From the time that Wisconsin union members began protesting until the Republicans outmaneuvered absent Democratic lawmakers by stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights, union supporters went unhinged as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to restore fiscal sanity by reining in lucrative benefits to public employees. Here are the Top 10 Ugly Moments in the Wisconsin Union Battle.
1. Fleeing the state: Fourteen Democratic Wisconsin state senators dealt a blow to democracy by fleeing the state to avoid a vote on the union reform measure. For three weeks, they abdicated their responsibility to do the job they were elected to do. In November, Wisconsin voters elected a GOP governor and large Republican majorities in the statehouse. As President Obama once said: “Elections have consequences.”
2. Nasty signs: The mainstream media was in a tizzy about signs at Tea Party rallies that pictured Obama with a Hitler mustache, but there was no similar outrage about the intemperate signs at the Wisconsin protests. Here is a sampling: “Hitler Outlawed Unions Too,” “Scott Walker = Adolf Hitler,” and “Walker Terrorizes Families.”
3. Damage to capitol: The state capitol in Madison sustained $7.5 million in damage from the tens of thousands of protesters gathered to voice opposition to the union reform vote. Most of the damage came from tape used to attach signs and placards to the marble walls inside the capitol rotunda. When the Republicans finally passed the collective bargaining measure, mobs of protesters broke into the state capitol, climbing through windows and creating further damage.
4. Fake doctor’s notes: It was bad enough when schoolteachers abandoned their students in already underachieving schools in order to protect their pension benefits, but they compounded the sin by excusing their absences with fake doctor’s notes handed out at protests.
5. Town hall shoutdown: Rep. James Sensenbrenner and state Sen. Leah Vukmir had to end a town hall meeting in Wauwatosa after screaming protesters kept interrupting the event. Pro-union hecklers continually shouted during the proceedings and chanted “Shame” as the Republican lawmakers exited the meeting.
6. SEIU scuffle: The owner of the Easy Street Cafe in Madison called 911 when a group of union protesters, led by members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199, stormed his restaurant and verbally accosted seven Republican state senators who were sharing a meal after a vote at the capitol. The group of about 10 people chanted and shouted obscenities at the legislators. When asked to leave by the owner, they refused and got into a scuffle with the restaurant staff.
7. FreedomWorks scuffle: Unions protesters—including members of SEIU, NEA, AFSCME, CWA, and the Teamsters—descended upon the Washington, D.C, offices of FreedomWorks, a pro-Tea Party organization that has been outspoken in favor of Gov. Walker’s union-reform measures. One union member took a video camera from FreedomWorks staffer Tabitha Hale, threw it to the ground and then hit her with his protest sign, which said, “CWA: Taking a Stand for Justice.”
8. “Get bloody”: Apparently Rep. Mike Capuano (D.-Mass.) never got the message after the Tucson shootings that political speech containing violent references was inappropriate. At a Boston rally in solidarity with the Wisconsin union protests, Capuano told the crowd: “I am proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an e-mail to get you going. Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”
9. “You are [expletive] dead”: After a vote on union reform that ended a 60-hour Democratic filibuster in the Wisconsin State Assembly, state Rep. Gordon Hintz turned to Republican state Rep. Michelle Litjens and said, “You are [expletive] dead.” Litjens later told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham that Democrats were “throwing fits on a regular basis, looking like a group of toddlers throwing a temper tantrum.”
10. Michael Moore rants: Director Michael Moore, who has made millions with his left-wing movie screeds, is using the Wisconsin controversy to stoke class warfare. He said that private wealth is a “national resource” that belongs to all the people, called for jailing the rich, and wants a national “student walkout” in response to the Wisconsin union vote.