Wisconsin was still the focus of the American working class this weekend, but other labor relations debates are springing up across the United States, punctuated with pro-union rallies.
According to the AFL-CIO's blog, Indiana is one of the latest states to push in favor of pro-worker legislation following the events in Wisconsin. Over the last week, pro-union citizens from across Indiana have begun mobilizing against legislation that would limit collective bargaining, lower worker wages, and further limit the workers' power to unite.
The largest labor relations organization, AFL-CIO, said on its blog that 25,000 people showed up at the Indiana Statehouse, while the House Democratic Caucus walked out of the Statehouse last week. This act ultimately led to the defeat of three anti-union bills (HB 1468, SB333, and SB 273), which included limits on collective bargaining and project labor agreements.
Washington, D.C., also hosted a rally in favor of union rights. Workers and supporters from all 50 states showed up at the event on Saturday, some wearing Wisconsin’s red and black colors. Approximately 1,000 citizens met at Dupont Circle in Washington at around noon, with speakers rallying against anti-worker sentiments throughout the U.S., according to the Metro-Washington AFL-CIO.
Rallies continued in Maryland, where the chant, “Maryland to Wisconsin, we are one!” was shouted by the crowd.
“Public and private sector workers know that there has been a real assault on American workers—not just now but for the last two decades,” stated Rep. Donna Edwards at the Maryland rally.
Rep. Edwards continued: “The American worker has had to sacrifice wages and benefits while jobs go off our shores. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 2 percent just keep getting wealthier. This is a real fight for workers in Wisconsin, and it’s a fight and struggle for workers all across this country. We’re standing for all working people who deserve decent wages [and] a decent workplace, and they deserve the ability to bargain collectively for their rights. It is as fundamental a freedom as any freedoms we know.”
Another 1,000 people rallied this weekend in Albany, the capital of New York state. Additionally, 300 people rallied in Buffalo, 250 in Plattsburgh, and 1,000 in New York City.
Wisconsin protests have continued well into their second week; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ordered the state capital cleared Sunday, Feb. 27, by 4 p.m. Many citizens considered this to be a violation of their right to assembly, however, and they have continued to rally despite the possibility of arrest.
This followed Saturday’s rally of 100,000 citizens in Madison, Wis., which called for the governor to kill the pending legislation. Both the Senate and the House have been unable to vote on the bills, because 14 Democrats fled the state.
The weather was cold and wet in Wisconsin on Saturday, with a high of approximately 18 degrees Fahrenheit and flurries, but the day saw the biggest turnout of people in the two weeks of protests.
On Friday, Walker issued a statement on his website to urge the missing Democrats to come home in order to vote on the bills; the voting cannot occur until their return.
“Day after day Assembly Republicans and Assembly Democrats showed up and did the jobs they were elected to do,” said Walker's statement. “After an unprecedented amount of debate, they continued to do their jobs by casting their votes. Republicans should be commended for their willingness to cast a vote that will fix this budget and future budgets. Democrats should also be commended for coming to work every day and giving their constituents a voice at the State Capitol. Now all the attention is on the Senate. The fourteen Senate Democrats need to come home and do their jobs, just like the Assembly Democrats did.”