weaken the power of labor unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

. By March, eighteen states had proposed legislation which would remove some collective bargaining powers from unions, along with another five states which have proposed legislation which would negatively affect unions. The protests occurred when public employee unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 mounted protests against legislation proposed by Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 governors such as Scott Walker
Scott Walker (politician)
Scott Kevin Walker is an American Republican politician who began serving as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin on January 3, 2011, after defeating Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, 52 percent to 47 percent in the November 2010 general election...

 (Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

), Rick Scott (Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

), Mitch Daniels
Mitch Daniels
Mitchell Elias "Mitch" Daniels, Jr. is the 49th and current Governor of the U.S. state of Indiana. A Republican, he began his first four-year term as governor on January 10, 2005, and was elected to his second term by an 18-point margin on November 4, 2008. Previously, he was the Director of the...

 (Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

), Sean Parnell
Sean Parnell
Sean R. Parnell is an American Republican politician who is the tenth and current Governor of Alaska. He succeeded Sarah Palin following her resignation, and was sworn in at the Governor's Picnic in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009...

 (Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), Rick Snyder (Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

), John Kasich
John Kasich
John Richard Kasich is the 69th and current Governor of Ohio. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing from 1983 to 2001...

 (Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

), Paul LePage
Paul LePage
Paul Richard LePage is an American businessman and politician who is serving as the 74th and current Governor of Maine. A Republican, he was previously mayor of Waterville from 2003 to 2011, and was a city councilor before that...

 (Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

) and Jan Brewer
Jan Brewer
Janice Kay "Jan" Brewer is the 22nd and current Governor of the U.S. state of Arizona and a member of the Republican Party. She is the fourth woman, and third consecutive woman, to hold the office...

 (Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

) which, among other things, would strip public employees of some collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 rights as well as require higher employee contributions to pension and health care plans. The governors had stated they needed these changes in order to cut state spending and balance the states' budgets. The protests began in Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, then spread to Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 and Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, with unions around the country rallying to show their opposition to the proposed legislation. Several other states are considering similar legislation. Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 already prohibit formal
collective bargaining with public employees.

image:Map of collective bargaining legislation.svg|thumb|600px|Clickable map of proposed legislation which reduces collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 or reduces union rights.

poly 152 457 153 540 177 548 205 576 205 589 183 588 158 553 117 547 100 567 12 578 66 547 41 517 52 469 72 449 107 437 #Alaska
poly 132 396 190 434 229 441 245 325 161 309 157 326 148 326 140 347 151 364 #Arizona
poly 27 164 91 181 73 243 140 339 138 346 149 363 134 394 91 389 41 334 13 194 #California
poly 257 235 369 248 364 331 247 320 #Colorado
poly 731 453 776 545 757 583 739 584 714 520 688 472 663 485 624 471 624 460 666 454 666 460 #Florida
poly 169 48 154 107 161 116 145 140 137 190 226 206 236 157 206 154 200 127 189 131 192 105 175 72 182 50 #Idaho
poly 603 229 602 312 631 305 650 284 644 222 #Indiana
poly 461 197 454 215 469 258 535 258 544 244 553 225 540 198 #Iowa
poly 368 268 361 333 488 336 488 291 481 285 484 277 471 269 #Kansas
poly 836 111 850 149 854 157 897 106 887 89 872 60 849 56 #Maine
poly 816 170 817 186 849 180 857 187 878 189 878 171 854 160 #Massachusetts
poly 544 114 555 131 596 149 613 224 664 219 674 191 647 128 581 85 #Michigan
poly 470 259 471 269 486 288 488 345 566 344 561 353 571 353 582 334 559 305 562 294 536 261 #Missouri
poly 340 203 337 244 368 247 368 265 475 269 460 217 426 208 #Nebraska
poly 829 114 825 168 852 160 835 109 #New Hampshire
poly 92 182 180 200 156 324 146 323 141 342 73 244 #Nevada
poly 245 320 347 330 337 436 245 431 242 443 226 439 #New Mexico
poly 801 207 799 225 806 231 797 240 809 254 823 224 815 218 815 211 #New Jersey
poly 653 281 679 285 686 292 714 243 710 213 675 224 663 220 645 223 649 275 #Ohio
poly 347 331 488 337 494 407 430 397 397 388 397 347 345 345 #Oklahoma
poly 569 374 667 366 705 327 575 344 #Tennessee
poly 57 76 73 85 73 95 111 102 158 109 168 49 88 25 60 34 #Washington
poly 522 129 520 140 513 146 513 169 538 184 539 210 549 216 592 210 600 156 593 153 585 143 548 126 538 120 #Wisconsin
rect 867 244 950 269 #New Jersey
rect 680 88 774 113 #Massachusetts
desc bottom-right

