Michael Moore Joins Wisconsin Pro-Union Protesters

Michael Moore Wisconsin

TODD RICHMOND   03/ 5/11 09:48 PM   AP

MADISON, Wis. — Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that "Madison is only the beginning."

The crowd roared in approval as Moore implored demonstrators to keep up their struggle against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's legislation, saying they've galvanized the nation against the wealthy elite and comparing their fight to Egypt's revolt. He also thanked the 14 state Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to block a vote on the bill, saying they'll go down in history books.

"We're going to do this together. Don't give up. Please don't give up," Moore told the protesters, who have swarmed the Capitol every day for close to three weeks.

Police said there were "tens of thousands" of protesters but didn't give a specific count. The vast majority of the crowd was pro-union, and no one was arrested or cited. Rallies drew huge crowds the previous two Saturdays, too: about 70,000 on Feb. 19, and an even larger one on Feb. 26.

Moore told them that the wealthy have overreached, first taking the working class' money and then taking their souls by shutting them up at the bargaining table. The crowd yelled "thank you" before Moore began to speak, and he responded: "All of America thanks you, Wisconsin."

Walker has said the legislation is needed to help ease a state deficit projected to hit $3.6 billion by mid-2013, though opponents see it as an effort to weaken unions.

Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans broke down Thursday, though communication lines remain open, Sen. Tim Cullen said Saturday. Cullen, one of the Democrats who fled the state, said it's difficult for either side to compromise since Democrats don't want to lose support from their base and Walker doesn't want to appear weak by backing down.

Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, wrote in an e-mail Saturday that Walker wouldn't publicly comment on the negotiations but was focused on balancing the budget and following through on his campaign pledge to create 250,000 new jobs. Walker has said he wouldn't compromise on the collective bargaining issue or anything that saves the state money.

Playing to the hometown crowd, Moore disputed the governor's claims that Wisconsin was broke, saying the idea was as farfetched as the belief that the Green Bay Packers needed former quarterback Brett Favre to win a Super Bowl. The Packers won the title last month with Favre's replacement, Aaron Rodgers.

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Activists began a sit-in at the Wisconsin Capitol on Feb. 15, and although a judge ended protestors' overnight stays late last week, several hundred were back in the rotunda Saturday chanting "Who's house? Our house!" and "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Scott Walker's got to go!"

Renee Peplinski, a fifth-grade teacher in Wisconsin Rapids, said she doesn't mind making financial concessions to help the state even though it would hurt her family. She's more concerned about losing her collective bargaining rights. Without union protections, teachers would be at the mercy of administrators who could decide to fire them for any perceived slight, she said.

"Every teacher I know is depressed," said Peplinski, 42. "Every minute of the day there's this black cloud."

Thousands more marched in the streets. They banged drums, waved flags and carrying signs with messages like "No one has ever died from overexposure to education," "Worst bill ever" and "Tree huggers for unions."

Meanwhile, two other Democratic senators who fled the state joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago to urge Walker to negotiate with workers. Sen. Lena Taylor said Democrats left because they "needed to slow the bill down."

"I ask the governor, 'Do your job. Come to the table and speak to Wisconsin workers,'" Taylor said. "We agree that fiscally we need to do things differently. We even agree that there are some places where we need to talk about how we negotiate. ... However we refuse to accept in America that we don't believe that a voice at the table is an option. It is not an option of a leader and it surely is not the Wisconsin way."

Sen. Chris Larson urged protestors to stay strong.

"We've been here for the last 16 days we'll continue to be here until worker's rights are removed as the target in this budget repair bill by our governor," he said.

Walker has said the bill is needed to ease a deficit that could hit $137 million by July and $3.6 billion by the middle of 2013. His proposal comes up with the money for this year in part by forcing state employees to pay for half the cost of their pensions and twice their current health care premiums – concessions equivalent to an 8 percent pay cut.

With the labor bill stalled, Walker said layoffs may be necessary so the state can start to realize the $30 million savings he had assumed would come from the concessions. All state workers, except those at prisons, state hospitals and other facilities open around the clock, would be potential layoff targets.

Walker informed state employee unions Friday that he intends to issue layoff notices to 1,500 workers that would be effective on April 4.

___

Associated Press writer Caryn Rousseau contributed to this report from Chicago.

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MADISON, Wis. — Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling...
MADISON, Wis. — Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling...
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John Kaler   1 minute ago (1:16 AM)
PLEASE MOORE AND JESSE...ST­AY AWAY OR WE WILL LOSE ANY RESPECT FROM THE PRIVATE SECTORS...­BY THE WAY MICHEAL MOORE...WH­Y DID YOU MOVE YOUR PRODUCTION COMPANY TO CANADA????­?????
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ProgressiveOregonian   1 minute ago (1:16 AM)
RVU   1 minute ago (1:16 AM)
I now live in a right to work state. I will never again seek employment or live in a state that required compulsory union membership and forced union dues that are used without my approval for political purposes of which I do not agree. Many productive people are moving to sunbelt states freed from this incestuous relationsh­ip between the unionists-­dems. It leaves the unproducti­ve more proportion­ate in those states that havent reformed the siphoning of funds to public unions. Compulsory union membership is an infringeme­nt on freedom and is abborant.
ampdem   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
Americans need to start standing together and demand that Corporatio­ns,Wall Street, Insurance, Pharmaceut­ical, Banks, and top 2% earners start paying their fair share and stop expecting everyone else to sacrifice for their endless handouts and unjustifia­ble gain. We need to demand fair wages, benefits, and protection for ALL our jobs in the public and private sector, and end Corporate abuse. People should deliberate­ly limit spending to bare minimum and send a clear message to Corporatio­ns.
over55   3 minutes ago (1:14 AM)
Laying off workers will only provide more protesters and this time Scott Walker will be paying them because if they are laid off they will all collect unemployme­nt, and public employers unlike private employers do not pay into unemployme­nt insurance with every payroll. Public employers must pay into the fund as it is drawn out. The State of Wisconsin will in effect have to pay these people for not doing their regular jobs and the services they provided will be gone.
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therealist2000   4 minutes ago (1:13 AM)
Ghost Dance - Native American - Power Drums - Spirit Pride

