MADISON, Wis.— A bus tour of Gov. Scott Walker's supporters around the state ended yesterday in Madison with several hundred coming to the Alliant Energy Center holding signs that said "Collective Bargaining is Not a Right" and "Remember November? Wisconsin Majority Stands with Gov. Scott Walker."
Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who was known as Joe the Plumber during the 2008 presidential election, told the group that many workers in the private sector don't have lifetime job guarantees.
"The state of Wisconsin is in dire straits along with a lot of other states," Wurzelbacher said. Union members had "had a guarantee most of their life," he said
Nancy Mistele, a former Madison school board member, said Walker has been "demonized" for trying to balance the state's budget and she criticized the 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote in the Senate.
"They instead attempt to nullify our November election by running away," Mistele said of the Democrats.
The crowd cheered when Americans for Prosperity state director Matt Seaholm said Walker is making good on one of his campaign promises.
"Gov. Walker said, ' I'm going to balance the budget without raising taxes,"' Seaholm said.
As motorists waited in lines to pay $6 to park at the Alliant Energy Center, where a home-builders' show was also being held, anti-Walker protesters stood on either side of the road leading to the center as well as outside the meeting hall holding signs and yelling, "Kill the bill!
At the Capitol, Diane Morris dressed up as cartoon character Marge Simpson on Sunday to protest Walker's budget-repair bill, and the bright blue curly wig came in handy on a chilly, sunny afternoon.
"My ears get cold. Iit helps a little," said Morris, a state Department of Commerce employee for five years.
Morris was among hundreds who turned out again in the ongoing debate over Walker's attempts to balance the budget while also seeking the end of collective bargaining on anything except wages for public employees in Wisconsin.
Sunday looked like many of the previous days at the Capitol with protesters carrying signs, walking dogs, pushing strollers with children and shouting, "This is what democracy looks like."
Inside the Capitol, protesters gathered in the rotunda to sing songs and chant. Outside, before a rally that began around 12:30 p.m., a sound system blasted the Grateful Dead, Beach Boys and Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up."
Michael Roy and Jon-Erik Jepson carried a homemade cardboard figure of a silver fighting machine from "The Empire Strikes Back" with pink letters that said "Stop the Imperial Walker," a play on the movie name for the machine, called an imperial walker.
"It's a pun," said Roy, who works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the IT department. "The bill affects me directly. It's important that we're heard."
Jepson, who was carrying the front of the large cardboard gizmo, said he was at the Capitol to support the rights of union workers. Jepson and Roy, both UW-Madison graduates, have been at the Capitol several times and figure the imperial walker they were carrying had made 50 laps of the statehouse.
"The thing about it is that these are the people who are very noble in what they've chosen for their jobs," Jepson said. "To take away their rights to collective bargain is just wrong."
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