Proposed Legislation


Representative Carl Gatto
Carl Gatto
Carl Gatto is a Republican member of the Alaska House of Representatives, representing the 13th District since 2002. He is currently serving as Chair of the Military & Veterans' Affairs Special Committee, and is a member of the Judiciary Committee, State Affairs Committee, Administrative Regulation...

 (R-Palmer), has introduced legislation that would strip many public employees of the right to collectively bargain for hours, benefits and working conditions. State employees could still collectively bargain for wages under the legislation. The bill exempts firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians.

Arizona



More info

Proposed Legislation


Republicans in the Senate and Assembly have proposed measures that would limit collective-bargaining rights and increase pension contributions for state employees. Democrats in control of the Legislature kept collective bargaining safe, but Governor Jerry Brown (D) unveiled a plan in March to target excesses in pensions.

Protests


Los Angeles county police estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 people took part in a protest against pay cuts to state workers on March 26.

Colorado



More info

Proposed Legislation


Republican Governor Rick Scott’s budget proposal calls for a heavy hit to union strength, but, due to a constitutional provision, the state is not allowed to strip collective-bargaining rights unless a union’s membership falls below a certain level. Lawmakers are instead preparing to place a cap on the amount unions can automatically extract from members’ paychecks without written permission. One of the bills passed the House in late March and awaits Senate approval. Republicans control both chambers, so passage is likely.

Protests


Protests have yet to escalate in Florida. A small group of union employees, nearing 100, marched in Palm Beach to show solidarity with Wisconsin workers on April 4, in honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

Hawaii



More info

Proposed Legislation


A bill restricting the collective bargaining rights’ of Idaho’s unionized teachers passed the legislature on March 7 and was signed into effect by Republican Gov. Butch Otter. The bill, which first passed in the House in February, will keep 12,000 teachers from bargaining their salary and benefits. It also eliminated tenure and introduced merit-based pay. The legislature adjourned for April 7, ending what lawmakers have called one of the most difficult sessions in memory.

Protests


Union members planned to protest outside the Capitol in Boise on March 9 to condemn the passage of the bill. A rally in Boise on February 21, before the House vote, drew about 1,000 protesters and smaller pro-teacher’s union rallies were held in 10 other cities.

Proposed legislation


Republican House members proposed a “right-to-work” bill that would have made it illegal for an employer to mandate that employees join a union. Lacking support from Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, the bill has died.

Protests


Most of the Democratic representatives in Indiana's
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 state House of Representatives fled to neighboring states to block voting on bill. On March 10 thousands of protesters appeared at the Indiana state house, protesting in support of labor unions.

Proposed Legislation


House Republicans proposed a bill that required state workers to pay a portion of their insurance premiums and allowed workers to opt-out of union membership. Though the Republican-controlled House pushed a labor reform to weaken unions, the Democrat-controlled Senate has not taken it up for debate.

Protests


Roughly 300 people came to show their support for workers on April 4, marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

Proposed legislation


The Kansas House passed a Republican-backed bill on February 24 that would ban voluntary deductions from union members’ paychecks for political activities. The bill also bans public employee unions from endorsing political candidates. The bill has a good chance of passing the heavily-Republican Senate. Republican Governor Sam Brownback has not communicated his stance on the bill.

Protests


Kansas union members filled the hall of the House on February 24 in an unsuccessful attempt to urge lawmakers to oppose the bill.

Proposed legislation


On February 28 it was reported that newly elected Governor Paul LePage
Paul LePage
Paul Richard LePage is an American businessman and politician who is serving as the 74th and current Governor of Maine. A Republican, he was previously mayor of Waterville from 2003 to 2011, and was a city councilor before that...