http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=2Pen8GoXP­q0&feature­=related
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HUFFPOST COMMUNITY MODERATOR
SageFire   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
Hoka hey!
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
kudzumaster   1 minute ago (1:16 AM)
Good one.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
kudzumaster   7 minutes ago (1:10 AM)
Buffalo Springfiel­d -- For What It's Worth

http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=0g9PiEgYY­UU
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
chrisr266   3 minutes ago (1:14 AM)
In my all time top ten.
Two Fs for that one, K.
Thanks.
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kilchis   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
Except that this time it is "exactly clear".
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therealist2000   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
EXCELLENT! MOST EXCELLENT!
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My five cents   7 minutes ago (1:10 AM)
Wisconsin you are the hope of the rest of the USA. This governor should be recalled or ask him to step down. He needs to spend his time creating jobs. That is the only way America can go forward. Only in America would we cut teacher's salary. The very people our country needs the most. Maybe the banks should bail out Wisconsin and the rest of America. They just keep giving themselves bonuses.
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Brent Willcom   8 minutes ago (1:09 AM)
Hey...reme­mber us? SURE you do republican­s...WE are your worst nightmare.­.we are the STARVING Middle Class, waiting for your trickle down of p-ss stains.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
chrisr266   10 minutes ago (1:07 AM)
I've been here a few years now, and am so amused that those staunch defenders of the right old and new can't bring themselves to post any music of suitable attitude to their cause.
Tone deaf they are on a whole number of counts. ;-)
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HUFFPOST COMMUNITY MODERATOR
chancho24   10 minutes ago (1:07 AM)
Scott Walker is from planet Uranus, namely David Koch's...
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HUFFPOST COMMUNITY MODERATOR
Beachchick   6 minutes ago (1:11 AM)
heh
Karama   12 minutes ago (1:05 AM)
Compromise is good, and a great way to solve this kind of problem. Jmo.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
TheHandyman   5 minutes ago (1:12 AM)
There are some things that can never be compromise­d, honor, integrity, rights,...­any of those sound familiar to you? Some people are always willing to compromise away that which is not theirs even tho eventually if enough compromise is made it finally comes around to them too! An opinion without facts is totally worthless.
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kilchis   1 minute ago (1:16 AM)
Sometimes,­other times it's one step forward,tw­o steps back.
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therealist2000   14 minutes ago (1:03 AM)
Cher - Gypsys Tramps And Thieves =Corporate America

http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=TOSZwEwl_­1Q&feature­=related
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Brent Willcom   12 minutes ago (1:05 AM)
I can dig that.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
chrisr266   7 minutes ago (1:10 AM)
Oh, very good.
Two Fs for that.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
Kmuzu   14 minutes ago (1:03 AM)
Finally - President Obama visits the protesters and ... oh wait .. forget it
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DocStrangelove   11 minutes ago (1:06 AM)
Grow up.
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grasyknol   9 minutes ago (1:08 AM)
It's a legitimate question Kmuzu raises. Wouldn't you agree?
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
TheHandyman   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
Don't suppose you want to remember that when he was campaignin­g for the office he said that if ever the workers rights were at stake he would put on a comfortabl­e pair of shoes and come walk the picket line? So where is he. Just another one of his empty Hope and Change thingys. People who think Obama is doing really well can't seem to remember what he said when he needed our vote!
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
RogerHWerner   0 minute ago (1:17 AM)
I seem to recall that during his campaign Mr. Obama said that he would walk the picket lines with protesters­. Perhaps I'm missing something but has Obama offered one word of encouragem­ent to the protesters in Wisconsin? He hasn't and he won't because he is more concerned with placating Republican­s in the House and a word of encouragem­ent to Wisconsin protesters would be a de facto rebuke of a Republican governor and the GOP Speaker won't accept that and so Obama will remain silent.
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HUFFPOST COMMUNITY MODERATOR
Beachchick   7 minutes ago (1:10 AM)
The right-wing was in histrionic­s last month because President Obama commented on the situation, accusing him of violating the Constituti­on, interferin­g in democracy, etc., etc.
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grasyknol   3 minutes ago (1:14 AM)
Let's not let "them" define us. We can do that.
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G52   4 minutes ago (1:13 AM)
A divider...­..........­..How original.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
kudzumaster   15 minutes ago (1:02 AM)
Emerson Lake And Palmer -- Fanfare for the Common Man

http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=we55QQcsv­Y4
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
chrisr266   15 minutes ago (1:02 AM)
Yes.
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G52   14 minutes ago (1:03 AM)
Perfect!
PacketMan   7 minutes ago (1:10 AM)
It's actually from Aaron Copeland's 3rd symphany, movement 4. Just had to give credit where it's due.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
kudzumaster   2 minutes ago (1:15 AM)
I stand corrected. :)

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