Labor groups rallied throughout New England today in support of Wisconsin workers.
For the second time in five days, protesters forced a Beacon Street shutdown, amassing in front of an empty Massachusetts State House to denounce an attempt by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to nix most collective bargaining power for public sector unions.
About 1,000 pro-union supporters gathered for the largely upbeat rally, which lacked any of the skirmishes with counter-protesters that flared up during a similar protest on Tuesday. In fact, no perceptible anti-union counter-protest developed.
With a nod to Tuesday's tense rally, punctuated by heated screaming matches between union organizers and Tea Party opposition, pro-union organizers urged attendees to remain calm and avoid direct engagement with critics, though none arrived.
Several hundred people also attended a pro-union rally in Portsmouth, N.H. sponsored by Seacoast for Change.
Bill Townsend, a 66-year-old manager from Portsmouth, said the rally shows not everyone agrees with Walker's effort to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers.
"I feel the Wisconsin governor is totally wrong," Townsend said. "If we eliminate collective bargaining, we eliminate the major reason for unions to exist."
Thirty-nine-year-old Hampton firefighter Walt Madore said he came because he fears the attacks on unions will spread.
"If it happens in one place, it won't be long before legislators in other places will get the same idea," he said.
At a rally at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier, organizers had to shovel 7 inches of snow from the steps before the event.
About 200 people turned out dressed as if they were going ice fishing or to a late-season Packers football game.
The crowd, including many Wisconsin transplants, chanted, carried signs, sang Woody Guthrie tunes and heard speeches decrying Walker's attempt to reduce the bargaining powers of his state's public employees' unions.
The gathering, convened by local members of MoveOn.org., had encouraged participants to wear white and cardinal red, the colors of the University of Wisconsin, and many did. Some of the posters included drawings of Bucky Badger.
Labor groups also planned a rally at the Maine Statehouse today. The Bangor Daily News reported that tea party activists also planned to hold an event in support of Walker.
State House News Service contributed to this report.