, in an interview at the National Governors Association, praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is trying to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees, and expressed support for right-to-work legislation proposals in the Maine Legislature. The 'right-to-work' bill would make it illegal for public employees to be required to join a union, and eliminate collective bargaining for public employees. LePage openly challenged public workers saying Wisconsin-style protests will start coming to Maine "once [public employees] start reading the budget bill."

Protests


Several protests were planned by the Maine State Employees Union, with a member saying that LePage is trying to "drive public employees to poverty." MSEU bussed public employees out to the capital of Augusta
Augusta, Maine
Augusta is the capital of the US state of Maine, county seat of Kennebec County, and center of population for Maine. The city's population was 19,136 at the 2010 census, making it the third-smallest state capital after Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota...

 to protest, and several high schools and colleges held walkouts in protest of the legislation. Reports said the numbers of protesters in Augusta numbered in the hundreds, while the exact number of high school and college walkouts are unknown. In February, state Rep. Diane Russel traveled to Wisconsin to join in the protests going on in Madison saying, "This war isn't about the unions: it's a class war; this affects every worker and every member of the Middle Class -- what's left of it."

On March 24, Governor LePage sparked protests when he announced that he planned to remove a large mural depicting the history of the state's labor movement from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor offices. LePage said that he had received a written complaint signed by a "secret admirer", and "some complaints" from business owners. The mural includes depictions of Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military...

 at Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works is a major American shipyard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, United States. Since its founding in 1884 , BIW has built private, commercial and military vessels, most of which have been ordered by the United States Navy...

, a 1937 shoe worker’s strike, and the 1986 SD Warren paper mill strike. The artist, Judy Taylor, stated, “There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor, it was a pure depiction of the facts.” LePage also announced that he plans to rename conference rooms that have carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, including former Secretary Frances Perkins
Frances Perkins
Frances Perkins , born Fannie Coralie Perkins, was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition...

, the first female cabinet member in American history (Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor) who had strong Maine roots. The Governor's spokesman explained that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals.

Despite protests, on March 28 it was disclosed that the murals had been removed over the weekend. In a statement LePage's press secretary said, "The mural has been removed and is in storage awaiting relocation to a more appropriate venue." Some Maine residents are protesting the removal. On April 2, the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, who granted US$60,000 to the State of Maine to have the mural painted and installed, asked LePage to return the $60,000 or put the mural back up.

Protesters, numbering at about 350 people, have maintained a presence in the capitol, even after LePage left for a vacation in Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

. Some protesters held signs comparing LePage to dictators such as Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

, Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak is a former Egyptian politician and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011....

 and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. Others wore stickers and t-shirts with 61% written on them, referencing that 61% of voters had voted for someone other than LePage in the 2010 Maine gubernatorial election
Maine gubernatorial election, 2010
The 2010 Maine gubernatorial election took place on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Democratic Governor John Baldacci was term-limited and unable to seek re-election. Primary elections took place on June 8, 2010...

.

Proposed Legislation


Democrat Governor Deval Patrick's agenda included proposals to restrict the collective bargaining power of municipal unions over health care plan design and to increase the retirement age in order to reduce the unfunded liability in the pension system. Restrictions to collective-bargaining rights were seen as unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Although Patrick supported limited restrictions on some aspects of health care plans for municipal employees, he has spoken against broader proposals against overall collective bargaining rights. On April 27, the Democrat
Massachusetts Democratic Party
The Massachusetts Democratic Party is the state affiliate of the United States Democratic Party in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state party chairman is John E...

-controlled Massachusetts House of Representatives
Massachusetts House of Representatives
The Massachusetts House of Representatives is the lower house of the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is composed of 160 members elected from single-member electoral districts across the Commonwealth. Representatives serve two-year terms...

 voted overwhelmingly in favor with a vote of 111-42 to change collective bargaining rights of municipal employee unions with regards to health care.

The legislation, which ultimately passed, created a process for municipalities to force their unions to the bargaining table regarding health care plan design or be moved into the state Group Insurance Commission pool, which has significantly more bargaining power and leeway in plan design than municipal plans (and thus much lower costs). State employees were unaffected as they already used the GIC, and municipal employees retain the right to collectively bargain premium contributions to their plans, GIC or otherwise. However, the legislation ran contrary to the national trend in which the Democratic Party at the federal and state level were opposing all measures to change collective bargaining rights.

