Doors of democracy close Sunday, citizens to remain in Capitol
February 27, 2011
As opposition to the union-busting budget repair bill continues to grow, a decision by the state to close the Capitol today signals that the voices of the people of Wisconsin are once again falling on deaf ears. In response, members of faith communities, private-sector unions and the UW campus community are standing up for democracy and workers’ rights by remaining in the Capitol even while the State is insisting that they leave to cut off debate.
“We’re committed to staying in the Capitol and being here for those who can’t,” said Alex Hanna of the TAA, who plans to remain in the building. “We’ve been waiting for two weeks for our voices to be heard. We don’t understand why the doors of democracy are closing today.”
The Department of Administration has announced it will close the Capitol at 4 p.m. today after two weeks of continuous, respectful citizen-led debate. Around 3:30 PM clergy will provide ecumenical guidance for the occasion. For 13 days, citizens from around the state have waited inside the Capitol for Republican legislators to hear their opposition to the bill. Governor Scott Walker had hoped to rush the bill through in less than a week. Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee left a debate that continued without them for more than 100 hours. Senate Democrats had to leave the state to ensure that citizens would have a chance to participate in this essential conversation about the rights of public-sector workers.
“Tens of thousands of citizens have poured in to the Capitol to be heard. The people of Wisconsin cannot be silenced by an administrative move,” said TAA member Jill Hopke.
Public opposition to the bill is still growing. Saturday’s 70,000-strong protest was the largest yet on this bill, and rivals in size anti-Vietnam protests. At the same time, those staying at the Capitol have been respectful of the space, referring to it as “their house” and organizing clean-up crews and marshals to guide people in the Capitol.
The Teaching Assistants’ Association, which represents nearly 3,000 graduate employees at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is the oldest graduate employee union in the world, does not officially endorse any illegal activity.
February 27, 2011
Jill Hopke (608-225-6567)
Jackson Foote (405-413-4392)