Protests


Pro-union protesters gathered at Beacon Hill in Boston on February 22. The counter rally, held by tea partiers, took place at the foot of the Statehouse. Smaller groups, maximum 300, have gathered around the state following the February protest.

Proposed Legislation


Democrats in the Republican-dominated legislature have proposed an amendment to guarantee collective bargaining rights to state workers. The amendment would need a public vote to become part of the constitution. The amendment is unlikely to get the two-thirds vote it would need to appear on the public ballot. Both chambers of the state legislature have passed bills that would give state-appointed Emergency Financial Managers the power to break contracts in the event of a municipal "financial emergency".

Protests


Michigan firefighters and other union members were at the Capitol in protest of anti-union legislation on March 8. Roughly 200 gathered outside the capitol in Lansing on April 4.

Minnesota



More info

Proposed Legislation


Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Republican, said on February 24 that he plans to propose a “right-to-work” bill next week. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce has announced its support of the bill, and both chambers of the legislature are controlled by Republicans. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has yet to communicate his stance on the issue.

Protests


Wisconsin-style protests haven’t occurred, but Senate Presidrnt Rob Mayer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “I’m aware that [protests] could take place and happen, but it will in no way keep me from moving forward with trying to implement the law.”

Montana



More info

Proposed Legislation


A proposed bill and constitutional amendment introduced by State Senator John Nelson (Republican) called for abolishing collective bargaining and the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations. The state commission resolves impasses in wage and benefit negotiations for public workers. Other bills call for changes in the commission's powers, including removing teachers unions from its jurisdiction. Governor Dave Heineman (Republican), says he favors “meaningful and significant” changes.

Proposed Legislation


Republican lawmakers and former Republican Governor Jim Gibbons drafted a bill in 2010 to end collective bargaining. In February, newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval asked legislators to ignore his predecessor’s collective-bargaining plan. Sandoval’s decision, combined with the obstacle of a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, makes such a measure highly unlikely to pass. Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said the Republican caucus would be flexible in order to avoid a Wisconsin-style showdown.

Protests


Nevada's public employees held rallies in Carson City on April 4 to protest the proposed “attacks” on their rights.

Proposed legislation


A bill passed by the New Hampshire House would forbid collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a union.

An amendment to the state budget bill, HB2, was proposed on March 22, 2011. The bill would effectively end collective bargaining in the state by de-certifying unions whose contracts expired. The amendment text is as follows
Rep Kurk, Hills. 7
March 22, 2011
2011-1148h
10/09

Draft Amendment to HB 2-FN-A-LOCAL

Impasse in Collective Bargaining. RSA 273·A: 12, VII 18 repealed and re-enacted to read as follows:

Vll. For any collective bargaining agreement entered into by the par ties after the effective date of this paragraph, if the impasse is not resolved at the time of the expiration of the parties' agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement shall cease and all employees subject to the agreement shall become at-will employees whose salaries, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment shall be at the discretion of the employer.


On March 30, the New Hampshire House of Representatives
New Hampshire House of Representatives
The New Hampshire House of Representatives is the lower house in the New Hampshire General Court. The House of Representatives consists of 400 members coming from 103 districts across the state, created from divisions of the state's counties. On average, each legislator represents about 3,300...

 passed a bill that ended nearly all collective bargaining rights for state workers. "There is no way" the measure will clear the Senate, said Carole Alfano, the Senate communications director. "It has absolutely zero support.". However, the New Hampshire Senate
New Hampshire Senate
The New Hampshire Senate has been meeting since 1784. It is the upper house of the New Hampshire General Court. It consists of 24 members representing Senate districts based on population...

 has a overwhelming Republican majority with 19 of the 24 members being Republicans. Democratic governor John Lynch opposes the bill.

Protests


On March 31, local religious leaders held a prayer and fasting vigil in the statehouse outside House Speaker Bill O'Brien's office. Meanwhile, thousands of concerned citizens held a rally outside to oppose the proposed budget and the attached amendment.

Proposed legislation


Republican Governor Chris Christie’s proposal for pension reform plans to dock more pay from state workers. He did not propose restricting collective bargaining because Democrats control the Legislature.

Protests


New Jersey union groups called for a solidarity rally for Wisconsin’s public workers outside the statehouse in Trenton on February 25. The state teachers union, police and firefighters, CWA and AFL-CIO planned to send protesters to a workers' rights rally at the Statehouse on June 16.

Proposed Legislation


A bill has been filed in committee that would limit the collective bargaining rights of workers.

North Carolina



More info

Proposed legislation


Republican Governor John Kasich supported a Senate bill (SB 5) that would eliminate collective bargaining for state-government employees. Senate Democrats’ attempt to kill the bill with a statewide referendum. They collected 1.3 million signatures against the bill and has been defeated as Issue 2 in this November's election ballot.

Protests


On the night of the bill’s signing, thousands of demonstrators protested outside the statehouse in Columbus.

Proposed legislation


Republican leadership proposed amendments to limit the strength of city employee unions. Most state employees in Oklahoma are not allowed to unionize. The bills would repeal collective bargaining rights and change how cities handle disputes with public safety unions. With Republicans dominating the state’s government, the bill has a good shot at passing. One bill in the state House by Representative Mark McCullough (R-Sapulpa), and approved by House Economic Development, Tourism and Financial Services Committee, proposed altering the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

Protests


On March, 9, 2011, hundreds of Oklahoma firefighters went to the state capitol to protest against proposed changes in their pension benefits. The president of the International Association of Firefighers said he was concerned about the "tone of the legislature", and that "public employees seem to be the scapegoat". Nearly 400 union workers rallied outside the capitol in Oklahoma City on April 4.

Pennsylvania



More info

Proposed legislation


Republican Governor Bill Haslam's budget did not call for collective-bargaining reforms, but a Senate bill threatened to take away those rights for teachers. The Senate bill, which once seemed likely to pass, has been met with sharp opposition from the public. On April 7, the bill was sent back to the education committee for revisions yet to be determined.

Protests


A rally organized by local MoveOn.org members as part of the nationwide day of action of Rallies to Save the American Dream was held on Saturday, February 26 on Legislative Plaza on the south side of the Tennessee State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol
The Tennessee State Capitol, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is the home of the Tennessee legislature, the location of the governor's office, and a National Historic Landmark. Designed by architect William Strickland, it is one of Nashville's most prominent examples of Greek Revival architecture...

. About 500 attended by organizer counts, but only 200 according to media accounts. The rally was both to stand with Wisconsin, and also to protest the proposed Tennessee legislation.

On March 5 nearly 3000 rallied on Legislative Plaza in a rally and march organized by the Tennessee Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association
National Education Association
The National Education Association is the largest professional organization and largest labor union in the United States, representing public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become...

. Teachers, union members, activists, and other supporters rallied against the proposed legislation. Dennis Van Roekel
Dennis Van Roekel
Dennis Van Roekel is President of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. As NEA president, he leads the largest labor union in the United States.-Background:...

, national President of NEA flew in from Arizona to speak to the crowd. A number of Democratic elected officials spoke and were in attendance. A protest of hundreds on March 15 came to a head when police physically dragged seven teachers out of the Senate committee hearing.

Virginia



More info

Proposed Legislation


There was a Republican-sponsored Senate bill that would restrict collective-bargaining rights for the state. The bill has little chance of passing because Democrats control the governor’s mansion and both legislative chambers.

Protests


Amendments to collective bargaining have not come to fruition; about 400 demonstrators protesting budget cuts to state programs gathered at the Capitol on April 6.

Proposed Legislation



Protests


Public-sector workers in West Virginia protested to demand better pay and working conditions. State employees are asking for the elimination of a 2005 pay freeze, a 3% cost-of-living adjustment, and seniority rights. Workers also want the state to fund the West Virginia Occupational and Safety Act, which was passed in 1987 to regulate workplace safety but has never been funded.

Wisconsin


Proposed legislation


Legislation proposed by Republican Governor of Wisconsin
Governor of Wisconsin
The Governor of Wisconsin is the highest executive authority in the government of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The position was first filled by Nelson Dewey on June 7, 1848, the year Wisconsin became a state...

 Scott Walker
Scott Walker (politician)
Scott Kevin Walker is an American Republican politician who began serving as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin on January 3, 2011, after defeating Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, 52 percent to 47 percent in the November 2010 general election...

 to address a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall has sparked protests in Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

. The legislation would require state employees to contribute 5.8% of their salaries to cover pension costs, contribute 12.6% towards their health care premiums, and would limit collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 rights for most public employee union members. Democrats and union leaders offered to accept the increased cost of benefits but not the removal of bargaining rights. Walker offered a compromise to allow bargaining on wages with no limit which was deemed inadequate to the unions and the Democratic leadership.

Protests


A crowd estimated to be up to 100,000 people turned out in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, February 26 to protest Governor Walker's bill. Solidarity demonstrations, and demonstrations against similar measures in other states, also took place around the country.

Some journalists and political commentators have compared the protests to the anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East
2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

, some in jest. Christian Science Monitor staff writer Stephen Kurczy dubbed the Wisconsin protests "The Cheddar Revolution". Many journalists and commentators also considered the Middle East and North African protests an inspiration for the U.S. public employee protests.

In all 50 US states of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, there have been rallies supporting the Wisconsin demonstrations.

Wisconsin Capitol building occupation


Protesters occupied the Wisconsin Capitol building to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed legislation restricting the collective bargaining rights of public employees and increase their share of benefits payments, and what they saw as anti-democratic behavior by the governor and legislature. On Friday, February 25, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs told reporters that demonstrators would have to leave the Wisconsin state Capitol building by 4 p.m. on the following Sunday. According to media estimates, tens of thousands participated in the protests, and hundreds occupied the building around the clock. Police restricted sleeping bags, coolers, and folding chairs, and that the Capitol would be closed "for public health reasons". The Capitol was scheduled to reopen the following on Monday at 8 a.m., but police said they would closely monitor the number of people in the building. Some protesters vowed to remain as an act of civil disobedience, and non-violent civil disobedience training took place. Although many protesters did leave on Sunday afternoon at the urging of union leaders and Democrats, hundreds defied the order and remained in the building. Police did not remove the remaining protesters. The Department of Administration did not reopen the building until Tuesday nor remove the added security, such as metal detectors, for several weeks, in defiance of a court order.

On Thursday, March 3, Dane County Circuit Court Judge John Albert ordered that the Capitol building be cleared of protesters at building's the 6 p.m. closing time, but also ruled that restricting access to the building during business hours was unconstitutional because it violated the public's free speech and peaceful assembly rights.

Death threats


Eighteen Republican state Senators received death threats after passing the bill.

On May 12, 2011, 100 pages of public records were released that detailed the emotions and threats that occurred during the protests. Dozens of emails suggest Walker or legislators should be shot, or hanged, or should watch their backs, look over their shoulders or resign. One man tweeted that he prayed an anvil would fall from the sky onto Walker. FBI agents from Maine to California to Florida also got involved, the records show. A suspect in Maine was arrested after sending letters to that state's Republican U.S. senators suggesting Walker should be killed and that all Republican governors resign. A Burbank, California
Burbank, California
Burbank is a city in Los Angeles County in Southern California, United States, north of downtown Los Angeles. The estimated population in 2010 was 103,340....

 resident who sent a long email offering a $50,000 bounty for Walker was interviewed by federal agents who determined he was mentally challenged and not a true threat. Police in Nebraska tracked down a man who posted to a Wisconsin man's Facebook page that he expected the shooting to start soon and that he would be ready to inflict nonlethal shots so others could hear screams. He told officers he got "carried away," didn't intend to harm anyone and has never been to Wisconsin. A Stevens Point
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Stevens Point is the county seat of Portage County, Wisconsin, United States. Located in the central part of the state, it is the largest city in the county, with a population of 24,551 at the 2000 census...

 man called the State Police after he heard his accountant, who he knew is married to a teacher, remark that if Walker didn't stop attacking teachers unions he'd be assassinated. An agent interviewed the accountant and determined there was no threat.

Legislative walkout


In another form of protest, and as a tactic to prevent passage of the bill, all 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate
Wisconsin State Senate
The Wisconsin Senate, the powers of which are modeled after those of the U.S. Senate, is the upper house of the Wisconsin State Legislature, smaller than the Wisconsin State Assembly...

 left the state of Wisconsin and traveled to Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 in order to delay a vote on the bill. With only 19 Republican members, the Senate would not have the 20 Senators required for a quorum in order to vote on the bill, since it is a fiscal bill. The provision that the protests center around — the restricting of
collective bargaining rights for state workers — could still be passed as a separate bill even in the absence of the Senate Democrats, because it had no fiscal component.

Recall elections


Groups began collecting signatures to try to recall eight Republicans and eight Democratic Senators. Of these attempts, six Republicans and three Democrats will face recall elections. Scholars could cite only three times in American history when more than one state legislator has been recalled at roughly the same time over the same issue. On August 9, two Republicans were recalled, while four won their bids to remain in office. On August 16, two Democrats will have their general recall elections.

State Supreme Court election


The Wisconsin Supreme Court
Wisconsin Supreme Court
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the state of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over original actions, appeals from lower courts, and regulation or administration of the practice of law in Wisconsin.-Location:...

 race between 12-year incumbent David Prosser, Jr.
David Prosser, Jr.
David T. Prosser Jr. is a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A former Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, Prosser was appointed to the court by Governor Tommy Thompson in 1998, and was elected to his first 10-year term without opposition in 2001...

 and challenger Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg
JoAnne Kloppenburg
JoAnne Kloppenburg is an Assistant Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, serving since 1989 under Republican and Democratic Governors. She ran for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in April 2011 against incumbent Justice David Prosser....

 was widely seen as a referendum on Governor Walker's proposed budget reforms in Wisconsin and received considerable national media coverage. Prosser was seen as the pro-Walker candidate and Kloppenberg was seen as the anti-Walker candidate. On April 15, Prosser was named the official winner by 7,316 votes after all county canvassing was completed. On April 20, Kloppenburg asked for a recount. On May 20, Prosser was declared the official winner.

See also

  • United States Protests
    Occupy Wall Street
    Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters which began September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district...

    • Occupy Ashland
      Occupy Ashland
      Occupy Ashland is a peaceful protest and demonstration against economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporations and lobbyists on government which has been taking place in Ashland, Oregon, United States since 6 October 2011. The protests began in solidarity with the Occupy Wall...

    • Occupy Atlanta
      Occupy Atlanta
      Occupy Atlanta is a protest and demonstration that began on October 6, 2011 in Woodruff Park, located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. It is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York City on September 17....

    • Occupy Austin
      Occupy Austin
      Occupy Austin is an occupation and peaceful protest that began on October 6, 2011 at City Hall in Austin, Texas. It is affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York City, and also with the "Occupy" protests in the United States and around the world...

    • Occupy Boston
      Occupy Boston
      Occupy Boston is a protest that began on September 30, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts, on Dewey Square in the Financial District opposite the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston...

    • Occupy Buffalo
      Occupy Buffalo
      Occupy Buffalo is a peaceful protest and demonstration that began on October 1, 2011, in Buffalo, New York, in Niagara Square, the nexus of downtown Buffalo opposite the Buffalo City Hall...

    • Occupy Chicago
      Occupy Chicago
      Occupy Chicago is a peaceful protest and demonstration against economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporations and lobbyists on government which has been taking place in Chicago since September 24th, 2011...

    • Occupy Portland
      Occupy Portland
      Occupy Portland is a protest and demonstration that began on October 6, 2011 in downtown Portland, Oregon. It is based on the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York City on September 17, 2011....

    • Occupy San Jose
      Occupy San Jose
      Occupy San José is a peaceful protest and demonstration in City Hall Plaza in San Jose, CA. The demonstration was inspired by Occupy Wall Street and is part of the larger "Occupy" protest movement....

    • Occupy Seattle
      Occupy Seattle
      Occupy Seattle is a direct action and demonstration currently based at Seattle Central Community College with additional activity at Westlake Park and Seattle City Hall in downtown Seattle, Washington. Occupy Seattle is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City in September,...

    • Other U.S. protest locations
  • 2011 Wisconsin protests
    2011 Wisconsin protests
    The 2011 Wisconsin protests were a series of demonstrations in the state of Wisconsin in the United States beginning in February involving at its zenith as many as 100,000 protestors opposing the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill. Subsequently, anti-tax activists and other conservatives, including tea...


External links